"As a teen, I had a ballerina's body," says Misty Copeland. So when her middle-school drill-team coach suggested dance classes, she took the tip and eventually studied at San Francisco Ballet School. Today Copeland, 35, is the first African-American female principal dancer with N.Y.C.'s American Ballet Theatre. During the six months a year when the ballet is in season, she can spend seven hours every day training for shows like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker (Copeland has a lead dance role in the upcoming Disney movie version of the latter). But caring for her body takes more than pliés. "You need a balance between eating clean and working out."
VIDEO: Misty Copeland Quotes to Get You Through the Day
Here, a few of the rituals that keep her mind and body ballet-ready.
1. SNACK SMART
"I've been making my own kale chips for years. I pour a little apple cider vinegar over fresh leaves and pop them in the oven. My best friend hates vegetables, but even she loves these!"
2. STAY ON YOUR TOES
"Whenever I travel, I bring pointe shoes and find a dance studio," says Copeland, who isn't above dropping into a local recreational ballet class. "This isn't a long career, so it's really important to stay in tip-top shape and never stop dancing."
3. PILATES, PLEASE
When she isn't in rehearsal, Copeland hits the treadmill at Equinox and takes mat Pilates classes. "It helps my stamina," she says. She strengthens muscles by doing 20 relevés, or rises from the ball of the foot, on each leg every morning. "When I'm in the studio, working hard on my body and performance, that's when I feel the most beautiful."
4. GET INTO CHARACTER
"I always put on fragrance before I step onstage," she says. "It makes me feel beautiful and feminine, like I'm ready to perform."
Estée Lauder Modern Muse eau de parfum, $88/1.7 fl. oz.; esteelauder.com.
5. MAKE A BALLET BUN
"Conditioner keeps my hair in place without making it look hard, like hairspray might," says Copeland, who slicks her strands into a bun using this leave-in.
Vernon François Leave-In Conditioner, $28; sephora.com.
6. WIND DOWN
"Epsom salts really help ease my muscle tension and inflammation after a long day," Copeland says. "And throwing on a sheet mask just feels so good. I use one daily."
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask, $79/4 masks; esteelauder.com.
7. FRAME YOUR FACE
According to Copeland, the lips and eyebrows are the features that are easiest to spot on a stage performer. She likes to fill in both with this pigmented pencil then add a touch of highlighter on the outer corners of her eyes.
MAC Lip Pencil in Spice, $18; nordstrom.com.
For more stories like this, pick up the December issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download now.