Misty Copeland joined the elite ballet company 14 years ago. She is the most visible ballerina today.
American Ballet Theatre made a historical move on Tuesday when it promoted soloist Misty Copeland to the company’s top most rank of principal ballerina, making her the first black female principal in prestigious ballet company’s 75-year history.
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Copeland, 32, is involved with American Ballet Theatre since 2001. She became a soloist, the second highest rank of the company, in 2007 and has been considered one of the most elegant and sophisticated ballerinas today.
Misty Copeland also wrote a memoir titled “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina”, published in 2014. She was also featured in a documentary called “A Ballerina’s Tale”, which made a world premiere on Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year.
In her best-selling memoir, Copeland recalled the difficulties of the childhood and her struggle to become a leading ballet dancer in a field which is mostly dominated by white people. She also expressed her desire to become 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 the memoir. “If I don’t rise to principle, people will feel I have failed them.”
Copeland was also the first African-American female to perform classic ballet “Swan Lake”. She also landed lead roles in “Romeo and Juliet” and “Firebird”. Copeland was a standout dancer among her peers and attracted huge crowds during her performances especially at the time when ballet companies across United States were struggling to draw audience.
Misty Copeland was also named one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time magazine and also graced the cover of the issue this year.
“Something that my mother instilled in me, as a biracial woman herself and me being biracial, was the world was going to view me as a black woman, no matter what I decided to do,” Copeland said at Time 100 Gala. “I had no idea that that was going to be my truth at some point in my life when I moved to New York City at 17 years old and joined American Ballet Theatre and realized I was the only African American woman in a company of 80 dancers.”
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Accoridng to Washington Post, Misty Copeland will take up a new role in August 1.