Misty Copeland
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Black ballerina Misty Copeland takes the lead in Swan Lake

11 April 2015 Last updated at 16:10 BST

When Misty Copeland takes the stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC as the lead in Swan Lake, all eyes will be on her - but that is something she has become used to.

Copeland, currently the only black soloist in the American Ballet Theatre, says she thinks it is important to talk about being a black woman in the very white world of American ballet.

"I do see a change," she tells the BBC. Talking about her experience has "forced people to make changes".

But Swan Lake was "not something I ever saw in my future, in terms of dancing the lead," she says. "It's incredible to be a brown swan."

Filmed by Franz Strasser and Colm O'Molloy. Edited by Bill McKenna.