Michaela DePrince
Fashion, Fashion Blog

Michaela DePrince: Dancers Shaping Culture

I get to be a YoungLife leader and hangout with high school students. One of the topics that have come up when we have our weekly meeting is why do bad things happen to good people? One of the many comments that were brought up was maybe we are asking the wrong question. Maybe we should be asking why do good things happen in a crazy, wacky world. That changes your mindset doesn’t it? As a story teller and a professional question asker, I take it upon myself to report on good things that happen. When something remarkably good happen in a crazy world the best way to tell the story is by defining it as a miracle.

View More: http://corriemick.pass.us/hannahandthefullcolorlifeAs I have said before I used to be a ballerina, a world of tutus and intense pliets. This year the Huffington Post describes ballet as

Ballet is one of the most historical art forms we have left in the world. It is based firmly in tradition, which separates a ballet student from forms of more “current” dance, such as lyrical.

Ballet is definitely from another time. This form of dance can be whimsical, and to a child around the age of 4, almost magical.

This is how Michaela DePrince describes ballet. Michaela was adopted from an orphanage at age 4. Labels like orphan and “devil child”, which is what she was called because of vitiligo on her neck, could stick with a child for their entire lives. Through remarkable circumstances, this was not the case for the little girl from Sierra Leone. Michaela was not fed at the orphanage, witnessed a teacher’s murder and was also stabbed. She tells the story of when a magazine cover was laying on the ground in front of the orphanage. She picked up the cover and saw a beautiful ballerina wearing a tutu and crown. She remembers holding on to the photo thinking “I want to be just like her”.

When Elaine adopted Michaela they were sitting on the floor of a hotel in a war torn country where there was no running water and she pulled out some toys. Michaela was not satisfied and was searching for something. She stood on her tip toes, spun around and still not able to communicate with Elaine, because she did not speak english, Michaela pulled the magazine clipping out from her underwear and pointed to the shoes.View More: http://corriemick.pass.us/hannahandthefullcolorlife

“She thought all American women danced on their tippy toes.” -Elaine DePrince

Later, when Elaine DePrince adopted Michaela and another girl from the orphanage, bringing both home to the states, Michaela was able to take dancing classes. Little did she know there would be other difficulties in becoming the girl in the photo.

Elaine says she would hear dance mothers tell other mothers,

“Doesn’t she know that black girl’s feet do not point?”.

Other many hurdles have been thrown towards the family as Michaela flew to the top dance schools. At age eight, she was told that she couldn’t perform as Marie in The Nutcracker because

“America’s not ready for a black girl ballerina”.

At age nine a teacher told her mother that black dancers weren’t worth investing money in. Michaela danced at Rock School in Philadelphia, PA, and was the youngest member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She is now based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with the Dutch National Ballet. She has done photoshoots for Teen Vogue and was a guest on Dancing with the Stars. Her documentary is called First Position.

“Extraordinarily written. Hardship adds to the strength of the people, and artists, we become, and Michaela is nothing short of a miracle, born to be a ballerina. For every young brown, yellow, and purple dance, she is an inspiration” – Misty Copeland

I think Misty, another ballerina who is shaping history, said it well, Michaela is nothing short of a miracle.

What are some miracles in your crazy life? Do you need to change your perspective?

Photos by Corrie Mick leave a comment at www.corriemick.com 

Live in full color.

Check out Misty Copeland’s similarly inspiring story here

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