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10 Black Ballerinas Other Than Misty Copeland Who Are Also Changing the Face of Ballet



By now, you know who Misty Copeland is. Last week, the ballerina made headlines when she ascended into the pantheon of  principal dancers at the American Ballet Theater, the first African-American woman ever to do so. But even before her promotion, her fame spread far beyond the gilded walls of the theater. From the raging custody battle that encapsulated her as a teen, to touring with Prince,  Misty didn’t glide onto the scene. She leaped.

As a pioneer, Misty’s star is unparalleled, but she is not the only Black ballerina blazing new trails. In cities across the globe, from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, Black women are quietly shattering stereotypes, and scaling the ranks of predominately white ballet companies. They, too, have inspiring stories that must be shared, because as Misty Copeland proves, there is power in visibility.


Olivia Boisson, New York City Ballet

Olivia Boisson of Queens, New York  is currently the only African-American female dancer with the New York City Ballet. Established by legendary choreography George Balanchine in 1933, and housed in New York City’s Lincoln Center, directly adjacent to the American Ballet Theater, the New York City Ballet is considered by many to be the pinnacle of dance in America. While enrolled at the School of American Ballet, the  official school of NYCB,  Olivia received the coveted Mae L. Wien award, given to advanced students who demonstrate outstanding promise. She is the fifth Black woman to dance with the company, and the first since the departure of Aesha Ash in 2003.

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7 thoughts on “10 Black Ballerinas Other Than Misty Copeland Who Are Also Changing the Face of Ballet

  1. Beauity and elegance.

  2. June Miller says:

    The Australian Ballet has an indigenous dancer, Ella Havelka

  3. One correction on Michaela DePrince: The movie FIRST POSITION showed her preparing for and competing in the Youth America Grand Prix competition, not the Prix de Lausanne. I'm not 100% certain, but am pretty sure she never entered the Prix de Lausanne. Her bio on her website (!bio/c6f8 ) makes no mention of it, and she's been quite busy with other dance matters, as you note, as well as with outreach to children, and writing and getting published her memoirs, TAKING FLIGHT (titled HOPE IN A BALLET SHOE in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and ZE NOEMDEN ME DUIVELSKIND in its Dutch edition). Anyway, THANKS! for this article, and for the focus on these beautiful dancers, and a break from the over-relentless publicity machine surrounding Misty Copeland (lovely as she is, herself).

  4. Two other notes: In Jasmine Perry's write-up, it should be noted that "Discord and War" is a section from George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova's production of COPPELIA, not really a piece unto itself. Re. Dara Holmes, I so wish a better photo could be found, with a costume better suited to being able to see and appreciate this dancer's physique and form. A good excuse to go hunting for more photos of her!

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