Misty Copeland made history last week when the American Ballet Theatre named her as the first Black principal dancer for the company. The 32-year-old ballerina has been a member of the New York City-based ABT for the past 14 years during which she’s landed much-coveted lead roles in Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet.
Despite Copeland making history as the first Black dancer to hold the position within the company, during a press conference announcing her new title she explained how a fellow dancer didn’t believe race played a factor in her promotion.
“She said to me yesterday, ‘Don’t be offended by what I am about to say, but I just look at you as a talented dancer who has earned really hard-to-get roles. So I didn’t think twice that it’s a big deal for an African-American woman to be performing in Swan Lake. I just thought you deserved it.’”
But a big part of Copeland still wants to inspire other young girls who look like her, who wish they could be like her, and who will now see that it’s entirely possible to fulfill that dream.
“I want to see young girls who look like me be on stage, enrolled in dance schools and in the audience. This has been always one of my goals and I am excited to see some change happen,” said Copeland, who serves as adviser and ambassador for ABT’s Project Plié, an initiative aiming to diversify professional ballet companies.
To learn more about Project Plié, click here.
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