Born in Sierra Leone, DePrince lost her parents during the country’s civil war. She has written about her story in multiple books, including the early reader book Ballerina Dreams: From Orphan to Dancer. From her site:
Michaela had vitiligo, a disease that causes patches of skin to lose its color. In Michaela’s native land vitiligo was considered a curse of the devil. This caused her uncle to abandon her at an orphanage. There she was taunted and abused by the women who cared for the children. They called her the devil’s child.
One day Michaela found a magazine blowing in the wind. On its cover was a photograph of a beautiful ballerina en pointe. Once Michaela saw this she found hope and determination to one day become just like that ballerina. Soon after the discovery of the magazine, an American family adopted Michaela… Michaela’s new parents recognized her talent for ballet. They enrolled her in ballet classes and supported her passion for the art.
Now a soloist for the Dutch National Ballet, DePrince performed the piece at the company’s opening of the season gala in 2018:DePrince also performed with the Dance Theatre of Harlem professional company when she was 17 years old. Go inside the New York City company in this Mashable video: Brown Ballerinas.
Related videos include how ballet pointe shoes are made for The Royal Ballet and Ballet Rotoscope.