Michaela DePrince Bio
Teen ballerina Michaela DePrince has overcome remarkable circumstances and danced around danger to become the toast of the dance world. Orphaned by the war in Sierra Leone, the 17-year-old dancer found her feet after being adopted and brought to America, she even appears in the recent ballet documentary First Position. Find out more in her Kidzworld Bio!
Alone in Sierra Leone
Born Mabiny Bangura in Sierra Leone in West Africa, Michaela was orphaned by the age of three years old, her father killed by revolutionaries and her mother starving to death. She was taken by an uncle to live at an orphanage where she was shunned by the other orphans for having a skin condition. Michaela says that in her war-torn homeland she saw frightening things every day, but when she came across a glossy magazine photo of ballerina effortlessly happy and free, she knew what she wanted to be, and kept the picture close to her at all times. Along with her best friend Mia at the orphanage Michaela was adopted by a couple from New Jersey, who brought them to the States for a new life. Michaela told Teen Vogue.
"I was in such a bad situation, so the fact that this person was so happy and enjoying life—it made me hope that I could be that happy someday. My rebelliousness in Sierra Leone helped me survive there, and it stayed with me until I moved to the States and realized I was in a safe place with caring parents.”
When she reached the U.S. Michaela showed her new parents her long-cherished magazine photo after trying to find toe shoes in her mom’s handbag! They decided to enroll her in The Rock School for Dance and later when the family moved and she couldn’t find a good enough school Michaela went to a full-time dance boarding school to pursue her passion.
"I missed my family desperately, but ballet is what I wanted to do"
Despite excelling as dancer at such a young age Michaela constantly encountered racism in the dance world, with many people feeling that she didn’t have the body type or look required for a professional ballerina – luckily she was undeterred and eventually found a role model when she saw black dancer Heidi Cruz perform. Michaela’s mother went to the trouble of dying her pointe shoes dark brown so that she didnt’ stand out in the classic peach ballet gear.
Michaela has gone on to wow audiences all over the world with her incredible dance talent, and was featured in the documentary First Position, all about teenage ballerinas training and trying to make it in the dance world – and director Bess Kargman knew she had picked a future star with Michaela!
Check out the trailer for First Position below!
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