Black Prima Ballerina Dances Her Way to the Top, and Into History

Black Prima Ballerina Dances Her Way to the Top, and Into History

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Like so many little girls, Misty Copeland dreamed of being a ballerina.

But her dream was extra-special: she knew that if it ever came true, it would become a historical milestone. Copeland wanted to be the first African-American woman ever chosen as the principal dancer for the prestigious American Ballet Theater.

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Yesterday, the grown-up Copeland was awarded the position, marking the first time in the ABT’s 75-year history that a black woman has received the accolade.

The announcement from Kevin McKenzie, Theater’s artistic director, was captured on cell phone video as he told her, “Take a bow.”

 

Breaking the news on Instagram was in perfect step with Copeland’s own digital efforts to expand appreciation of ballet to new audiences. She has appeared on the cover of TIME magazine and been highlighted on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” but she is also reaching a new generation of girls through empowering messages on social media and online. Among them, a poignant advertisement made for Under Armour that tells them to never give up.Van Gogh's Starry Night

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The ad, viewed more than eight million times, begins with a child’s voice reading a rejection letter from a dance school:

Thank you for your application to our ballet academy. Unfortunately, you have not been accepted.

You lack the right feet, Achilles tendons, turn-out, torso length and bust. You have the wrong body for ballet and, at 13, you are too old to be considered. 

The rest of the ad shows Copeland, more than 15 years later, demonstrating the skills that made her a soloist at the American Ballet Theater, before catapulting her to her new role as principal ballerina.

(WATCH the Under Armour video and READ more at the New York Times) – Images by Under Armour

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