PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — You may have heard Misty Copeland recently became the first African-American principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, but she’s not the company’s only dancer making history.
Stella Abrera, a Filipino-American woman from South Pasadena, was also awarded the promotion.
CBS2/KCAL9’s Adrianna Weingold spoke with her parents about the achievement, telling her that at 4, Stella had her heart set on ballet.
Her mother, Aurora Abrera, enrolled her in the Pasadena Dance Theatre, just down the hill from their home.
Stella’s four older siblings were grown and out of the house. Her father, Jack, is an engineer and took the family across the globe for work. But despite ever-changing cultures and countries, her passion for ballet remained.
“We are not ballet dancers. She’s the first edition. Nobody in the family dances!” her mother laughed, noting dance was a constant for her daughter, even as the family traveled the world.
“She loved dancing, so she was always at home at any of the studios,” she said.
Stella went on to study at Le Studio in Pasadena and at the West Coast Ballet Theatre in San Diego.
She joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of its corps de ballet in 1996 and was appointed soloist in 2001.
Now, 19 years after joining ABT, even with her grueling schedule of practice and performance, Stella stays close to her roots, giving back whenever she can. The dancer founded a charity, Steps Forward, in the Philippines, helping children gain access to education.
Back in South Pasadena, at the home where she was raised, Stella’s parents say they are elated for their youngest daughter’s success. And even though Stella’s face is on the cover of magazines and newspapers, her family is still taken aback by her incredible achievements.
“She has something that the crowd loves,” her father said.
“We really don’t realize how famous she is; we just think of her as just our daughter.