Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Book Review: Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

I have quite a few book reviews to catch up on, this summer I have been reading about two books a week. Its been crazy, but I love that I can get back into the old things I used to love doing. I have always enjoyed getting lost in a book, so happy I can do that again now! Truth be told, it has been driving my hubby and family crazy though. Every chance I get, my nose is in a book lol! It has been a great source of stress relief for me, which is good. But here is my first of many book reviews for this month lol. Enjoy!

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

Life in Motion is a non-fictional autobiography by Misty Copeland, the first African-American female to perform as a American Ballet Company soloist in twenty years. She didn't come from a typical upbringing that a ballet dancer would have either, she and her siblings lived in a poverty stricken area with their mother. They experienced hunger, gang violence, domestic abuse, and homelessness as children. Misty also has anxiety and migraines like I do, not the best combination of things to have when you are living such a rough life. She helped raise her siblings, has protected her mother from her many husbands, went days without eating. She hadn't found her calling until that one fateful day at the Boys and Girls Club: when she found ballet. Ballet came to her naturally, her first teachers almost instantly labeled her as a child prodigy. At a young age, she was admired by Debbie Allen and Alvin Ailey alike. And to watch her dance! Since reading this book, I have watched several YouTube performances of her, she is phenomenal! But she still had a lot of stigma to overcome in the ballet world.

You see, here is something that the ballet world likes to keep quiet from the rest of the world. Ballet itself, was seen as a sport that only white people could flourish in. If you were of a different skin color, not only was it hard for you to get an important role, but you usually had to put on lighter makeup to perform it. This was quite offensive to me when I read this, it is one thing to have someone change their look to fit a character's look but it is a different thing entirely to have to lighten your skin for every. single. part. you. play. Nope, not okay in my book and definitely not okay in Misty's book either. When she started out at the ABC, she also had everyone critiquing her every move, every look, every breath. At one point, she actually had a weight discussion with her ABC director. He told her that she needed to lengthen her body, a specific word they use to avoid legal problems later down the road. How rude! Misty struggled with finding balance and happiness in this tough dance world. She eventually found it in herself and in her African-American counterparts who were also experiencing the stigma of being black in ballet.

I feel like I can definitely relate with Misty at certain points. I have a deep love for dance and am quite the perfectionist as well. After reading this book, I realized that I should have focused more on ballet then modern dance, I am so obsessed with perfectly portraying the correct positions in dance. Looking back too, I was always my ballet teachers' favorite. I feel like I can also relate to all the obstacles she had to overcome to get to this point. I may have not had to flee abusive step-fathers and we have yet to live in a hotel room like they did, but we have been struggling a lot this past year. Living as a divided family for almost a year has been hard on my family. I miss my husband, my kids miss their dad, its hard living like this. I feel like people that don't come from the best places usually have the most to fight for. I have grown up so much in this past year, have developed so much determination to succeed. I can definitely relate to her from that stand point.

I would recommend this book to any girls. This book would be helpful to the girls who dance in the ballet corps in their studio. It would help the girl struggling to succeed. This book would also work for the woman feeling like she doesn't belong anywhere, this is what I struggle with. This book teaches women to overcome the bad things in life and use them as fuel to succeed! It is a great book for anyone to read really.

"I know that I'll never perfect the ballet technique- ever. That's why I love it so much. It never becomes boring, even though I've done all these movements in this very studio a million times over thirteen years. Its my safe place, where I can experiment. I sweat, grunt and make faces that would never pass on the Metropolitan Opera House stage. Its the time to push myself beyond the limits so that my performances feels effortless, fresh." (page 3) 

Instead of picking a song to go with the book, I figured that I would show a performance of Miss Copeland's. Here she is performing her Firebird solo, the one mentioned in the book.

My next book review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

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