Tuesday, April 22, 2014

REVIEW: LIFE IN MOTION: AN UNLIKELY BALLERINA by Misty Copeland




Title: Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina
Author: Misty Copeland
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Genres: Non-fiction, Memoir
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

In this deeply felt and beautifully written memoir, Misty Copeland reveals her inspiring and at times heartbreaking journey to become the third African-American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theatre.

When Misty Copeland first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, anxious thirteen-year-old in baggy gym shorts to become one of America’s greatest classical ballerinas. But she did just that. In Life in Motion, Misty describes how she overcame incredible adversity to make history and achieve her dreams of becoming a leading ballerina in the world-class American Ballet Theatre.

From her childhood spent moving around to escape her mother’s string of boyfriends and husbands to pressures to mold her body to a dancer’s ideal, every challenge Misty faced was met with the same perseverance, passion, and drive that brought her dreams to life. A true prodigy, Misty was dancing en pointe within two months and performing professionally in just over a year: a feat unheard of for any classical dancer. Recognizing her talents, Misty’s white ballet teachers soon took her in so she could continue training at a high level. Caught between the calm, control, and comfort she found in the world of elite ballet and the harsh realities of her own life, Misty became involved in a highly publicized custody battle instigated by her mother to bring her home—a struggle which Misty talks about in detail for the first time. She also reveals how it felt to be the only black woman in the American Ballet Theatre’s corps de ballet as she spanned the globe in world-renowned performances.

As unique as Misty herself, Life in Motion transcends the bounds of the traditional ballet biography to tell a uniquely American story of perseverance and achievement in the face of extreme challenges. This is a beautiful memoir of identity, of passion, and of grace for anyone who has dared to dream of a different life.




REVIEW

Before reading this memoir, I had no idea who Misty Copeland is. Now I do. In fact, not having ever had the desire to take ballet lessons or become a ballerina, I had no idea that the world of ballet favors white ballerinas. Now I do.

Not knowing who Misty Copeland is, I was attracted to this book by its synopsis. It is about an African American ballerina struggling against adversity. That was enough to get me interested in reading it. Moreover, she comes from an impoverished background which made me want to read it so much more, because I’m a sucker for true-life stories where people overcome the odds to make something of themselves. Yes, folks, I love happy endings.



Misty’s story captivated me from the start, and touched me deeply. Growing up in a family where you have to battle to be heard and noticed, especially a family that doesn’t settle down in one place for too long, is no easy feat. But Misty gained a lot of supporters on her way to becoming the American Ballet Theatre’s third black soloist in thirty years. From the start she draws you into her life story and makes you feel part of her journey in making her dream become a reality. Not once does she hold back on the details that paint her mother in a less favorable light, but instead she opens up her heart to the reader and begs you to understand that her struggles, though less, have not yet ended. Endurance and the loving support of her family and friends are what helped her to achieve her goals and realize her dreams, and she makes the reader privy to the innermost details of her life every step of the way.

At the end of Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina I felt I knew and understood Misty Copeland, and I admire her for her perseverance. I now also understand a little bit more of the world of ballet and the unforgiving competitiveness amongst ballerinas. What I take away from this memoir is that being a ballerina takes an enormous amount of hard work and dedication. All in all this was a really great read that kept me up way past my bedtime.  




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