#wowsignalboost An ongoing series where we profile women and femmes making waves around the world.
Michaela DePrince, @michaeladeprince - ballet dancer, grand sujet, Dutch National Ballet
In the orphanage in Sierra-Leone where Michaela grew up the children were numbered number 1 to number 27. Number 1 got the most food and clothes. Number 27 got the least. ‘I was number 27,’ Michaela tells The Female Lead. ‘The aunties thought I was unlucky and evil because of my vertiligo.’ When she found a magazine with a picture of a ballerina on outside the orphanage she stored it in her underwear. ‘What struck me the most was that she looked so happy,’ she continued.
Once the rebels in her hometown occupied her orphanage, Michaela was adopted by a Jewish American couple. Her new parents allowed her to dance, and she went on to take part in the Youth America Grand Prix and secure places at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and the Dutch National Ballet.
But Michaela wasn’t always welcomed into the world of ballet, and thanks her family for her strength to continue: ‘I worried that my vitiligo would be a problem but my skin turned out to be an issue in a different way. They want to see the same thing in the corps de ballet – white skinny dancers. I was stigmatised as a child and I had to grow up very fast. Being adopted showed me that it was OK to be weak sometimes. Dancing can be very painful and exhausting, which is why it’s so important to have my family.’ Source: Grazia
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