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Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  1,464 ratings  ·  271 reviews
"Picture a ballerina in a tutu and toe shoes. What does she look like?"

As the only African American soloist dancing with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has made history. But when she first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, anxious thirteen-year-old to become a ground-breaking balleri
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Touchstone
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AliceinWonderland Yes, I think it is appropriate and written at a very basic reading level that would be suitable for tweens. I think Misty's story is very…moreYes, I think it is appropriate and written at a very basic reading level that would be suitable for tweens. I think Misty's story is very inspirational and would be a wonderful example for your girls. Good luck! Merde!(less)
Bunheads by Sophie FlackDancing on My Grave by Gelsey KirklandThe Cranes Dance by Meg HowreyLife in Motion by Misty CopelandBallet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Best Ballet Books Ever!
4th out of 68 books — 38 voters
Gone Girl by Gillian FlynnLife in Motion by Misty CopelandA Piece of Cake by Cupcake BrownGood Self, Bad Self by Judy  SmithAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Mocha Ladies Book Club
2nd out of 11 books — 5 voters


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Community Reviews

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Michelle
Wow. Could not put this one down! Fantastic and powerful story. I am a white middle aged woman. I've never even had a dance class. Not one. Wasn't black, but I did grow up in a trailer park. No dance lessons for me! LOL Not to mention I haven't a coordinated bone in my entire, totally wrong-shaped body! But I grew up reading and rereading biographies of dancers that I found in my public library. My favorite was Maria Tallchief--what a story! I read books about her over and over. What a story thi ...more
Jennifer D


2.5-stars, really.

i want to be very clear upfront -- i love (LOVE!) misty copeland. i think she is fierce, admirable and inspirational. this review is not about her or her life. this review is about the quality of the book.

and the quality of the book for me was, unfortunately, not great. i didn't find the writing particularly strong, and i found the structure of the telling erratic and repetitive. so this is just such a shame. i have found that when people of note pen their memoirs (and sometime
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C.R.
Like some reviewers I was struck by the tone of Misty's narrative. The way she talks about her skills is not particularly self-effacing. But I felt it was actually a positive aspect that she did not attempt to suggest that she is only one of many talented dancers who happened to luck out. The fact that she told her story unapologetically was a large part of the book's charm because frankly, readers will decide if they are curious about her story or not. And she does address critics a bit in the ...more
Karolina Rzadkowolska
I couldn't be happier to win this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I trained in and performed ballet seriously for ten years myself and now continue to enjoy it for fun.

Misty's memoir traces her unlikely path to becoming a soloist with the American Ballet Theater (some argue the best ballet company in the US) and one of the first African American women to do so. She had unimaginable beginnings learning ballet at a Boys and Girls Club at the late age of thirteen along with an unstable childhood liv
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Donna
Book review Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland, star ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre, wants us to know that when she enters a stage, she thinks, “This is for all the little brown girls.” And rightfully so. She is the first Black ballerina to rise to this level of prominence in twenty years, and the first ever to star in The Firebird.

I read this book free courtesy of Net Galley. I approached it not as a fan of ballet, but as an avid reader of autobiographies and memoirs. Wh
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Tiffani
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 Lincol ...more
pianogal
This book was so uneven. I really wish it would have been more about the ballet instead of her bumpy family life. Also, I REALLY really wish they would have hired a reader for the audio book who knew the difference between aUtistic and aRtistic. The first time she said it, I thought, Oh - that's a real accomplishment for that ballet director to be autisic, but when everyone was autistic, I realized she meant ARTistic. Sigh. Seriously, where was the editor on this? She wasn't even close and she h ...more
Whitney
I'm torn about whether or not I liked this book.

On the one hand: Misty Copeland's story is inspiring. It's amazing what she went through before becoming (currently) the only African American soloist dancing with ABT. Even as a ballet prodigy, her upbringing made it so that the odds were overwhelmingly stacked against her. Not only did Misty overcome them, she never made an excuse to stop trying. Like I said, inspiring.

