Misty Copeland becomes American Ballet Theatre's first black female principal dancer
Misty Copeland made history this week, becoming the first African-American female principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history.
Her promotion was announced Tuesday by the ABT. Copeland, who has spoken publicly about race in ballet and appeared on the cover of TIME earlier this year as one of its “100 Most Influential People,” has been with the company for more than 14 years and was named a soloist there in 2007.
The 32-year-old, who became the first African-American woman to dance as the Swan Queen in the American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake this month, was a presenter at the Tony Awards and has appeared as a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance.
Copeland is also the subject of the documentary A Ballerina’s Tale, which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, and the author of the bestselling memoir Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, in which she stated her hopes for becoming a principal dancer.
“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 2014 book, per The New York Times. “That if I don’t rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them.”
Copeland also appeared in an Under Armour “I Will What I Want” campaign that went viral last summer, which you can watch below.