On Tuesday, America’s best-known ballerina became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer at the 75-year-old American Ballet Theater.
“I had moments of doubting myself and wanting to quit because I didn’t know that there would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level,” Copeland said at a news conference, openly acknowledging the under-representation of dancers of color in ballet. “At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here — and I’m constantly saying that — it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.”
Once promoted to principals, dancers gain prestige, larger roles, prominence on programs and an upgrade in pay.
Copeland’s popularity has attracted new and diverse crowds to her performances at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Lincoln Center. Just last week, she made history by becoming the first black ballerina to star in “Swan Lake” at Ballet Theater.
Watch Copeland discuss the joy of performance below.[via NY Times]