For First Time, Blacks Hold Lead Roles in Major U.S. Production of “Swan Lake”

Dancers rehearse for Swan Lake at the Kennedy Center (Photo: WUSA)
Dancers rehearse for Swan Lake at the Kennedy Center
(Photo: WUSA)

When Misty Copeland and Brooklyn Mack step on the stage at the Kennedy Center on Thursday night, they’ll be making history. As far as the ballet world can tell, they’re the first African American dancers to hold both lead roles in a major U.S. production of Swan Lake.

The first production of Swan Lake was well over 100 years ago, but a major production has never featured two African American dancers as the leads characters, Odette and Prince Siegfried.

“It is a huge deal,” Mack told WUSA9, “it means a big step forward towards changing still existing misconceptions, stereotypes and preconceived notions about dancers of color in ballet.”

Mack grew up in Elgin, South Carolina — a town with about 1,300 people — and took his first ballet class at age twelve.

Copeland started in California when she was 13, a late start for most female dancers.

Mack is a company dancer with the Washington Ballet and Copeland is a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre.

Both are accomplished ballerinas with impressive resumes and both will star in Thursday’s premiere of the Washington Ballet’s Swan Lake.

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SOURCE: Ellison L Barber

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