Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina

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Determination meets dance in this memoir by the history-making ballerina.

In this instant New York Times bestseller, Misty Copeland makes history, telling the story of her journey to become the first African-American principal ballerina at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. But when she first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, underprivileged, and anxious thirteen-year-old to become one of America’s most groundbreaking dancers . A true prodigy, she was attempting in months roles that take most dancers years to master. But when Misty became caught between the control and comfort she found in the world of ballet and the harsh realities of her own life, she had to choose to embrace both her identity and her dreams, and find the courage to be one of a kind.

With an insider’s passion, Misty opens a window into the life of an artist who lives life center stage, from behind the scenes at her first classes to her triumphant roles in some of the world’s most iconic ballets. A sensational memoir as “sensitive” and “clear-eyed” (The Washington Post) as her dancing, Life in Motion is a story of passion, identity and grace for anyone who has dared to dream of a different life.
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About the author

Misty Copeland made history by becoming the third African-American ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre, the first in decades. A recipient of the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts and an inductee into the Boys and Girls Club Alumni Hall of Fame, she currently lives in New York City. Visit her online at MistyCopeland.com.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Mar 4, 2014
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781476738000
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Entertainment & Performing Arts
Biography & Autobiography / General
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Performing Arts / Dance / Classical & Ballet
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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David Hallberg, the first American to join the famed Bolshoi Ballet as a principal dancer and the dazzling artist The New Yorker described as “the most exciting male dancer in the western world,” presents a look at his artistic life—up to the moment he returns to the stage after a devastating injury that almost cost him his career.

Beginning with his real-life Billy Elliot childhood—an all-American story marred by intense bullying—and culminating in his hard-won comeback, Hallberg’s “moving and intelligent” (Daniel Mendelsohn) memoir dives deep into life as an artist as he wrestles with ego, pushes the limits of his body, and searches for ecstatic perfection and fulfillment as one of the world’s most acclaimed ballet dancers.

Rich in detail ballet fans will adore, Hallberg presents an “unsparing…inside look” (The New York Times) and also reflects on universal and relatable themes like inspiration, self-doubt, and perfectionism as he takes you into daily classes, rigorous rehearsals, and triumphant performances, searching for new interpretations of ballet’s greatest roles. He reveals the loneliness he felt as a teenager leaving America to join the Paris Opera Ballet School, the ambition he had to tame as a new member of American Ballet Theatre, and the reasons behind his headline-grabbing decision to be the first American to join the top rank of Bolshoi Ballet, tendered by the Artistic Director who would later be the victim of a vicious acid attack. Then, as Hallberg performed throughout the world at the peak of his abilities, he suffered a crippling ankle injury and botched surgery leading to an agonizing retreat from ballet and an honest reexamination of his entire life.

Combining his powers of observation and memory with emotional honesty and artistic insight, Hallberg has written a great ballet memoir and an intimate portrait of an artist in all his vulnerability, passion, and wisdom. “Candid and engrossing” (The Washington Post), A Body of Work is a memoir “for everyone with a heart” (DC Metro Theater Arts).
“Who am I? I’m a man; an American, a father, a teacher, but most of all, I am a person who knows how the arts can change lives, because they transformed mine. I was a dancer.”

In this rich, expansive, spirited memoir, Jacques d’Amboise, one of America’s most celebrated classical dancers, and former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet for more than three decades, tells the extraordinary story of his life in dance, and of America’s most renowned and admired dance companies. He writes of his classical studies beginning at the age of eight at The School of American Ballet. At twelve he was asked to perform with Ballet Society; three years later he joined the New York City Ballet and made his European debut at London’s Covent Garden.

As George Balanchine’s protégé, d’Amboise had more works choreographed on him by “the supreme Ballet Master” than any other dancer, among them Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux; Episodes; A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream; Jewels; Raymonda Variations.

He writes of his boyhood—born Joseph Ahearn—in Dedham, Massachusetts; his mother (“the Boss”) moving the family to New York City’s Washington Heights; dragging her son and daughter to ballet class (paying the teacher $7.50 from hats she made and sold on street corners, and with chickens she cooked stuffed with chestnuts); his mother changing the family name from Ahearn to her maiden name, d’Amboise (“It’s aristocratic. It has the ‘d’ apostrophe. It sounds better for the ballet, and it’s a better name”).

We see him. a neighborhood tough, in Catholic schools being taught by the nuns; on the streets, fighting with neighborhood gangs, and taking ten classes a week at the School of American Ballet . . . being taught professional class by Balanchine and by other teachers of great legend: Anatole Oboukhoff, premier danseur of the Maryinsky; and Pierre Vladimiroff, Pavlova’s partner.
 
D’Amboise writes about Balanchine’s succession of ballerina muses who inspired him to near-obsessive passion and led him to create extraordinary ballets, dancers with whom d’Amboise partnered—Maria Tallchief; Tanaquil LeClercq, a stick-skinny teenager who blossomed into an exquisite, witty, sophisticated “angel” with her “long limbs and dramatic, mysterious elegance . . .”; the iridescent Allegra Kent; Melissa Hayden; Suzanne Farrell, who Balanchine called his “alabaster princess,” her every fiber, every movement imbued with passion and energy; Kay Mazzo; Kyra Nichols (“She’s perfect,” Balanchine said. “Uncomplicated—like fresh water”); and Karin von Aroldingen, to whom Balanchine left most of his ballets.

