American Ballet Theatre names first black principal dancer

NEW YORK CITY (KUSI) – The American Ballet Theatre (ABT) named Misty Copeland as the black principal dancer in the history of the 75-year-old company.

Copeland began ballet at the age 13, which is a late start for most dancers of her caliber.

At 32 she joined the ABT in April 2001, she was promoted to a soloist in August 2007. She has been vocal about her desire to be the first black 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."

Copeland made the cover of Time magazine in 2015 as she was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people.

    "In that way, she is a model for all young girls," Olympic gold medal gymnast Nadia Comaneci wrote in Time. "It doesn’t matter where you’re from. If you have the passion like Misty, you can be the best at what you do."

    The New York Times said, "her performances became events, drawing large, diverse, enthusiastic crowds to cheer her on."

    Copeland made her debut in the starring role of American Ballet Theatre’s production of "Swan Lake." She was the first black dancer to do so.

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