Thursday, March 13, 2014

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina  The first ballet I saw was probably a production of The Nutcracker at the local community center in my hometown.  Since then I have been fascinated, intrigued, and completely mesmerized by dance.  There is something magical about men and woman flying through the air, and dancing on their tiptoes and telling a story without saying a word.  When I lived in New York I tried to see as many ballets as my time and money would afford.  Several years after leaving New York, attending a performance at Lincoln Center is still one of the things I miss most about the city.  So when I heard that Misty Copeland was publishing a memoir/biography I was thrilled.  First, she is a wonderful dancer.  Second, as a soloist at the American Ballet Theatre she is one of the very few African-American women to have ever made it to this level at a major ballet company. 

Copeland has an interesting story to tell.  Her background doesn't quite fit the mold of a typical ballet dancer.  For starters, she began dancing relatively late at the ripe old age of 13 and her first class was at a Boys and Girl Club.  In Life in Motion Copeland tells how she went from dancing at a gym at a Boys and Girls Club to the stage at Lincoln Center's Metropolitan Opera House.  In addition to her personal story, Copeland provides a glimpse of what it takes to be a dancer - the daily regimen of class and rehearsals, the injuries, and even the politics of the ballet world.  Notwithstanding my love of the ballet, I have to admit I don't know much about its history so I was particularly interested in the bits about other dancers of color who preceded Copeland (now I have homework to do) and the inner workings of a ballet company.

I very much enjoyed Life in Motion.  It was a quick and entertaining read.  If you're interested in ballet or dance in general, I would recommend it.  If you're interested in the politics surrounding race and art this might also interest you.

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