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As a dancer for one of the world’s top ballet companies, Misty Copeland is familiar with the high pressure and expectations that comes with her position. After starring in the critically-acclaimed debut of Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House last week, Copeland inches one step closer to making history as the American Ballet Theatre’s first Black principal dancer.

The 32-year-old Copeland has been a vocal champion for diversity within ballet, and has been shattering barriers since taking up the art form at 13. Copeland, who took on the role of Odette/Odile at the Met, is just one of a handful of Black soloists in the long history of the classic ballet.

Most expect Copeland, after paying her dues in the company to become the ABT’s first Black principal dancer and , which would put her front in center of leading the best of what is considered the top three ballet companies in the world.

Copeland was was honored with bouquets and other gifts after her performance as well as some special visitors who came out to acknowledge her achievement. Raven Wilkinson, 80, the first Black woman to be signed by a major ballet company joined Copeland during a curtain call, as did Lauren Anderson, 50 the first principal dancer with the Houston Ballet.

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