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How Michaela DePrince Danced Her Way to Success

Michaela03Remember the eye-catching choreography in  Beyoncé’s Freedom video? well, you’re about to learn more about the amazingly talented young woman behind it.

Michaela DePrince is a ballerina who managed to make something beautiful out of what was a rough start. Born in war-riddled Sierra Leone in 1995, she was orphaned at the tender age of three when both her parents passed away. Forced to live in an orphanage, she faced taunts and abuse because of her vitiligo. 

Things began to look up when DePrince was adopted by a  Jewish couple from Cherry Hill, N.J., and relocated to the United States, where she shortly after took up ballet.

DePrince’s talented feet have seen her visit many places, including New York City, Johannesburg and Amsterdam. Upon graduating from  the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre in 2012, at age 18, she became the youngest principal dancer at the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

in August 2014, she became a part of the Dutch National Ballet’s main company, and later that year, released her memo entitled Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.

Battling Racism

Like many a dancer, actor, recording artist and all-around performer of color, DePrince has faced her share of incidents of racism within her industry of choice. When a young, impressionable DePrince auditioned for a role in  The Nutcracker, she was told she couldn’t perform because “America wasn’t ready for a black ballerina.”

She now hopes that she can do her part in breaking down the barriers for other dancers of color. She stated,

“I not only hope to inspire the next generation of ballerinas; I want to reach out to young people who are facing adversity in their lives. I speak publicly about my own life, dreams and struggles so that children can hear that it is possible to overcome their own difficulties.”

By: Danielle Dixon

Follow her on Twitter: @tooprettydani

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