Today marks the fourth day of Black History Month. Throughout the entire month, we will be celebrating African American women who are responsible for change in America. The world is acknowledging African American women more than ever for past, present and future endeavors. When we mention Black History Month, we often think of foremothers like Rosa Parks and Fannie Lou Hamer. However, let’s not forget the game changers of today. Misty Copeland, for example. She is the first African American woman to be a principal ballerina in the American Ballet Theatre. The American Ballet Theatre is one of the top three leading ballet companies in The United States.
Black History of Ballet
If you are Black or know anyone who is Black, you know that Black people love to dance. Dance is a vital component of African American culture. Unfortunately, classical dance, or ballet isn’t a sport that is well represented by black dancers.
According to Boston Ballet, In 1931, Katherine Dunham and Mark Turbyfill would form America’s first Black ballet company, Ballet Nègre.
In 1955, Raven Wilkinson would be the first African American woman to receive a contract to dance full-time at Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo of New York City.
In 2015, American Ballet Theatre would promote Misty Copeland to principal ballerina. She was the first African American woman to achieve this milestone in the company’s 75 year holding.
Who is Misty?
Indeed, Misty is a force to reckon, a true underdog. The barre-lethe was born in Kansas City, Missouri on September 10, 1982. According to Misty Copeland, she grew up with her family in San Pedro, California. Misty would start her ballet schooling at the late age of 13, winning first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards just two years later.
Copeland is one of six children who were raised in a hotel room by a struggling single mother. Despite the odds, she turned tragedy to triumph by changing the face of ballet in America forever.