DETROIT (WWJ) — A packed house is expected at the Detroit Opera House Sunday as Misty Copeland wraps-up her two performances in the American Ballet Theatre’s brand new production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty.

Copeland is the first African-American female principal dancer to a prestigious dance company. But, the non-profit Ballet Detroit Foundation has been training young girls in Detroit to follow in Copeland’s dancing footsteps.

Students gather at the second-floor dance studios of the Detroit Opera House to rehearse for four hours per day, five days a week with artistic director and ballet master Sergey Rayevskiy, who started the group.

“The most important thing is not the body type, it’s not the turnout, it’s not the flexibility — the most important thing is a child’s drive and hard work,” Rayevskiy said.

Many of his students — ages six to 18 — from the Foundation are performing in Sunday’s Sleeping Beauty.

“They will be performing in two different pieces,” Rayevskiy said. “There is a garland dance that they will be dancing and then there is also pages.”

The American Ballet Theatre and Boys and Girls Clubs of America also started a partnership last summer to introduce children to classical ballet through a master class series at BGCA locations across the country.

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