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Misty Copeland and her co-star Brooklyn Mack have broken another barrier as the first Black dancers ever to lead a production of Swan Lake!

When Misty took the stage this weekend in Washington, DC, it was history in motion because she is the first Black woman to take on the lead role in the iconic ballet.

From what she told BBC, she never thought she could have played the role during her career because of her appearance.

“Swan Lake was not something I ever saw in my future, in terms of dancing the lead. It’s just something so ingrained in the ballet culture and us as dancers that you just envision a certain type of person portraying that role,” Misty stated, explaining as subtly as possible that the role would typically go to a White dancer. “It’s incredible to be able to be brown swan.”

Defying the odds has always been part of Misty’s incredible career, which has paved the way for more Black girls to strap on their slippers and learn a few steps. More than that, Misty has not been quiet about racial bias in ballet. Using her platform and raising awareness about the problem has made it a little easier for the girls coming up behind her.

“I do see a change. And as much criticism as I get for talking about it as much as I do, I think it’s forcing people to make changes,” said Misty. “It’s putting a spotlight in the ballet world in a way that it’s never been done before.”

Meanwhile Misty’s partner, Brooklyn, is taking the long view and looking forward to a time where having a Black ballerina starring in big productions is more regularly seen.

He shared, “I do want it to get to a point where there is not such a disparity so that it’s not out of the ordinary or a big deal to see two African-Americans on stage.”


Misty Copeland Makes History With Swan Lake Performance was originally published on

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