An iconic photo of ballet pioneer Lauren Anderson embracing fellow African-American dancer Misty Copeland is tugging at heartstrings after it resurfaced on Instagram this weekend.
Copeland, who dances with the American Ballet Theater, first danced the role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake in April 2015. The production, which featured Copeland alongside Brooklyn Mack as Prince Siegfried, made history as the first time African-Americans had danced both starring roles.
During the curtain call, Copeland was joined on stage by Lauren Anderson, who became the first African-American principal dancer for a major company in 1990 with the Houston Ballet. Anderson pulled Copeland into an embrace, lifting her from the stage.
A fan of Copeland, writer Lynn Turner posted the photo, which she says inspired her.
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This photo made me #UglyCry. #LaurenAnderson, the second ever #blackwoman to become principal of a major US #ballet company (#HoustonBallet) hugs #MistyCopeland after her first performance as #Odette / #Odile in #SwanLake for #AmericanBalletTheater. 💜💜💜💜💜💜💜 #blackballerina #brownballerina #browngirlsdoballet #blackgirlsdoballet #BlackGirlMagic #inspiration #womensupportingwomen
Copeland reposted Turner’s Instagram post as a symbolic reminder of how women like Anderson lifted her and other dark-skinned dancers to stand on their shoulders.
Crediting Anderson as an inspiration, Copeland has shared the importance of the strides Anderson made for dancers like herself.
“Once I became an adult and realized there aren’t many people like me, there aren’t many brown faces out there in the classical ballet world and to find out that there are people like Lauren who has created a path for me; that is what inspires me,” Copeland said while visiting Houston in 2015.