Hope in a Ballet Shoe


‘Hope in a Ballet Shoe‘ is the mesmerising true story of Michaela DePrince, prima ballerina with the Dutch National Ballet. Despite the early loss of her parents through war and malnutrition, and her own mistreatment, Michaela’s adoption from Sierra Leone, enabled a long held dream. She was unable to save any remnant of her loving home, but a magazine picture, discovered in a fierce wind at her orphanage, remained with her. It showed a ballet dancer, Megali Messac, en pointe. The image fascinated the young orphan who knew nothing of ballet, let alone magazines.

Through a fresh start in Philadelphia with the DePrince family, Michaela was able to explore the art form that had captivated her. Years of practice, rehearsal, performance and training led to her graduation from the American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Onassis School. From her debut with the South African ballet, Michaela DePrince danced with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, before joining the Dutch National Ballet.

‘Hope in a Ballet Shoe‘ offers a story that is almost too big to contemplate. Michaela was once Mabinti, a little girl, shunned by her village and orphanage staff because of her vitiligo and prodigious education, starved and without hope. Her emergence as a noted ballerina on the world stage, is astounding.

Bookwagon recommends this story to all readers. While dance, and Michaela’s devotion to it, is a major feature, the story is so much more. From its recent international history, to considerations of endemic racism, this is a story of today. We cheer on Michaela, her sisters, borthers,and near sacrificial pairs of parents, realising the ‘Hope in a Ballet Shoe’ 

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Hope in a Ballet Shoe

Michaela & Elaine DePrince

(Faber & Faber)

‘Hope in a Ballet Shoe‘ is the story of Michaela DePrince, trailblazing prima ballerina with the Dutch National Ballet. Orphaned through war in Sierra Leone, malnourished, mistreated and mistrusted because of vitiligo, Michaela’s story is inspiring and mighty. Bookwagon recommends ‘Hope in a Ballet Shoe‘ to its readers.


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