Social media erupted in bravas and emoticons of applause Tuesday after American Ballet Theatre announced that Misty Copeland was elevated to principal dancer — the first African American ballerina to attain the rank in the company’s 75-year history.
“Am crying of joy,” tweeted @blogdiva, adding, “The little ballerina in me is ecstatic.”
“A big day for #ballerinas of color,” observed @UnexpectedSolos, noting that African Americans weren’t the only people made proud yesterday.
Copeland, 32, was promoted from soloist to principal with Stella Abrera, a Filipina American.
Copeland, most familiar to the public for her Under Armour commercial, best-selling memoir, “Life in Motion” and her children’s book, “Firebird,” and Abrera will assume their new posts Aug. 1, joining six other principal ballerinas on ABT’s roster.
An elegantly chiseled and muscular dancer, Copeland inspired countless little girls by candidly noting that she started dancing at a late age by the standards of classical dance (age 13) and was told she had “the wrong body” for ballet, which typically favors wraithlike, almost skeletal frames.
In addition to dancing Swanilda in Coppelia and starring in “Swan Lake,” Copeland was named the National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2013, appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition in 2014 and was named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2015.
Desmond Richardson, became ABT’s first black male principal dancer in 1997.