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To all the little brown ballerinas, this one is for YOU!

In 2015, Misty Copeland became the first African American performer to dance with AND be appointed as a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater in its then 75 year history. After studying under Cindy Bradley, a California Ballet instructor, Copeland joined the American Ballet Theater in 2000. During her preparation and public rise to fame, she had to overcome many obstacles in her home life. Her mother left her husband and moved the family into a motel. Eventually, her mother decided to let Copeland live with Bradley, her dance teacher. After attending a Summer Ballet Intensive program on scholarship at San Francisco Ballet, Misty’s mother wanted her to return to live with her. Misty and her mother had a very public falling out, which was covered by the media. She even looked into legal emancipation from her mother. Eventually she returned home to live with her mother. Despite all the challenges and rough family life, Copeland continued to stay focused on her dreams and worked hard to be the best she could. Her hard work paid off! In addition to her accomplishment as a performer with the American Ballet Theater, she received many accolades and endorsement deals. She’s a member of President Barack Obama’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and she’s an author.

Watch part of her performance of “Romeo & Juliet” with fellow American Ballet Theater dancer, Alexandre Hammoudi at the 2015 Vail International Dance Festival.

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