Misty Copeland Named First African American Principal Dancer in American Ballet Theater’s History

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You might remember Misty Copeland from her Time Magazine cover. If not, perhaps you’ve seen her inspiring and intense I Will What I Want Under Armour ads and video (watch it above). 

She also has half a million Instagram followers.

And the public is about to see her a lot more: as a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater — the first African-American woman to hold this rank in the theater’s 75-year history.

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(Photo: Instagram/MistyOnPointe)

This isn’t a surprise to Copeland, 32, however. Last year the ballerina published a memoir called Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina which the New York Times called “Wrenching and revelatory.” A surprising moment in the dancing world occurred when Copeland outwardly said in her book that “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 … if I don’t rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them.”

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(Photo: Instagram/MistyOnPointe)

The many things that make Copeland dramatically different from past principal ballerinas range from being featured in athletic wear ads, to being Prince’s muse, but the obvious one is that she is black in a dance world that’s still mainly white. 

The New York Times published an interview with the ballerina last year where she noted her difference. “You have to push yourself and push yourself, and it’s never perfect. And to be different means you may even have to be stronger.”

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