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Book Review: Misty Copeland's 'The Ballerina Body'.

Recent professional dance training graduate, Emma Boxall, has reviewed Misty Copeland's first health and fitness book, 'The Ballerina Body' for the NIDMS blog. Find out Emma's opinions on Copeland's book from the perspective of a young professional dancer....

Ballerina Body, written by renowned ballerina Misty Copeland, is an encouraging read, packed with discussion and advice for aspiring dancers and those who wish to achieve Copeland's athletic physique. Copeland reveals how to find the motivation to become healthier and stronger and demystifies the success of cultivating a strong, lean and flexible body. Ballerina Body is very accessible book with step-by-step advice, meal plans, recipes, workout routines and inspiring words from Copeland herself.

In the introduction, Copeland shares her personal story with the audience. As a recent dance graduate, it is very reassuring to hear even the most successful dancers have battled with the demanding life as a dancer. Diet, body image, demanding schedules, fatigue, physical and mental wellbeing are just some of the contributing factors to the life of a dancer and to read about Copeland’s experience and discovery is inspiring.

The visual appearance of the book is striking, Copeland features on the front page, mid-air in an extended grand jeté. Several whole-page images of Copeland appear throughout the book, highlighting her impressively strong and athletic body. Although the images are a visual representation of Copeland’s Ballerina Body, there is potential for some to be perceived as slightly inappropriate with Copeland wearing unnecessarily skimpy clothing. There’s also the risk for dancers to become fixated with Copeland’s body, forgetting how much of an influence individual body type, nutrition and training has on physical appearance. Personally, I was drawn to the images of the food in the recipe section. The vibrant colours and mouth-watering images are inspiring and prove that contrary to popular belief, a dancer’s diet does not have to be bland.

Copeland dedicates a whole chapter to ‘The Magic of Fat’, which is insightful and informative. She shares her discovery of how healthy fats positively contribute to a balanced diet – highlighting several common misconceptions of fat. An incredibly important message for aspiring dancers as they are often misinformed about what is healthy and consequently adopt damaging dietary behaviour. To read how Copeland speaks about food in such an open way is encouraging because it helps dancers to no longer feel alone with regards to their eating habits and to understand the true facts relating to food groups such as fat.

Although the meals section of the book is very informative, the meal plans are quite complicated. Copeland has included some grocery lists within this section, which are very extensive featuring some very unusual, normally quite expensive items. This could be problematic for a dancer who is on a relatively low budget. From my experience of being a student and cooking for myself the majority of the time, I was very conscious of just buying what I needed to ensure I was not wasting food or money.

In all, Ballerina Body is an enjoyable, informative read. Copeland’s story is very relatable, regardless of it being focused on the Ballerina Body, all dancer genres can gain something from reading this book.

If you are a book reviewer and would like to contribute to the NIDMS blog, email to find out more.

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