Misty Copeland made history this week when she was promoted to principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater, making her the first African American woman to hold the position in the company’s 75-year history.
Copeland has spoken candidly about issues of race in the ballet world before, which earned her a great deal of new fans and introduced more people to ballet, and her performances were some of the most popular at the company in the past few years.
She also appeared in a wildly popular Under Armour commercial that settled the question of whether or not ballet was a sport.
“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,” she wrote in her memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina,” published last year. “That if I don’t rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them.”
Copeland, 32, had fans waiting for her outside the Met when the decision was first announced. She waved to the cheering fans and thanked them for being there.