Diversity in Ballet – Historical Events

1846 – George Washington Smith, who was multiracial, danced with Mary Ann Lee in the first American production of Giselle, performed in Boston.

1931 – Katherine Dunham formed a group called Ballets Nègres, one of the first black ballet companies in the United States when she was 21 years old.

1937 – American Negro Ballet was Founded

1940 – Negro Unit of Ballet Theater was Founded

1951 – Janet Collins joins the Metropolitan Opera Ballet

1955 – Raven Wilkinson joins the Ballets Russes of Monte Carlo. Arthur Mitchell joins the New York City Ballet

1958 – Alvin Ailey founds the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City

1961 – Sylvester Campbell, Benjamin Feliskdal and Billy Wilson join the Dutch National Ballet

1962 – Arthur Mitchell is promoted to Principal of New York City Ballet

1969 – Dance Theatre of Harlem is founded

1970 – The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) was founded

1974 – Debra Austin joins the New York City Ballet at the age of 16

1975 – Lydia Abarca, Dance Theatre of Harlem’s first Prima Ballerina, is the first African American Female Ballerina on the Cover of Dance Magazine

1978 – Anne Benna Sims was the first African-American female to hold a contract with the American Ballet Theatre

1982 – Debra Austin the first African-American female to be hired as a principal dancer of a major ballet company, Pennsylvania Ballet

2015 – Misty Copeland promoted to Principal at American Ballet Theatre