Misty Copeland Is American Ballet Theater's First Black Prima Ballerina

Misty Copeland Is American Ballet Theater's First Black Prima Ballerina

The dance icon achieves her dream after 14 years with the company.

Published June 30, 2015

Misty Copeland is going where no Black ballerina has gone before: right to the top of the American Ballet Theater. In a groundbreaking promotion, Copeland was named the company's first African-American female principal dancer in its 75-year history, the ABT announced on Tuesday.

Copeland, who was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People earlier this year, has been with the company for 14 years and was appointed a soloist eight years ago. Already regarded as a cultural phenomenon both inside the dance world and outside of it, she has been up front about her desire to become the first Black woman to be named a principal dancer at the company.

"My fears are that it could be another two decades before another Black woman is in the position that I hold with an elite ballet company," she wrote in her 2014 memoir Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. "That if I don't rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them."

Copeland has already been an agent for diversity within the ABT, becoming the first Black dancer to star in the company's production of Swan Lake. At a time when ballet struggles to find an audience, Copeland's performances drew huge crowds.

In addition to her memoir, she has written a children's book, is one of the most popular spokespersons for Under Armour and has more than 500,000 followers on Instagram.

Huge congratulations are in order for Copeland. Watch our interview with the venerable dancer, below:

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Written by Evelyn Diaz

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