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dance school newcastle Who is Michaela DePrince and Why is Madonna Making a Movie About Her blog image

As a ballet school in North Tyneside we are always inspired by ballerina’s that we see and hear about and the story of Michaela DePrince who was a war orphan who finally fulfilled a dream of being a ballerina is a wonderful story so we were intrigued when it was announced Madonna was going to make a movie out of it.

Madonna is famous for many things, mostly her music, but her work in movies is also well known. But did you know it has been seven years since she last directed a movie? Well, it seems that she is returning to the role behind the camera and the subject is the life of Ballerina Michaela DePrince. But who is this and why is Madonna making a movie about her?

Who is Michaela DePrince?

Michaela DePrince was born Mabinty Bangura in 1995 in Sierra Leone. Orphaned during the war in the country, she then lost her adoptive father who was murdered when she was just three. Soon after, her adoptive mother died and Michaela fled to a refugee camp. She was malnourished, ill-treated and stigmatised due to a skin condition called vitiligo, which causes skin pigmentation.

In 1999, aged four, Michaela was adopted along with another girl called Mia by a couple from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. She became one of 11 children in the family, nine of whom were adopted.

Ballet career

Michaela had an interest in ballet from a young age after she saw a magazine cover of a ballerina when in Sierra Leone and kept it. She started training in ballet after moving to the US and went to the Rock School for Dance Education. Alongside this, she also completed an intense ballet course online through the Keystone National High School.

Her hard work paid off and she was awarded a scholarship to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Ballet. Despite facing racial discrimination, she went after her dream of a professional career. She graduated from the school in 2012 and joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Later career

In 2011, Michaela was one of the stars of a documentary film called First Position following the life of six dancers attempting to win a place in an elite ballet school. She also appeared on the TV show Dancing with the Stars. In the same year, she first danced for the Dance Company The Hague in the Netherlands, where she later returned to dance The Sugar Plum Fairy. She also performed in the South African Ballet Theatre when they produced Le Corsaire.

In 2013, she joined the junior company of the Dutch National Ballet and then the following year as an eleve. She has continued to move through the ranks of the Dutch National Ballet where she was the first African origin dancer to join the company.

The Madonna film

Michaela co-authored a book on her life with her adopted mother Elaine DePrince and is the book that is the inspiration for the film that Madonna has moved out of movie-retirement to make. When asked about the film, the star said how she had been awestruck by Michaela’s journey and inspired by what she has achieved.

While no cast has yet been announced, Camilla Blackett will be writing the screenplay. Hollywood studio MGM is behind the project and the movie will be called Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.