Ballet Star Misty Copeland to Make 3 Guest Judge Appearances on FOX's SYTYCD

Ballet Star Misty Copeland to Make 3 Guest Judge Appearances on FOX's SYTYCD

Misty Copeland overcame obstacles to rise to the top echelons of classical ballet and break barriers by becoming the first African-American soloist at the acclaimed American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in over 20 years. Today an inspiration to millions, Copeland will bring her 18 years of dance experience and her hard-won life lessons to the EMMY winning FOX show So You Think You Can Dance as a Guest Judge on multiple episodes. So You Think You Can Dance airs Wednesdays (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Copeland will join co-creator, executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe and Judge Mary Murphy to offer her personal guidance and feedback to the contestants as they compete for the biggest break of their lives. Copeland will join an array of celebrities with a diversified dance experience who will be featured as Guest Judges this season in various audition cities, including Christina Applegate, Billy Porter, Lil Buck, Adam Shankman, Stephen "tWitch" Boss, Tara Lipinski, Jenna Elfman, Fabrice Calmels, Wayne Brady, Jenna Dewan Tatum and Irina Dvorovenko.

Misty Copeland made history in 2007 when she attained the coveted distinction of soloist with ABT. Since then she has utilized her position to step forward as a powerful and inspiring voice for change, becoming a champion for dancers of color to give them more access to the traditional world of classical ballet. The numbers prove just how serious of a challenge Copeland is taking on: Of the 370 female ballet dancers in the most prestigious dance companies, there are just 25 women of color.

To open the doors for young people of color to ballet, Copeland recently launch Project Plié with ABT and the Boys & Girls Club to award $250,000 in scholarships. It was at the Boys & Girls Club in San Pedro, CA on the outskirts of Los Angeles, that Copeland first discovered ballet at age 13. Considered late to begin learning this rigorous art form, Copeland proved that she had extraordinary aptitude. Just four years after her first class, she was selected as one of only six girls out of 150 to join ABT's Studio Company, after winning a full scholarship to participate in the organization's Summer Intensive Program. Since then, she has graced the stage in productions of The Firebird (in the role of The Firebird), Romeo & Juliet, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and many more.

Copeland's against-all-odds success story and her message of inclusion have received widespread acclaim. She recently published her memoir at just 31 years old detailing her dramatic life story and sparking dialogue about the future of ballet. Copeland was hand selected by Prince to star in his "Crimson & Clover" video. She introduced mainstream audiences to the world of classical ballet by performing on-stage with Prince at his concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York, the Forum in Los Angeles and in France.

"I'm honored to join Nigel and Mary as a guest judge this season," said Copeland. "I've been a fan of the show and am excited to be a part of something that inspires and encourages dancers to go after their dreams. For me to be a part of this show is a major breakthrough for classical ballet, and I'm grateful to Nigel, Mary, and the entire team for giving me the opportunity to represent the art form in this way."

"Misty embodies everything So You Think You Can Dance stands for: breaking barriers, pursuit of dreams, and becoming an inspiration for an entire nation. We are proud to welcome her to the show as a guest judge this season," said co-Creator, executive producer and judge, Nigel Lythgoe.

In the new season of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, which premiered May 28, the show travels across the country in search of dancers who represent the best America has to offer. Callbacks are held in Los Angeles, where the dancers work with top choreographers to learn routines that they will perform for the judges. Once the judges pick the Top 20 dancers, they turn it over to America. Each week, the dancers will be paired up to perform inspired pieces choreographed by some of the biggest names in the business. The following week, one male and one female dancer will be eliminated from the competition until the reveal of America's Favorite Dancer as determined by the nation's votes.

So You Think You Can Dance was created by Simon Fuller and Nigel Lythgoe and is from 19 Entertainment, a division of CORE Media Group, and dick clark productions. The series is executive-produced by Fuller, Lythgoe; Allen Shapiro, CEO of dick clark productions; Barry Adelman, Executive Vice President of dick clark productions; James Breen and Jeff Thacker. Visit the official So You Think You Can Dance site at to view exclusive videos, photos and contestant profiles. "Like" So You Think You Can Dance on Facebook at Follow the series on Twitter @DANCEonFOX and join the discussion using #sytycd. Follow host Cat Deeley at @catdeeley, and follow the judges Nigel Lythgoe @dizzyfeet and Mary Murphy @hottamaletrain.