Misty Copeland Becomes First Black Female Principal Dancer At American Ballet Theater

Entertainment | Camille Travis | 06/30/2015 | 12:45 PM EDT

Copeland was promoted Tuesday as the first black female principal dancer in the company's 75-year history

Misty Copeland has once again made history as the first black female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater, the company announced Tuesday.

The historic promotion, 75 years in the making, comes as Copeland's star is rising higher than ever with the release of a memoir and a children's book, a spot on TIME magazine's Most Influential cover and a documentary (A Ballerina's Tale) that screened at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

Earlier this year, the 32-year-old star also became the first black dancer to play the role of Odette in a top company's production of Swan Lake.

Copeland was very vocal about her desire to become a principal dancer, as detailed in her memoir "Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina." Without the title, she believed she would've failed herself and fans.

"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. "That if I don’t rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them."

Copeland's promotion comes after more than 14 years with ABT, where she's spent nearly eight as a soloist. At the time of her signing, she was recognized as the first black female soloist at ABT in twenty years.

She follows behind Desmond Richardson, a black male dancer, who became a principal with the company in 1977.

Three other dancers were promoted to principal along with Copeland on Tuesday-- Stella Abrera, Maria Kochetkova and Alban Lendorf.


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(Photo: Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)

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