Misty Copeland and Calvin Royal III in an image from the shoot for Pirelli’s 2019 calendar. (Albert Watson / Pirelli Press Office / EPA), Featured Image
She and fellow dancer Calvin Royal III took the stage on Jan. 18 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, to become the first black couple to perform lead roles for American Ballet Theatre (ABT).
Dancers of color are not new to ABT. There are several in the company right now. But lead dancers of color, especially black lead dancers, are a rarity for most major classical ballet companies.
The two are performing in ABT’s production of Harlequinade, a 19th-century ballet about a clown who seeks to marry a woman against her father’s wishes. Copeland and Royal play commedia dell’arte stock characters, Pierrette and Pierrot, secondary lead roles to Harlequin and his love interest, Columbine.