National

Updated: June 30, 2015

Misty Copeland named ABT's first-ever black principal dancer

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Misty Copeland attends the 2015 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
Dimitrios Kambouris
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Misty Copeland attends the 2015 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

By Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Much beloved dancer and African American Misty Copeland has made history. The petite 32-year-old was named principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre, the first-ever in the company’s 75-year history.

Copeland’s promotion – after 14 years at the company – comes at a time when the woman’s growing celebrity and popularity brought her fame beyond ballet circles, the New York Times reported.

Copeland faced many obstacles in her climb to the top of the artistic world. She suffered through a high-profile custody fight with her mother, where Copeland fought to be emancipated from her, but her mother successfully regained custody.

Copeland grew up poor, one of six children in San Pedro, Calif. And she was late to the ballet world, beginning her formal dance training at age 13, about seven years later than most dancers. She was so gifted, however, that she was taken in by her ballet teacher. Besides being black, Copeland also was thought to be too short and too muscular to dance with an elite ballet company.

Copeland made her debut last week in the lead role of “Swan Lake,” considered one of the premiere roles in the ballet world.

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