Hope in a Ballet Shoe: Oprhaned by War, Saved by Ballet
Michaela DePrince, Elaine DePrince
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Hope in a Ballet Shoe tells the story of Michaela DePrince. Growing up in war-torn Sierra Leone, she witnesses atrocities that no child ever should. Her father is killed by rebels and her mother dies of famine. Sent to an orphanage, Michaela is mistreated and she sees the brutal murder of her favourite teacher.
Michaela and her best friend are adopted by an American couple and Michaela begins to take dance lessons. But life in the States isn't without difficulties. Unfortunately, tragedy can find its way to Michaela in America, too, and her past can feel like it's haunting her. The world of ballet is a racist one, and Michaela has to fight for a place amongst the ballet elite, hearing the words 'America's not ready for a black girl ballerina.'
And yet... Today, Michaela DePrince is an international ballet star, dancing for The Dutch National Ballet at the age of nineteen.
This is a heart-breaking, inspiring autobiography by a teenager who shows us that, beyond everything, there is always hope for a better future.
this child to work.’ ‘What need does she have of womanly chores? She is only a child herself,’ Papa would remind his brother, and then couldn’t resist adding: ‘Yes, not even four years old, and yet she speaks Mende, Temne, Limba, Krio and Arabic. She picks up languages from the marketplace and learns quickly. She will surely become a scholar.’ Papa didn’t need to rub any more salt in Uncle Abdullah’s wounds by reminding him that Usman, who was several years older than me, lagged far behind me in
them, reasoning that it wouldn’t hurt me as much when they died. What was worse, I pulled away from my sister Mia as well. Mia had been the one constant in my life for many years. She had been my first real friend and only real ally in the orphanage. Yet now I rejected her too. We began arguing constantly, and I stopped confiding in her like I used to do. I learned from the loss of Teddy that people have different ways of dealing with grief. I know now that I chose a painful way of coping with
hours, sweating and shivering with fear. My dreams had been filled with dreadful memories of Africa. It had been the first time in years that the terrors of my early childhood had come back so vividly to haunt me. This made me wonder if I was ready to return. More than anything else, I feared being kidnapped and returned to the home of Uncle Abdullah. I got out my computer and did a Web search. I discovered that it was a five-hour flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Freetown, Sierra
told me that if I someday grew tired of classical ballet, I was welcome to join his company. I was honoured as much by the fact that he understood that I needed to be true to myself as I was by his invitation. It came as no surprise to me that the only companies that welcomed me were Alonzo King’s Lines and the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s new professional company. Both were predominantly ethnic, and neither of them were classical companies. They were both wonderful companies. I would feel proud
gestured toward the tall, thin auntie who called out, ‘Number One, Kadiatu Mansarey; Number Two, Isatu Bangura; Number Three, Sento Dumbaya …’ On and on she went as she called up most of the twenty-four girls and three boys who lived at the orphanage. Just then I realised that I didn’t even know my new friend’s name, but I was too scared to speak while the aunties spoke. I waited for her to step forward so that I could learn it. ‘Number Twenty-Six, Mabinty …’ I started to step forward, but my