Misty Copeland seeks new challenge in Broadway debut

As the curtain falls on the American Ballet Theatre's spring 2015 season, newly named and first African-American female principal dancer Misty Copeland warms up for her Broadway debut in "On the Town."

"We usually get about a two-month break in the summer, so I thought if there's a time to dive into a new challenge, and it's something that I think is going to further me in my ballet career, which comes first and foremost for me, this is definitely that opportunity and now's the time now that ABT's off," Copeland said Monday on "CBS This Morning," her first interview since her promotion.

While Copeland admitted she has never sung in front of a large crowd, she's excited to step into her new role as Ivy Smith, performing from August 25 until September 6.

Copeland was named principal dancer last Tuesday, but she has yet to fully celebrate her historic career milestone.

"I went straight into rehearsals after, so my phone was just exploding. People were like, 'Answer my calls,' and I'm like, 'I'm dancing,'" Copeland said.

It will start to sink in once she goes on vacation, she said.

Even before she was named principal dancer, the 32-year-old was breaking barriers in ballet, overcoming stereotypes of how a ballerina's body should look and attracting mainstream spotlight through Under Armour's "I Will What I Want" ad campaign. Copeland finished her season performing the iconic roles of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, for which she received lavish praise.

"I never saw myself as the swan," Copeland said. "I think that's just something that's kind of ingrained in us as ballet dancers, that you don't typically see a black woman portraying that role. So it's not something that I really dreamed of doing, so when I found out that I would be dancing the role it was like, 'Ok, here we go. How am I going to become this?'"

"It's all so surreal, and I'm living my dream," Copeland added. "And you know, principal or not, I'm getting to dance all the roles that I've dreamed of doing."

Copeland said she hopes to set an example for what the future of dance holds.

"I think American Ballet Theatre is setting that standard now for classical ballet, that you can dream big and it doesn't matter what you look like, where you come from, what your background is," Copeland said.

But, this is only the beginning, Copeland said.

"It doesn't mean that the work's going to end. It doesn't mean that it's going to get easier for the next generation, that it's going to be a walk in the park," Copeland said. "But I think it's going to open up those doors for people."

Copeland also stressed she couldn't have achieved her latest benchmark on her own.

"I say over and over again that I am just standing on the shoulders of so many who have set this path for me and they may not be seen or recognized or have been given an opportunity to have a voice, but I'm here representing all of those dancers. Dance Theatre of Harlem Virginia Johnson, Tai Jimenez, Lauren Anderson," Copeland said.

She also said she spoke to Raven Wilkinson, who was the first black woman to dance full time with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1955.

"[Wilkinson] said, 'I never thought that I would see this in my lifetime,' and it just means so much to me that I'm sharing it with her," Copeland said.