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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Misty Copeland's autobiography


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  • learningdance

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starlightdreamer

Thanks for this!! I love Misty and I had no idea that she was putting a book out!

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  • 4 months later...
gasguzzler

In a book overview on the Barnes and Nobel website it says, "...she was dancing en pointe within three months of taking her first dance class and performing professionally in just over a year." How can that be? From everything I have read on this site I would have to conclude that this is impossible. So what gives? Is it possible to be ready for point after three months of dance?

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dancypants1

Well, she is Misty Copeland, lol.

 

I need to get this for DD, she adores and idolizes her, especially her beautiful muscles! Anyone know if it is appropriate for a 13 year old? I think I heard Misty had a tough start in life, so I am wondering if there are things DD might find uncomfortable.

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learningdance

I have it and read it along with Jennifer Ringer's books Dancing Through It. Misty was discovered by Cynthia Brady (or Bradley), a ballet teacher and brought to her studio and then to her home to live with her. She was clearly flexible and had an aptitude for dance and movement, as she had been doing drill team and cheerleading. She won the LA Spotlight Award for a ballet variation which is evidently a big deal in that area and from that burst onto the scene and performed locally. I don't know that she was "professional" in the true sense of the word. The jacket kind of hints at the book, a story of a gifted kid born into a kind of crazy family and a publicist's dream. Copeland's dance teacher encouraged her to seek emancipation from her mother in a highly publicized legally battle (that never came to fruition) and the whole thing probably left Copeland confused. In fact, the book reflects Copeland treading very carefully around all of these issues trying to show her love for the many people that came in and out of her life. There is nothing that I would not mind my 12 year old reading. It's written for young adults.

 

I really loved Jennifer Ringer's biography.

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Momof3darlings

I think it's fine for a 13 year old. I does discuss the homelessness and whys of that from her personal situation. It discusses what her mom exposed her children to in terms of the road they took that made them homeless for a time. But, I would think a 13 year old could easily understand the way that was written. There's nothing I wouldn't let my 13 year old read but then that's me. When in doubt, read it first. It's a quick read.

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I like Misty Copeland as a person, but I could not connect with the book. Many places throughout there is a repeat of this phrase in different incarnations: no one should be able to do this, but I did it because I'm amazing and the best. I KNOW she's not conceited, but it came across that way to my daughter and I - particularly when she noted that she would get the best parts and special attention at SI's, but no other dancers were jealous because they understood she was special. I highly doubt this. The book would have benefited from a more humble spirit. Again, I don't think Misty is conceited, but if I picked up the book and knew nothing about her, that's how I would feel.

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TexasPointe

Birchbark,

My DD and I both read the book and had the same impression. I think you put it perfectly: it could have used a "more humble spirit." In contrast, I read Jenifer Ringer's book and while she is also obviously a remarkable talent, the spirit of her book was much more humble.

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learningdance

Birchbark. . me too. For me it was the overuse of "prodigy" throughout. I am sure that this was ghost written and so I didn't really think it reflected Misty, per se but I am sure that she read it. Misty IMO is a smart lady with a great publicist and I applaud her ballet talent and her ability to promote herself but the book didn't really work for me as a middle aged woman.

 

Jennifer Ringer has a degree in English and I do believe wrote her biography word for word. I found it to just be more interesting and I found that she seemed to have a certain perspective about herself.

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MamatoMary

birchbark - I read it and had a similar impression. To me, I thought she sounded a bit whiny and seemed to blame a lot of her "struggles" in the ballet world on her ethnicity. My problem with that is here you have a talented young lady who didn't start ballet until she was 13, had her pick of summer intensive scholarships a year or two later at some of the finest ballet schools in the country, gets a professional contract as a teenager with one of the world's leading ballet companies, and is promoted to soloist before she's 30. Other than the fact that SAB didn't accept her one summer, her race has obviously not held her back too much. I never saw any true struggles that she had to overcome. For me, the inspirational part of the story is the fact that she did start so late. That is virtually unheard of, and I wish the book had focused on that a bit more. It could easily have been an inspirational book for teens about how hard work and perseverance can help them overcome true obstacles and reach for their dreams.

 

I haven't read Jennifer Ringer's book. I think I will go find it.

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learningdance

Well, Mama. . I have to disagree. She indeed had a number of struggles. Her mother had at least 3-4 relationships with various men during the time that Misty was at home and these relationships often took Misty to live with varying people, many times on the floor. Some of the men could have been deemed abusive. She was actually crowded into a hotel sleeping on the floor when Cynthia Bradley took her in. The conditions were deplorable enough to cause Bradley to tell her to seek emancipation from her mother.

 

I do believe that the characterizations of her talent in the book with words like "prodigy" and stories of her "specialness" are really tiresome. I do not have the qualifications to judge her talent level. But the book is a publicity tool. I believe that the facts of her upbringing are accurate. Misty is smart. She has promoted herself and I believe that she never would have been promoted to soloist in ABT without doing so. She has become one of the faces of minorities in ballet and a very, influential pop culture figure. And probably has attracted people to ballet, who would not otherwise be interested.

 

ABT is actually extremely slow to promote dancers(if at all). This is a well documented fact. So, I do believe that she has been strung along by ABT, like many, many others.

 

I do believe that her race has impacted her. When you are the only black person in the room, it does. She recounts things in the book that people said or did. But I also believe her upbringing has probably psychologically impacted her as well.

 

By making herself a public figure, through endorsements, public appearances, convention circuit teaching, she is turning things around and using her race to her advantage.

 

I didn't find the book to be whiny at all. I did find the book to be rather aggrandizing. But to say she had no struggles. It seems as if we didn't read the same book.

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TexasPointe

learningdance, I don't believe that mama said she had no struggles. Her post specifically refers to her struggles "in the ballet world," and how she seems to blame a lot of those struggles (such as they were for someone who has enjoyed such spectacular success) on her ethnicity. Clearly, she had many, many struggles in her personal life -- no argument there!

Edited by TexasPointe
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Temps de cuisse

I saw Misty dance (class and performance) when she was a teen with South Bay Ballet at RDA Festivals. She was stunning to watch in class; physically beautifu, unbelievable legs and a an approach to her dancing that could take your breath away.....she was definitely 'special'.

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Momof3darlings

Just to clarify. I think where the misunderstanding came in is in the statement Mama made that says "I don't see any true struggles." What I believe she meant was "I don't see any true struggles because of race." When reading quickly the first can be interpreted in general while the latter is more specific. I read her post twice for clarity on that as well. (Now we'll get off each others posts and onto the discussion of the book.....thanks for the momentary explanation so we can move on and discuss the book itself and our thoughts on it as personal perceptions.)

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