On the other hand: I understand that she still currently works with ABT, but a
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Crystal
“This is for the little brown girls.”

I really enjoyed this memoir. I first heard of Misty Copeland via an Essence magazine a few years ago, when they did a feature article on her. I thought the pictures they’d taken of her were beautiful; her grace and light shone through. I’m not even sure how I heard of this book, but I’m glad I added it to my “to-read” list.

I find that so often, we look at a person and see them in their present form, without fully considering all the various twists and turns
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Ashlee
Misty Copeland has been a ballerina that I have admired for years for several reasons: for being a great dancer, for breaking barriers and fighting discrimination of many kinds, for being one of the most successful ballerinas to bring ballet to a larger audience (despite being often criticized for that). She really is a unique figure in ballet. Her auto-biography was very interesting, and highlights the struggle that many children must make at a young age between family and their art or sport to ...more
Leigh  Kramer
I didn't know much about Misty Copeland before she was a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance last summer but I was quickly intrigued. She offered fantastic critiques of the dancers, for one. Reading her memoir made me even more of a fan. She's had quite the life but her determination and dedication are what's most notable. I'm glad she chose to address the racism she's encountered in the dance world and even more glad she's broken the barriers she has, hopefully making it easier for other ...more
Veronica
Misty Copeland, an African American soloist at American Ballet Theatre, is truly an inspiration.
She has motivated and gave hope to so many ballerinas in the states. With all her bumps along the road and the fact that she started dancing at a later age, she did not allow any of those things get in the way of her success. She is an inspiration because she's trying to show that no matter who you are, whatever your race is, don't give up. If you work hard enough you can be successful. As a dancer,
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Rachel Swords
I have been a part of the dance world (albeit on a local level) for more than 16 years. When I started writing my thesis for my M.A. in Creative Writing, I wanted to do a story on the black ballerina, even though I am white. I did my best to understand that mindset, where a girl can be talented yet still held back due to the color of her skin. I thought I had a good grasp on that concept, thinking of ballerina Lauren Anderson of the Houston Ballet. Back then, I barely knew who Misty Copeland was ...more
Ari
Oh my goodness. This could've been a good book, if it weren't for the overwhelming lack of humbleness and the annoying need to point out the race/ethnicity of everyone she met. Sure, at times that's important but do I need to know the races of two potential prom dates? And I get that dancers should have a healthy amount of self-esteem but this was overkill and made me really dislike the author. Disappointing. Michaela DePrince did it so much better.
Carly
I thought Life in Motion was a great book. Coming from a dancers perspective, what Misty Copeland did was unheard of. She started ballet at 13 and was dancing professionally 4 years later at age 17. I can relate to this book because her and I have being an Aferican-American ballerina in common. She talks a lot about how it was hard for her to be a minority in ballet, and how it has a big affect on her career, but she wouldn't have it any other way. This book inspires me because she is a huge rol ...more
Martha Groeber
Misty Copeland pulls no punches in her brutally honest autobiography. Misty and her five brothers and sisters had a rocky upbringing, raised by a mother who struggled to create a stable environment for them. At the age of 13, Misty was introduced to ballet through the Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro. She was quickly seen to have a phenomenal ability for dance. Under the tutelage of her first teacher, Misty learned her art rapidly, culminating in winning the Spotlight Award only two years after ...more
Melissa
I would give this book about 3.5 stars, mostly because I am a huge Misty Copeland fan. Her unlikely story, starting to train in Ballet at the advanced age of 13 and quickly reaching the international stage of ABT, is fascinating. She does not shy away from the big elephant in the room - she looks different from the average ballerina. Womanly, muscular, and of course, black. She has a good understanding of the pressure and responsibilities that go along with her position.
Copeland shied away from
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Angelina H
Angelina Haynes
Ms. Hayes
Period 2
10/2/14
Good Reads Review
The book I chose to read was a biography on Misty Copeland, called My Life in Motion. Misty Copeland is a world famous classical ballerina. This book covers the story of Misty’s early beginnings as a ballerina, her struggles with family hardship, and how she overcame many racial and stereotypical barriers as to what a typical classical ballerina should be. I think the major theme of this book is that if you have a dream you should never g
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Leslie Reese
Misty Copeland took her first ballet class at a Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro, California at the age of 13. One of six children, she never knew her biological father before she was 20 years old. Her family lived in a motel for many years. Misty was a young African American girl who had never even seen a ballet performed, but she had incredible talent and strong passion to express herself fully as a ballerina. By age 19 she was living across the country in New York City as a member of the Amer ...more
Amanda
I really enjoyed reading Misty Copeland's inspirational story. The writing was good and I felt that I was able to really learn something about her. There isn't much that's sensational here -- no crazy bouts with drugs or stints in rehab, like in many memoirs -- and the struggles she does mention aren't dwelled on. Copeland admits to having had struggles in getting to where she is today without blaming them for anything. I admire her strength and perseverance, as well as her drive and passion for ...more
Books
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 ma
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Monique
Misty Copeland is amazing. The first time I saw her in a magazine ad, I thought she is beautiful not even thinking about her skin color. The more I saw her on twitter and Facebook, I begin to read about her.

