27 November 2012
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 program. The following year, she walked out of the world’s largest ballet competition, the Youth America Grand Prix, with another scholarship in tow. DePrince is now seventeen and shows no sign of slowing down. Earlier this year, she starred in the award-winning ballet documentary First Position and made her professional stage debut in Johannesburg. “I want to be the best dancer I can be,” she says. “And I want to change the way people see black dancers.” She adds that she’d like to open a school in Africa, “to show other kids that nothing is impossible in life.”
Learn more about Michaela DePrince HERE.
Produced by Julia Wilczok / Directed by Elias Ressegatti / Filming and Photos by Fridolin Schoepper / Editing by Noemi Sugaya / Sound by Alexander Hankoff / Music by Nathan Rosenberg at The DoghouseNYC / Lighting by Darell Day / Styling by Julie Brooke Williams with clothing & accessories by Morgane Le Faye, D&G and Arielle De Pinto / Hair & Make-Up by Ingeborg at Factory Downtown using Make Up Forever / Production Assistance by Jack Foley