Ballerina Misty Copeland
Ballerina Misty Copeland performs at the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan 3rd Annual High Tea at the Century Plaza Hotel and Spa on May 14, 2005 in Century City, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

From Clutch Magazine: Misty Copeland didn’t start taking ballet lessons until she was 13 years old, which is considered unheard of in the world of ballet. Although she had a late start, Copeland has taken the ballet world by storm. Four years after she started training, Copeland was accepted into the prestigious American Ballet Theater (ABT). Although ABT has been around since 1937, Copeland was only the third African-American female soloist to join.

A recent article done by The Guardian brought to light the lack of “color” in ballet. Many of the dancers interviewed for the article cited various instances of discrimination from different ballet companies. Ballerina Aesha Ash blames traditionalism, “I have a strong sense that, behind the scenes, donors are saying that they don’t want to see African-Americans promoted in ballet. They want to see Giselles as pale, they want things to remain how they are – for the ‘pure’ swans to look like the traditional swans they’ve seen their whole lives.”

One dancer noticed the lack of color in ballet, took matters into her own hands. After graduating from the Royal Academy of Dance in 2001, Cassa Pancho founded Ballet Black.

Read the rest of this story on Clutch Magazine.