Hannah Neal was a fearless light who danced into hearts around the world.
“It was something about her presence,” said her younger sister Cooper Copeland. “She was poised, youthful and vibrant.”
Neal was a dancer, artist and world traveler who started at a young age: “She was in gymnastics; that’s where she developed a lot of her poise and strength,” said her father Brad Copeland. She started traveling with her father, going to see four Olympic games.
Neal discovered a love for art while in school at Woodward Academy. “She had a lovely grace that found a way into her artwork,” said her father.
She graduated from Miami University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. While in college, dance became her passion. She joined the Dance Theatre program, which wasn’t a part of her curriculum but something she loved to do. Neal returned to Atlanta and worked for Methane Studios in East Point as a designer and graphic artist. She also enjoyed calligraphy.
Just as she did throughout her life, her work always expressed a “feminine graceful ferociousness,” said Cooper Copeland.
“You could always count on her to be on the dance floor with you,” said her husband Evan Neal. Added friend Erin Krinsky, “We would dance late into the night.”
Neal was diagnosed with melanoma in 2011.
“She didn’t let it hold her back,” said Krinsky. “She refused to let it alter the time she had left.”
“She did things people wouldn’t expect,” said Cooper Copeland.
She traveled alone around the world, to places including Amsterdam, Greece, Italy and Germany. She spontaneously flew to China by herself to visit friends and teach dance.
“She helped them start up a little dance program in Shanghai,” said Evan Neal.
Hanna Copeland Neal died Oct. 28 of melanoma. She was 27. A memorial service will be held at a later date. H.M. Patterson & Son Spring Hill Chapel is in charge of arrangements.
Neal had created a community of friends who inspired and uplifted her, and they came in droves to see her during her final moments.
“It was a crazy turnout of people that came,” said Evan Neal. People from California, New York and places in between “packed into her room.”
The middle sister of three, Neal was “the glue that kept our personalities together,” said Cooper Copeland. She was that same glue for her friends: “She had a positive and contagious energy,” added friend Zach Cohen.
“She took things as they came and lived in the moment,” said Cooper Copeland. “Effortlessly.”
In addition to her husband, father and sister Neal is survived by mother Barbara Copeland and sister Erin Hyatt.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.