Misty Copeland’s bestselling memoir inspires and teaches a new generation

A book review of the autobiography “Life in Motion” by Misty Copeland.


Screenshot from PK video project/Layla C.

Misty Copeland faced poverty, racism, criticism, and injury to do what she loves.

The determined prodigy, Misty Copeland, was born with a gift for ballet. At the age of thirteen Misty first placed her hands on a ballet barre at an after school community center, no one would believe this underprivileged, anxious thirteen year old would become one of the most groundbreaking dancers in the world.

She was the first African American principal ballerina at the American ballet Misty tackled her world of ballet and her personal harsh realities in life to embrace her identity and dreams. This New York Times best seller and prize winning, memoir by Misty Copeland, called Life in Motion takes the readers through this journey.

There was a lot hiding behind the elegance and grace of the ballerina. Her life wasn’t always Misty was born on September 10, 1982 in Kansas City, Missouri. She was the fourth of six siblings. Her family life was harsh. Her mother had several marriages and boyfriends and the large family was always packing up and moving during these difficult times.

Eventually, the family settled in San Pedro, California where Misty was raised in a motel room along with her five other Her mother’s fourth husband was abusive to her and the children, including Misty. He would physically and emotionally tear the family apart and referred to them using racial slurs. The family was extremely unstable.


Early life of dancing

Misty says “It was the worst time in my childhood when ballet found me.” She described herself as a anxious child, to cope with her anxiety she would simply move around and Her first real experience with dancing was the drill team at her middle school when the coach noticed her talent and recommended her ballet classes at the local Boys and Girls Club.

Cynthia Bradley, a ballet teacher, quickly noticed her natural ability and dancing started to become more serious for Misty. Copelands first real ballet class was at San Pedro Ballet School. Her training started to become more intensive at the age of thirteen, which is usually a late start for a dance career, but Misty was a natural and earned herself the title of “prodigy” within

Eventually she moved in with Bradley and her family to be closer to the studio, which lead to a court battle for custody between the teacher and the mother. But resulted in Misty living with her mother

Soon enough Misty won her first prize for dancing at the age of 15 in the ballet category of Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight And that summer she was accepted with a full scholarship into the intensive summer program at the San Francisco ballet. From there her ballet career prospered as she began to move onto bigger and better things.

Misty always pushed past her limits and eventually earned her spot as the second African American soloist in the American ballet theatres Several more accomplishments and awards in her career of dancing followed due to her determination and persistence. For instance, dancing for prince in his “Welcome to America” tour.

Misty was a black swan is a sea of white And as she matured her body became more curvy. Which made her stick out from the rest since the art was dominated by skinny, white ballerinas. Through her life she had trouble with producers accepting her for who she was, some would try to hide Misty’s darker complexion with makeup.

Soon Misty got the courage to stand up for herself. Finally she found a dance community that embraced her instead of hiding her differences. She found her spotlight at the Dance Theatre of The impactful words of her artistic director, Arthur Mitchell, influenced Misty. He said “Walk into a room, knowing you are somebody special. Don’t ever let them smash that or pull you down.”

Throughout the memoir Misty repeats the phrase “do it for the little brown ”

By this she means that the “little brown girls” can pursue their dreams. She wants the readers to know that these little girls dreams can come true as well as women. They can carry their “little brown girl dreams with them, some may achieve, others may be in pursuit still. But overall this phrase is powerful throughout the novel and it’s clear Misty brings all our dreams onstage.

Misty being such a role model for young women can add a lot of And she’s rehearsing and practicing ballet all day everyday for strenuous hours. So it’s mandatory for her to create an escape for herself once in a while. Music and journaling was Misty’s way of escaping.

She would walk down the streets of New York City to ballet class blasting Eminem in her earbuds. This would relax her and get her prepared for the day of dancing. Misty would document her accomplishments and setbacks in her journal. She would unplug from reality and just write about her journey coming closer to her goals.

Of course, there was the setbacks in her Misty struggled with eating. You would think she didn’t eat enough since eating disorders are a stereotype for ballerinas due to their thinness. But Misty had binge eating disorder when she would eat too much and it caused her to feel less confident with her dancing and her body.

The artistic staff, who made all the companies big decisions and castings, called Misty to their office and said “Your body has The lines you’re creating don’t look the way they used to. We’d like to see you lengthen.” Which was their polite way of saying she needed to lose weight.

This all began when Misty injured her back right before the pandemic She fractured a bone in her back and the doctor put her on the pill to get her hormones going to strengthen her bones. Almost overnight her body transformed and she gained 10 pounds from it and she was not able to move around for a while. This really affected her mindset and body.

Misty says “It was difficult for me to figure out what worked for my body and how to take care of A dancers whole career relies on their body so finding a healthy lifestyle was the key for Copeland. She found a balance and didn’t restrict herself from foods she loved, instead she enjoyed everything in moderation and finally was satisfied with her new lifestyle.

I chose this autobiography because it speaks to I was once a dancer, specifically ballet so learning about one of the most famous ballerinas journey to success and her life behind the stage was very eye opening to me. Misty has other books targeted specifically to young girls like “bun heads” “Firebird” and “Black Ballerinas.” To continue as a role model and an inspiration.

Misty has faced poverty, racism, criticism, and injury to do what she loves. Her hard work has paid off and she continues to inspire a new generation of children that can pursue big dreams like she