I just read Misty Copeland’s book, Life in Motion. If you don’t already know, Misty is the first black soloist at the prestigious American Ballet Theater in 20 years. I knew a little about Misty’s background but it was great to read more about her life.
Misty grew up in a lower class family with 5 siblings. Her mother remarried 4 times and moved the kids around a lot. At one point, the family was even living in a motel room with the kids sleeping on the floor. During all this turmoil, at age 13, Misty discovered ballet classes at the local Boys and Girls Club. She found great mentors who helped her with great opportunities. It takes most dancers years and years to starting dancing en pointe (in pointe or toe shoes), but Misty starting pointe just a few months after beginning ballet.
It was so inspiring to read a story of this underprivileged girl who sorta accidentally discovered that she was a ballet prodigy. The story is amazing on all these levels, but the fact that Misty broke all the molds of the typical white-washed ballet world is another feat in itself. Plus, after she was hired by ABT, her body changed from the typical long lean ballerina lines into a curvier, bustier and more muscular type. Despite her not fitting the mold of professional dancers (both with her skin color and her body type), she has been super successful. She’s also taken ballet mainstream by appearing on tour with Prince and in ads for Diet Dr Pepper and Under Armour. Oh and guest judging on my fave show So You Think You Can Dance. I don’t know if that’s “mainstream” but it was awesome.
As you may or may not know, I started dancing ballet when I was 24 years old, which is obviously super late in life. It’s a hobby for me, so that’s ok, but I definitely initially felt intimidated. It was something I always wanted to try so I kept going to class and fell in love with it. Knowing how crazy difficult it is gives me even more love for it and appreciation for dancers like Misty who are amazing at it. If you’re a ballet lover, you’ll love this book. Or if you just like stories of people overcoming their circumstances, I would recommend this book. It’s a fast read and will leave you feeling inspired!
Have you read Misty’s book? Thoughts? Or what have you been reading lately?