feature: misty copeland becomes first african-american principal ballerina at american ballet theatre

July 1, 2015

Misty Copeland is now the first African-American woman to be named a principal of American Ballet Theatre. The leading ballet company, established 75 years ago, announced the news yesterday (captured on Instagram). Copeland has conquered adversity to become one of the world’s most famous ballerinas (landing the most coveted roles), as documented in Nelson George’s 2014 film – ‘A Ballerina’s Tale‘. However, the role of principal dancer had always eluded her – till now. Many hope that this pioneering step will lead to more black women and diversity in ballet. The New York Times attributes the “dearth of black women in top ballet companies” to “the legacy of discrimination and lingering stereotypical concepts of what ballerinas should look like to the lack of exposure to ballet and training opportunities in many communities”. In a press conference, following ABT’s announcement, Copeland stated: “I had moments of doubting myself, and wanting to quit, because I didn’t know that there would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level. At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here – and I’m constantly saying that – it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.” Congratulations, Misty!

By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor