Viking Press; $27.95; 275 pages
Simon and Schuster, $24.99; 278 pages
The memoirs Dancing Through It and Life in Motion are the stories of two
ballerinas, each from a different New York company and each at a different stage in her professional life. Jenifer Ringer, the author of the former, is a recently retired New York City Ballet principal, set to start her second career as the head of the Colburn Dance Academy in Los Angeles. Misty Copeland—nearly a decade younger—is a soloist with American Ballet Theatre. Their memoirs chronicle two very disparate adolescences and career paths, but both are fascinating: Ringer studied at the prestigious Washington School of Ballet before transferring to NYCB’s School of American Ballet; Copeland, meanwhile, grew up in a tenuous financial situation, once living in a hotel with her mother and four siblings. She came to ballet late, as a 13-year-old, via a Boys and Girls Club community class. Each of these extraordinarily talented women talks about her struggles: Ringer with her fluctuating weight, and Copeland as a black dancer in the predominantly white world of classical ballet. Their stories—interspersed with juicy details of company life, from how to apply stage makeup to tense meetings with artistic directors—serve as the perfect inspiration for any teenager struggling to balance life and dance.