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Black History Tribute II

Misty Copeland: dancer, diversity advocate

By Deja Miller
On February 20, 2020

Misty Copeland made history when she became the first African American female principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater. She came to dancing late, starting at the age of 13.

In reference to Black History Month coming up, it is time to spotlight African Americans who have made a way and created history and some who are still in the making. These significant figures are recognized because of the changes and innovations they have been credited with. They have given so much hope and inspiration to generations following in their footsteps. 

One person definitely worthy of recognition is Misty Copeland. The rising star has made history as the first African American female principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre. 

Copeland began dancing at the age of 13. Although she had a late start for a serious ballet dance career, she was serious and focused on her training. 

Despite her circumstances, as a teen she got accepted with a full scholarship into the intensive summer program at the San Francisco Ballet. As she continued her training in the ballet, she won another full scholarship into American Ballet Theatre for its summer program and once summer ended, she was invited to the studio company. 

She became the only African American in a group of 80 dancers. She was faced with challenges, not only because of her skin color, but also because of her body type. 

Nevertheless, she continued to surpass all other members in the company and became the third African American soloist in their company. She stood as a role model and advocate to diversify the field of ballet. 

Copeland has gone on various of tours and made appearances in music videos. She now offers training and mentorship programs for dance teachers. 

In 2015 Copeland was chosen as American Ballet Theatre’s first African American female principal dancer in the company’s 75-year history. She made her debut on Broadway in the role of Ivy Smith in Leonard Bernstein’s musical On the Town. In 2018 Copeland made her feature film debut in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

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