Another first for Misty Copeland, and many in ballet say it’s about time | The Undefeated

Misty Copelandhas made history. Again.

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.