Michaela DePrince

by Clare from Keller, Texas

One day, a paper blew up against a fence in Sierra Leone, Africa. On it was a picture of a ballerina on pointe. A little girl named Michaela picked it up and began to dream. She was dreaming of being a ballerina just like the one in the photo. Maybe one day she would be a dancer, too.

This little girl, Michaela DePrince, lived in a war-torn country in constant fear of being killed by the "debils" or rebels, who were causing the country's civil war. Her father had been killed by the 'debils" and her mother had died from starvation. Her uncle then took her to an orphanage where everyone hated her. It was still not safe; she saw a teacher tortured and killed by the "debils." One day, a couple came to adopt Michaela's only friend, Mia, who was shunned for being left handed. The couple was told that Michaela would probably never be adopted because she was a "devil child," because of the white marks, or vitiligo, on her neck and chest. The two girls were very close because they were both disliked. The couple, Charles and Elaine DePrince, decided to adopt Michaela as well.

Michaela very badly wanted to be a ballerina. So, she searched in her new mother's purse for some pointe shoes. After not finding anything, she showed her mom the picture and Elaine decided to enroll her in a ballet class. When the family moved from New Jersey to Vermont, Michaela chose to go and board at her previous ballet school when she was 13. Even though she was working toward her dream, she still had hardship. Since Michaela is from Africa, people treated her differently sometimes and she endured a lot of racism. She is shorter than most ballerinas and a teacher once told her that she didn't have the body to be a ballerina. She was also told that black dancers don't have good feet, so she worked really hard to keep her feet in good condition. Every time Michaela buys a new costume, her mom has to hand dye the straps brown because they are all a classic light skin color.

In 2010, Michaela entered the Youth American Grand Prix, a large dance competition. She did well and she received a scholarship to the American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Oasis School in New York. She also was one of the main characters in the new documentary movie, First Position, and was interviewed for an entire year before the competition. She is currently there at her school every day practicing.

Michaela DePrince is my hero because I am a dancer. Seeing her go from a little girl in Africa just hoping for a better life motivates me to keep working hard. I love to dance and I think she can really help me see that you have to work hard to be a dancer. She is brave because of living in a horrible place and still accomplishing what she has today. Having experienced the conditions in Sierra Leone and enduring it is brave. She has courage to keep dancing even after receiving so many rude remarks and also to get on the stage and give it her all. Lastly, perseverance is also one of her many qualities because it takes a lot of strength to keep going and be a wonderful dancer and person like her. These qualities can help me because they are important not only to being a good ballet dancer, but also a better person. "Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts because it is no mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself." -Havelock Ellis "I think dancing is another way to show God just how much you love Him." -Clare Harwood

Page created on 11/26/2013 11:29:59 AM

Last edited 4/21/2019 5:53:23 PM

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Related Links

Michaela DePrince - Her Website

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