Over the past century, there have been two requirements needed to be named the lead in Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, Swan Lake — being feather-weight and snow white. However, Misty Copeland, 32, and Brooklyn Mack, 29, have broken this unwritten rule of ballet dancers needing to all look the same. For the first time in history, these two black dancers were featured as leads for the American production of Swan Lake at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. on Thursday, April 9.
According to NPR, the two have started an revolution in the industry and the crowning roles of the pure white swan and matching prince have forever been changed. Copeland, a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre, is playing the roles of both Odette and Odile as Prince Siegfried will be performed by Mack, one of Washington’s Ballet’s own.
Becoming a successful ballet dancer is challenging enough without trying to fit a particular aesthetic, but Copeland and Mack were both trained by teachers who saw their potential early in their careers.
After practicing multiple times every day and moving though different dance companies, Mack has been given the biggest role of professional career as Copeland has a Cinderella-like story of her own.
“I think it’s important as a child to feel like you belong,” said Copeland in an interview with Huffington Post. “But belonging shouldn’t mean you are like everyone else. You want to feel accepted, but you don’t have to look like everyone around you, you don’t have to follow the exact same path as someone before you.”
The duo will preform one last time at the Eisenhower Theater on Sunday, April 12 for the company’s closing show at 6:30 p.m.