Against The Odds: How This Orphan From Sierra Leone Became A Famous Ballerina

June 9, 2012  |  

Michaela Deprince does not look like the “typical” 17 year old ballet dancer. At 5’4″, she is shorter and more muscular than most ballet dancers. She is also from Sierra Leone and all three of these are noted “problems” (with the admitted race and body type issues in ballet) for someone who just wants to dance. But that isn’t stopping her at all.

In the latest issue of Teen Vogue, Michaela tells the story of how she was adopted from her home country after her parents were savagely killed in a war and she was placed in an “if you make it out, you’re lucky” foster home.  Her parents came to adopt one little girl (her sister – not by blood – Mia) and couldn’t bear the thought that Michaela would “never find a home” so they adopted her too.  Her ballet dreams stem from seeing a woman on the cover of a magazine in a ballerina costume and decided to always keep that picture with her. After moving to the United States with her adopted parents, Michaela showed them the picture and they decided to enroll her in a school in Philadelphia. Although the family eventually moved, 13 year old Michaela stayed in Philadelphia to dance at the school full-time and went to an online high school.

That is definitely a dramatic route for such a young lady but her parents support her and this dream.  She has decided not to go to college right now, opting to see how far her talents can take her.  Right now, Michaela is a member of the American Ballet Theater’s esteemed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in New York City.  There’s not much time for big fun because as Michaela says, all she has time for is class and practice.

Michaela Deprince is an amazing talent and can serve a s great role model for girls who want to dance but might be afraid because they don’t fit the “normal” look and type of a dance.

Check out the story here in its entirety as well as the beautiful pictures.



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