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Misty Copeland rises to principal dancer at American Ballet Theater

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Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland

(CNN) — American dancer Misty Copeland, a cultural phenomenon outside the dance world, has been promoted to the highest rank of the American Ballet Theatre, becoming the first African-American female principal dancer in the company’s 75-year history.

The American Ballet Theatre announced the news Tuesday in a slew of promotions at one of the country’s top ballet companies.

Copeland joined the American Ballet Theatre in April 2001 and was appointed a soloist in August 2007. Since then, she has been outspoken about her desire to become the first black woman to be named a principal dancer at the company, unusual for the rarefied world of ballet.

“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 in her memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina,” published last year. “That if I don’t rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them.”

By Emanuella Grinberg