Ballet star Misty Copeland was announced today as the new principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater. After dancing with the 75-year-old company for 14 years (over half of which she spent as a soloist), Copeland became the first African-American woman to be promoted to the position.
The 32-year-old dancer’s promotion was announced at a peak for her fame and public visibility outside of the ballet world, including a “60 Minutes” profile, a TIME cover and nearly a half-million Instagram followers.
Copeland has been open about her position as a prominent African American in a predominantly-white profession, discussing her ambitions in her recent memoir “Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina,”:
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…That if I don’t rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them.
Copeland’s success has opened up conversations about the presence of black dancers in ballet and other mediums, and—as evidenced by large crowds at her recent performances in “Black Swan” (again, as the first black woman in the role with the ABT at the Met)—has provided the medium with more public visibility than it has seen in a long time.
(H/t The New York Times)