Ballerina Misty Copeland heading to Broadway's 'On the Town'

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Misty Copeland Just Wants You To Focus On Her Dance

NEW YORK (AP) — Ballerina Misty Copeland, who just became the first African-American woman to be a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, has another breakthrough planned — a debut on Broadway.

Producers of the high-energy revival of "On the Town" said Sunday that Copeland will join the show from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6, playing Miss Turnstiles, a love interest for one of three sailors enjoying a few hours of shore leave in 1940s New York.

"I don't know if I know what I'm in for. It's going to be a huge challenge for me. It's quite a departure from what I'm used to. But I love a challenge and I think it's going to help me grow as an artist," Copeland said.

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Ballerina Misty Copeland heading to Broadway's 'On the Town'
In this Sept. 3, 2014 photo released by ABT, Misty Copeland performs in "Swan Lake," at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Queensland, Australia. Copeland danced the lead role of Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake" Wednesday, June 24, 2015, for the first time at American Ballet Theatre's home, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. (Darren Thomas/ABT via AP)
Misty Copeland speaks during a news conference, Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in New York. The Missouri-born dancer who has become a forceful voice for diversity in ballet and a rare celebrity in that field, was named principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre on Tuesday — the first African-American ballerina to achieve that status in the company's 75-year history. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

This photo provided by American Ballet Theater, Misty Copeland and James Whiteside appear in "Swan Lake" at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 24, 2015. It was Copeland's New York debut in the lead role, a key moment for her fans who hope she'll soon be named American Ballet Theater's first black principal dancer. (Gene Schiavone/American Ballet Theater via AP)

This photo provided by American Ballet Theater, Misty Copeland and James Whiteside acknowledge the audience after appearing in "Swan Lake" at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 24, 2015. It was Copeland's New York debut in the lead role, a key moment for her fans who hope she'll soon be named American Ballet Theater's first black principal dancer. (Gene Schiavone/American Ballet Theater via AP)
Misty Copeland speaks to reporters during a news conference, Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in New York. The Missouri-born dancer who has become a forceful voice for diversity in ballet and a rare celebrity in that field, was named principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre on Tuesday — the first African-American ballerina to achieve that status in the company's 75-year history. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Misty Copeland attends the 2015 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
Honoree ballerina Misty Copeland attends the Time 100 Gala celebrating the Time 100 issue of the Most Influential People at The World at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 21, 2015 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 18: Misty Copeland attends the American Ballet Theatre's 75th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Spring Gala at The Metropolitan Opera House on May 18, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Filmmaker Nelson George (L) and ballet dancer Misty Copeland (C) speak onstage during the premiere of 'A Ballerina's Tale' during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 19, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Ballet dancer Misty Copeland attends the premiere of 'A Ballerina's Tale' during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 19, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07: Spike Lee and Misty Copeland joke around as they attend the game between the New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors at Madison Square Garden on February 7, 2015 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 11: Ballet dancer Misty Copeland attends the Misty Copeland In Conversation With Vogue's Chloe Malle at Barnes & Noble, 86th & Lexington on March 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Carter Rinaldi/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 22: Misty Copeland attends American Ballet Theatre 2014 Opening Night Fall Gala at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on October 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Ballerina Misty Copeland attends the American Ballet Theatre opening night Spring Gala at Lincoln Center on May 13, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Misty Copeland dances at BET Networks' Black Girls Rock! on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Misty Copeland accepts the Young, Gifted and Black Award at BET Networks' Black Girls Rock! on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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The role requires both acting and singing, in addition to plenty of dancing, including a 15-minute ballet at the end. The role is currently filled by Megan Fairchild, a principal dancer at the prestigious New York City Ballet.

"I can carry a tune. We'll see what happens," she said. "I'm excited. I'm a Virgo and we're a little bit anal and we're definitely hard workers, so I'm going to put my all into this."

Copeland saw the show a few months ago with her boyfriend, knowing the offer of replacing Fairchild was on the table. "It's probably the best show I've ever seen, I think," she said. "I was just blown away."

The ballerina will play six performances during the eight-show week, including the Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evening shows, as well as the matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Copeland has been named by Time magazine one of the most influential figures of 2015, and written both a children's book, "Firebird," and a best-selling memoir, "Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina." She's also performed in a music video with Prince and was featured in a hugely popular online ad for Under Armour sportswear.

The dancer also has appeared as a guest host on the Fox show "So You Think You Can Dance" and was a presenter at this year's Tony Awards. Copeland, 32, said she relishes bringing dance to an audience in any form she can.

"Whether it's Broadway or ballet, that's always been my goal: to just bring more people into it," she said. "Because I think it's so special and I think the arts can do so much for a person, not just a child. It's completely changed and altered my life in so many amazing ways."

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