From growing up as an orphan in a war-torn Sierra Leone to being a part of the Dutch National Ballet as the only dancer of African origin, Michaela DePrince’s story captures the attention of many aspiring dancers.
“I like to share with people I meet my optimism and hope,” said DePrince, 20. “I am most excited about reaching out to young girls who dream of a career in ballet, especially to African-American young girls, because they have few role models who look like them.”
DePrince will be part of Be Dance Studio’s summer workshop from July 12-17 in Miami Gardens where she will discuss her autobiography, Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina, which she co-wrote with her adoptive mother, Elaine DePrince.
“She has a very interesting story,” said Perpetua “Peppie” Phillips, 34, artistic director at Be Dance Studio.
Phillips and her sister, Persephonia “Sephie” Wilson, an acrobatics and gymnastics director, hope this workshop will motivate the children to follow their dreams.
“It is important to let them know that anything is possible no matter the circumstances,” Phillips said. “If they have a dream or goal they can keep pushing forward and accomplish it.”
Be Dance studio is a nonprofit organization that aims to “educate, encourage and entertain” young children and adults through the performing arts.
For Monica Oliver, dancing isn’t just a summer hobby, it is her passion.
“Dancing makes me feel calm,” said Monica,12, a dancer at Be Dance Studio. “When I’m upset I can just express it by dancing.”
Monica was accepted at the Dance Theater of Harlem in 2014 for a three-week intensive summer workshop, the same dance company where DePrince was the youngest principal dancer before moving to Amsterdam.
“I am very excited to finally meet her,” Monica said.
DePrince wants to inspire young people to follow their dreams.
Seeking mentors who can provide guidance is key to succeed, DePrince said.
“It takes a lot of spunk and spirit to succeed in what you choose to do, but it also takes people in your life,” she said. “Many young people disdain the older generations. Their wisdom can be a great source of encouragement and inspiration. No matter how much talent and drive I had, I know that I could not have made it without the parents who adopted me and encouraged me to make my way.”
The workshop begins Sunday with the viewing of First Position, a documentary DePrince starred in, followed by dancing workshops throughout the week and will end Friday with a social event.
It is open to the community.
“Arts have always been present in great societies,” Phillips said. “It is great not just for the kids but for the entire community as well to be a part of this event.”
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For more information:
▪ What: Michaela DePrince at BeDance Studio.
▪ When: 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday; 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday; 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; master class 6:30 to 8 p.m Thursday; and 5 to 9 p.m. Friday. There is no class on Wednesday.
▪ Where: 17560 NW 27th Ave., #118, Miami Gardens.
▪ Cost: Free, except for Thursday’s master dance class, $35 per person.
▪ For more information: Call: 305-624-0110 or visit www.bedancestudios.org.