Michaela DePrince
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Michaela DePrince was born on 6th January 1995 in war-torn Sierra Leone during the civil war.  After rebels killed her father, and her mother died, she lived in an orphanage where she suffered discrimination due to her skin condition. Adopted by an American family and inspired by a picture of a ballerina she saw on the cover of a magazine which had amazingly made it’s way to the orphanage, Michaela trained as a ballet dancer in the U.S, attending the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre.  Michaela worked hard to develop her skills so that she could overcome stereotypes of conventional beauty and racial barriers in the world of ballet. Following her dream hasn’t been easy, but she says. “I want to inspire other girls who wish to pursue ballet.”  After she was featured in the ballet documentary, First Position, Michaela debuted professionally as a guest principal at the Joburg Ballet in South Africa.  Afterwards she danced with the Dance Theatre of Harlem professional company for one year before joining the Dutch National Junior Company as a second-year member and apprentice to the main company. Despite missing her family in the United States, Michaela joined the Dutch National Ballet’s main company for the 2014-2015 ballet season. Learn more about Micheala’s inspirational  story  in her beautiful books ‘Hope in a ballet shoe’ and ‘Taking flight’.

Michaela taught a Master class at Danceworks on 7th July 2015. This review was written by one of the participants:
“To say I wasn’t the best dancer in Michaela’s Masterclass today is not an exaggeration.  I’m 15 years old, not a ‘ballet build’, and, although have been taking ballet and various other dance classes since the age of 2, I found a lot of the exercises quite difficult.  However, Michaela couldn’t have been more helpful and was totally inspiring.  She obviously spotted I wasn’t technically as good as everyone else and helped me with my body positioning without making me feel awkward.  In fact, Michaela helped everyone.  Sometimes she just was like a little girl, flapping about when she didn’t do something herself quite the way she wanted it to be – just like most of us girls do!
Michaela taught us both technique and how to make more of our presentation.  She told us to keep our heads up, open up our chests and, because you don’t speak in a ballet performance, to tell the story through our hearts.  This really struck a chord with me and I will always remember this when I perform in the future.
Knowing the story of Michaela’s early difficult and dangerous childhood, and how successful she has become, I find it amazing that she is so approachable, humble and funny.  I may not be a ballet dancer but I really enjoyed the class today, and learnt a lot in a short space of time, with this fantastic and beautiful role model.”  – Ciara Sturrock