In its 75-year history, the prestigious American Ballet Theatre (ABT) has never promoted a Black to the rank of Principal Dancer, its highest rank. The petite, 32-years old Misty Copeland, until recently a soloist ballerina, has reached the rank. She was promoted to the Principal Dancer rank of ABT on June 29, 2015. For most observers, it was overdue, as she has become the ultimate symbol of dance theatre in America and across the World.
Misty Copeland was promoted along other ballerina and dancers. She had sought the title for some time, mostly, according to her,
because she wanted to be a role model for Black girls aspiring to be dancers, but afraid of discrimination and hitting the glass ceiling in the dance theater world.
In her memoir, "Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina," published in 2014 she expressed her fear on not being able to reach the Principal Dancer rank. She wrote:
"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."
She joined ABT in 2001. After 6 years, in 2007, she rised to a soloist. She has now broken the barriers of discrimination and set an example for the Black young girls and boys.
Misty Copeland, a Black from a mixed-race family, was Born in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in San Pedro, California. She started ballet studies at 13. Most other ballerinas start at an earlier age. She credits her success to the opportunity offered by Cindy Bradley of the San Pedro City Ballet who allowed her to take a free class at a Boys & Girls Club.
In 2014, Misty Copeland told NPR that Cindy Bradley, a white woman, "saw talent that she'd never experienced before, as well as just me, coming from the background I did and not having the best family situation and home", adding, "And I think that she saw that ballet was going to create this amazing life for me. So Cynthia brought me into her school on a full scholarship, and she also brought me into her home."
She has became an icon in America, has appeared in TV commercials and TV segments, has been the subject of numerous magazine articles, was featured on cover issues of magazines, and will soon be a subject of documentary. In 2014, President Obama appointed Copeland to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition