Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina

If there are happy stories in the world of ballet, most of them are about white dancers from wealthy backgrounds, and it's in that context especially that the amazing story of Misty Copeland—now a principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre—is an inspiration. In her memoir, Life in Motion, Copeland tells how she didn't discover her knack for classical ballet until the age of 13 (most professional ballerinas begin taking dance classes as toddlers). When she did commit to dancing, she struggled to keep up with the demands of studying ballet amid an unstable home life, and later during a custody battle between her mother and the family that hosted her during her training. In addition to the socioeconomic stresses, Copeland also faced difficulties in overcoming racial preconceptions as a black woman in an art that is still very white. Ultimately though, Life in Motion is the story of Copeland overcoming the boundaries she set for herself, through shyness and self-doubt. Her final victory, then, is not becoming a world-class dancer, but learning to believe in herself. Life in Motion is a stirring reminder of the human spirit and the rewards of not giving up.