Shine Bright Like A Diamond: Misty Copeland Becomes The First Black Principal Dancer At The American Ballet Theater

June 30, 2015 0

CIxbV9cWUAA_Cui Shine Bright Like A Diamond: Misty Copeland Becomes The First Black Principal Dancer At The American Ballet Theater

History has been made today at one of our nation’s top ballet companies. After joining the American Ballet Theatre in April 2001, ballet dancer Misty Copeland today was named the first black principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre.

According to, 

Copeland joined the American Ballet Theatre in April 2001 and was appointed a soloist in August 2007. Since then, she has been outspoken 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 memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina,” published in 2014. “That if I don’t rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them.”

Her career has been a series of landmarks that have drawn attention outside the rarefied world of ballet. As the New York Times noted Tuesday, whenever Copeland danced leading roles with the company, “her performances became events, drawing large, diverse, enthusiastic crowds to cheer her on.” 

After she became the first African-American dancer to star in American Ballet Theatre’s production of the classic “Swan Lake,” crowds of young autograph-seekers swarmed the stage door in a time when ballet companies across the country are struggling to draw audiences.

Copeland was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2015 and was featured on one of five covers for the issue. Olympic gold medal gymnast Nadia Comaneci wrote in Time that Copeland’s story was one “of someone who followed her dreams and refused to give up.”

“In that way, she is a model for all young girls,” Comaneci wrote. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from. If you have the passion like Misty, you can be the best at what you do.”

Copeland has been the subject of numerous magazine profiles, the forthcoming documentary “A Ballerina’s Tale” and a “60 Minutes” episode. 

In addition to her memoir, she has written a children’s book and has more than 500,000 followers on Instagram. She made a splash outside the ballet world with an Under Armour ad that has been viewed more than 8 million times.

As the father of a young African-American father who has a daughter actively involved in Ballet, this is one of the greatest stories I’ve witnessed in my time. Misty’s poise and pride has opened the door for many like her who have the same dreams and vision. Congrats to Misty Copeland on becoming the American Ballet Theatre’s first black principal dancer!

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