Reading will never go out of style. Sometimes there is nothing better than curling up with a really good book (and a fuzzy blanket). We’ve rounded up some of the best dance memoirs out there that every aspiring dancer, or dance lover, should read at least once in their life. Happy reading and stay tuned for Part II. 

Life In Motion by Misty Copeland

Does Misty Copeland really need a formal introduction at this point? She is the first black, female prima ballerina for the American Ballet Theater and the subject of the documentary A Ballerina’s Tale (which, if you haven’t seen it, go watch it. NOW. We’ll wait). This memoir details her struggles growing up in Kansas City and eventual rise to fame. Misty writes about using her fame to give back to her, and other, communities. All hail Misty Copeland! 

Dancing On My Grave by Gelsey Kirkland

In this often heartbreaking memoir, Kirkland chronicles her early career, legendary partnership with Mikhail Baryshnikov, and her personal struggles with drugs. Beautifully written, it is an inside look at the price of fame and how difficult it can be to overcome ones demons.

Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

This is the ultimate rags to riches story. Li Cunxin grew up in an incredibly poor village in China before being chosen by Madame Mao to go to Beijing and study ballet. His journey eventually leads to Texas where he falls in love with an American woman and eventually defects to the U.S. Cunxin became one of the most recognized and respected dancers in the world and this intimate and touching memoir is as exciting as any novel. 

Winter Season by Toni Bentley 

Toni Bentley kept a journal during her time dancing with the New York City Ballet. This emotional diary is the ultimate look at the day to day struggles of trying to achieve perfection as a dancer. Often heartbreaking, full of gossip about some of the notable members of the company, and endlessly readable, Winter Season is a must-read for any aspiring dancer. 

Dancing Through It by Jenifer Ringer

Jenifer Ringer made waves when she spoke out against a critic who commented on her weight gain in a review of her performance in The Nutcracker. Her response generated a much needed public dialogue about weight and the expectations of the dance world. This powerful memoir details her struggles with an eating disorder and her attempts to regain control of her mind and body. 

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