You see my sorority sister was the first African American pointe ballerina I had ever seen. Her name was, Natalie. I loved her dedication for her art and the way she sacrificed for her craft. You see that was over 20 years ago when she danced in New York. Now I know there are others out ther
...more
Denise
I just finished both Misty's book and Jenifer Ringer's book, and while I was fascinated by Misty's upbringing and all she had to endure to succeed, I found Jenifer's book more relatable. Misty does have a lot to say about being African-American in a "white" profession, she's a proud, shining example "for all the little brown girls" for sure. But I feel she's still a bit too young, not advanced enough in age or experience for an auto-biography. Jenifer has more life experience, which shows in the ...more
Melanie
I didn't know much about Misty's background or life outside of being am amazing ballerina. Enjoyed her story. What she accomplished is amazing considering the late start she got dancing and the obstacles she faced in her family life.
Nique
Misty is a total inspiration to me and it was fun getting her insight into the world of ballet. I love her strength and positivity. The book was well written, and I found it hard to put down (although life forced me to more than I wanted ;) )
Julie
You may have guessed that I am a fan of ballet, given that I have a "Dance" shelf on GoodReads. I've seen Misty Copeland as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, and in a commercial that ran way too many times during last year's U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. When I saw that she had written (or had someone ghost write) a book about her life I thought I'd give it a try. I was most interested in her early life and how she came to ballet, and less interested in her life at American Ballet Theater, w ...more
Shomeret
It may be "as told to", but it felt authentic,moving and powerful. After following Misty Copeland on her journey, I couldn't stop crying when she got the role of the Firebird. I wept right through the rest of the book and her acknowledgements.

People like Misty Copeland need to speak out, so that all of us understand the consequences of racism, not just its victims. I will never look at the white swans dancing in Swan Lake the same way again.
Terry
Well...it feels wrong to criticize this book (it feels like I'm criticizing Copeland herself), but it's just not terribly well written...a lot of telling without a whole lot of showing. I would really recommend this to younger readers, or perhaps young adults/emerging adults who are not strong readers. I think the way she coped with adversity is really admirable, and I think young women would really respond to what she went through as well as (hopefully) be inspired to react as Copeland did (and ...more
Alyssa
Misty is an inspiration to everyone. I found her story of triumph fascinating and I cannot wait to see her in stage!
Dana Giep
Her story is inspirational, and if you have an interest in ballet it is worth a read. I like her more as a person after reading this. I thought she played it a little safe in discussing her family life and the turmoil between her ballet teacher and mother.
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