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Misty Copeland

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Bravos, bouquets and most of all a clear sense of history reigned at the Metropolitan Opera House on Wednesday as Misty Copeland made her New York debut in “Swan Lake,” a key moment for the popular ballerina whom many hope will soon become the American Ballet Theater’s first black principal dancer.

Copeland, 32, earned whoops and cheers from the packed crowd after her every solo in the dual role of Odette/Odile, one of the most challenging and formidable roles in ballet and one considered an essential part of a star ballerina’s repertoire.

Copeland, who has become a leading voice for diversity in ballet and amassed a following inside the dance world and out, had performed the role with ABT on tour in Australia and as a guest with the Washington Ballet. But Wednesday’s performance was considered huge because it was at ABT’s home and signaled a clear step on the path to her stated goal: making history as a principal dancer.

The fact that this was no simple “Swan Lake” was clear at Wednesday’s curtain calls, with Copeland greeted onstage by two fellow black dancers who’ve made their own history.

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Misty Copeland Earns Raves, Breaks Barriers In ‘Swan Lake’ Debut  was originally published on

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