Misty Copeland has made her mark on history this week. The 32-year-old ballerina was named the first ever black principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater in New York.
Copeland began ballet at the age of 13 which is considered incredibly late in the game if the goal is to become a professional one day. Her childhood was rough and between not being financially able to take classes and being homeless at one point, it seemed it would never work out for her. However, many people in her youth, such as one of her first dance teachers Cindy Bradley, saw her potential and through her hard work and their perseverance, it all came to fruition. She first joined the American Ballet Theater in 2000, later on being named soloist in 2007 and this honor has not only been the most monumental for her, but a change in history. Staying gracious as always, the dancer tweeted a thank you to all of her supporters on the day she was notified.
Her dancing credits are incredibly impressive and include Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty. Aside from her many accolades, Misty makes sure to promote healthy body images and remain a positive voice for women of the younger generations. In an interview she talked about dancers of color in the ballet world saying, “I think that it’s harder for the ballet world to now exclude dancers of color as openly as they did in the past because of the focus that’s being put on the lack of diversity in classical ballet. At least in my performances, the audience has become so diverse in a way that I don’t think ballet has ever experienced. It’s going to take a while before we see a real shift in the students and the dancers that are going into professional companies because it takes so many years of training, but I do think that there’s a new crop of dancers, of minority dancers that are entering into the ballet world. I probably won’t see them get opportunities in companies for another decade or so because of training, but it’s exciting.”
A massive congratulations to Misty Copeland on a well-deserved honor!