The American Ballet Theatre in New York made history this past Monday by naming Misty Copeland the first African-American principal dancer in the theatre’s 75-year history. Copeland was previously featured as the first dancer on the cover of Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, profiled on 60 Minutes and she’s played in some of ballet’s biggest productions including Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.
Copeland started dancing ballet at the age of 13. Her career with the American Ballet Theatre began over 15 years ago when she enrolled in the 1999 summer program. She joined the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company in 2000 and was promoted to soloist in 2007. She’s only the third African-American soloist ever in the company’s history.
Through many ventures outside of ABT, Copeland has become one of the most recognizable dancers in ballet. She was featured in Prince’s 2009 ‘Crimson and Clover’ music video, designed the ‘Power is Beauty’ dancewear line, won the 1997 Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award and published an 2014 autobiography entitled Life in Motion.
The American Ballet Theatre has only featured a handful of African-Americans (male and female) in their 75-year history — a common reality amongst national ballet theatre companies. Copeland has been the only African-American in the company since 2008. In an interview with NPR on Wednesday, Copeland responded to those who believe the musculature of African-Americans keeps them out of the ballet by saying they are “close-minded” because not every African-American has the same body type.
— Renee Montagne (@nprmontagne) July 1, 2015
Copeland is opening doors for an entire race with little footing in a whole art form. Her accolades got her onstage and her talent will surely keep her there.
(featured image via Gala Health Blog)