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Michaela DePrince: Ballet Dancer

Turning tragedy into triumph, ballet dancer Michaela DePrince embodies using passion as a route to joy.

From Giselle to Swan Lake, the tragedy of death is often reborn into the beatific within ballet. The life of young dancer Michaela DePrince embodies both. Born in Sierra Leone during that country’s brutal civil war from 1991 to 2002, both of her parents were dead by the time she was three. She was then bullied in her orphanage because of a skin condition called vitiligo, caused by the depigmentation of parts of the skin. In DePrince’s case, it produces white splotches on her neck and chest. She found solace by dreaming of becoming a dancer – a dream she nurtured ever since catching a glimpse of a ballerina from an anonymous magazine. After a couple from New Jersey adopted her, she quickly made good on that dream. At age thirteen, DePrince earned a scholarship to the renowned American Ballet Theater’s summer intensive programme.

Turning tragedy into triumph, ballet dancer Michaela DePrince embodies using passion as a route to joy.