Famous People

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland named principal dancer, the first African American ballerina to get that title at American Ballet Theater.

She is an author, entertainer, and American ballet dancer for American Ballet Theatre (ABT), one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the United States (along with New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet). She is the fourth African-American soloist and third African-American female soloist at American Ballet Theatre, preceded by Anne Benna-Sims, Nora Kimball and Keith Lee, and is the first in two decades with ABT, where she has endured the cultural pressure associated with this role.

Born September 10, 1982
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Residence New York City, New York, United States
Ethnicity African-American, German, Italian
Education San Pedro High School
Occupation Ballet dancer
Years active 1995–present
Home town Los Angeles, California, United States
 
Current group American Ballet Theatre
Website www.mistycopeland.com

Copeland was described by many early public accounts as the first African American female soloist for ABT. However, Anne Benna Sims and Nora Kimball, who were with the ABT in the early and mid-1980s respectively, preceded her. As of 2008, Copeland has been the only African-American woman in the dance company for her entire American Ballet Theatre career, nor is there a male African-American since the departure of Danny Tidwell in 2005. In an international ballet community with a lack of diversity, she is a rare African-American ballerina, and although she has been shielded from several issues, she endures the difficulties of cultural isolation as the second African-American ABT soloist ballet dancer. Since she is often credited as the first African-American ABT soloist ballet dancer in the press, some describe her as the Jackie Robinson of classical ballet. Copeland also feels that since the female dancer is the focus of the ballet, her role as a trail-blazing performer and role model has extra significance. She is included in the 2004 picture book by former ABT dancer Rosalie O'Connor that is entitled Getting Closer: A Dancer's Perspective (ISBN 0-8130-2768-3). Copeland's performances with American Ballet Theatre are sponsored by Susan Fales-Hill.

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