D’Amboise writes about dancing with and courting one of the company’s members, who became his wife for fifty-three years, and the four children they had . . . On going to Hollywood to make Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and being offered a long-term contract at MGM (“If you’re not careful,” Balanchine warned, “you will have sold your soul for seven years”) . . . On Jerome Robbins (“Jerry could be charming and complimentary, and then, five minutes later, attack, and crush your spirit—all to see how it would influence the dance movements”).

D’Amboise writes of the moment when he realizes his dancing career is over and he begins a new life and new dream teaching children all over the world about the arts through the magic of dance.

A riveting, magical book, as transformative as dancing itself.
As improbable as it is inspiring, the story of one of the greatest ballerinas of the twentieth century; her fortitude and reinvention; and her journey from the Ballets Russes, Balanchine, and Matisse to international stardom In pre–World War I England, a frail Jewish girl—so shy she barely spoke a word until age six and so sickly she needed to be homeschooled—is diagnosed with flat feet, knock knees, and weak legs. In short order, Lilian Alicia Marks would become a dance prodigy, the cherished baby ballerina of Sergei Diaghilev, and the youngest ever soloist at his famed Ballets Russes. It was there that George Balanchine choreographed his first ballet for her, Henri Matisse designed her costumes, and Igor Stravinsky taught her music—all when the re-christened Alicia Markova was just fourteen. But the timid British dancer would be forced to overcome poverty, jealousy, anti-Semitism, and prejudices against her unconventional looks to become the greatest classical ballerina of her generation—and one of the most celebrated, self reliant, and adventurous. A true ambassador of ballet, Markova co-founded touring companies, traveled to the far corners of the world, and was the first ballerina to appear on television. Given unprecedented access to Dame Markova’s intimate journals and correspondence, Tina Sutton paints a full picture of the dancer’s astonishing life and times in 1920s Paris and Monte Carlo; 1930s London; and wartime in New York and Hollywood. Ballet lovers and readers everywhere will be fascinated by the story of one of the twentieth century’s great artists.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this iconic memoir of his early days, Barack Obama “guides us straight to the intersection of the most serious questions of identity, class, and race” (The Washington Post Book World).
 
“Quite extraordinary.”—Toni Morrison 
 
In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father—a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man—has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey—first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.
 
Praise for Dreams from My Father
 
“Beautifully crafted . . . moving and candid . . . This book belongs on the shelf beside works like James McBride’s The Color of Water and Gregory Howard Williams’s Life on the Color Line as a tale of living astride America’s racial categories.”—Scott Turow
 
“Provocative . . . Persuasively describes the phenomenon of belonging to two different worlds, and thus belonging to neither.”—The New York Times Book Review
  
“Obama’s writing is incisive yet forgiving. This is a book worth savoring.”—Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here
 
“One of the most powerful books of self-discovery I’ve ever read, all the more so for its illuminating insights into the problems not only of race, class, and color, but of culture and ethnicity. It is also beautifully written, skillfully layered, and paced like a good novel.”—Charlayne Hunter-Gault, author of In My Place
 
“Dreams from My Father is an exquisite, sensitive study of this wonderful young author’s journey into adulthood, his search for community and his place in it, his quest for an understanding of his roots, and his discovery of the poetry of human life. Perceptive and wise, this book will tell you something about yourself whether you are black or white.”—Marian Wright Edelman
"Miss Grant has made more information available in one book than we have ever had before. Teacher's organizations would do well to consider the use of Miss Grant's Technical Manual as an official textbook." — Dance Magazine
Teacher recommended, Gail Grant's Technical Manual has long been one of the most popular and effective ballet reference guides. Completely revised and updated, this third edition is virtually a new work and should be owned by every student, dance teacher, choreographer, and ballet enthusiast — even those who purchased the second edition. Extensive revision, expansion, and the inclusion of more than 300 new terms have added immeasurably to the value of this concise, definitive manual.
Moving from "abstract ballet" and "adage, adagio" to "working leg" and "wrapped position," the book fully describes and defines over 1,100 ballet steps (saul de chat, jeté enveloppé, failli, entrechat six, etc.), movements and poses (arabesque, épaulement, attitude, en arrière, retiré, à terre, dégagé, etc.), and other expressions and concepts. For each, first a phonetic transcription is provided, then a literal translation, and finally an explanation of how the step is performed, the pose captured, or the movement executed, of how the concept fits in with actual ballet dancing, or of the purpose or function of the idea. A pronunciation guide, cross-references to alternate names for similar steps and positions that vary from the Russian to the French or Italian schools, and a bibliography are all invaluable aids.
But the most important supplement is the 15-page pictorial section, drawn by the author, who is both a successful ballet teacher and dancer. Keyed to the dictionary (and vice-versa), these diagrams show clearly the exact foot, leg, arm, and body positions for the proper execution of many of the more common ballet steps and movements. This essential and easy reference is a must for every teacher, aspiring dancer, and ballet class.
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