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Exclusive: After Suffering a Ruptured Achilles Tendon, Michaela DePrince is Bouncing Back

Photo by Rob Becker, courtesy DePrince.

In January, a commercial for Chase's QuickPay Mobile App starring Michaela DePrince aired on national television. In March, it was announced that Madonna would be directing the movie version of DePrince's autobiography. And in April, she graced the cover of Harper's Bazarre Netherlands. With all the buzz, it's easy to forget that the Dutch National Ballet soloist has been sidelined since August 2017 with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Pointe checked in with DePrince to see how her recovery is going.

Last fall, you ruptured your Achilles tendon. How did that happen?

It was the first of August. I was in Sicily doing an event with Google. We had dinner at a temple and it was just absolutely incredible. I'm kind of clumsy outside of ballet, so I thought it would be safer if I took my shoes off. Then Lenny Kravitz starts to sing a song and he dedicates it to me. I got up and went to go sit next to him on the stage. When I got up from sitting, I stepped in the wrong place at the wrong time. I knew right away that I ruptured my Achilles. They brought me to an ambulance and took me to the hospital. I flew back to the Netherlands the next day and had an appointment with the doctors here in Amsterdam. They said, "Yeah, you ruptured three quarters of your Achilles." And then on August 14, I had surgery.


What would you say was the hardest part of the recovery process for you?

I was super excited about this season. I was going to do Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and so many other incredible roles. I would just start crying watching my friends because I knew how much fun they were having onstage and I wished I had that. The longest break I've ever had was two weeks. So to go from two weeks to five months, it was like, "Oh my God, I'm gonna die!" I love being active—I'm not the kind of person to just sit on the couch.

What did you do to stay in shape?

I've been doing Pilates with a machine. I think if I didn't do that while I was still in the cast I would've gone crazy. And I worked with a trainer three times a week so I could continue to strengthen things. I also worked with a physical therapist for about a month after surgery. I'm doing class now. I did pointe at barre, pointe at center, and I'm jumping already. But, yeah, Pilates, yoga and Gyrotonics. I think all dancers should do at least one of those three.

Are you ready to jump back into the swing of things come summer?

Super prepared! The only issue with being injured is that you get so tired that you need to take a 15 minute nap every day. So I'm a bit upset about missing my naps [laughs], but I'm really excited to just be back in the studio, to learn new pieces, to get onstage. To get that adrenaline rush, wear different pointe shoes, just to get that excitement back. I'll be back June/July. I could be back next month, but I think it's best to come back super-duper strong.


What can you tell us about the upcoming film version of your book, Taking Flight?

I think it's going to be a really great movie and reach out to so many people. Madonna and Camilla [Blackett, who wrote the script] are two incredible people. We have the same vision and I'm so excited for everybody to see it. I just feel bad because it's going to take quite some time and a lot of research and be a lot of work for them. You know, it's from when I was three years old till now. They have to go to Sierra Leone, New Jersey, Philly, New York and Amsterdam.

Is there anything else coming down the pipeline for you?

I'm having a gala next summer with War Child Holland to help raise money for children who have been affected by war. Everything we earn is going to go to help children in Uganda, which is where I was in October. I want to earn enough money to give the children solar panel lights so when they get home they can study. At least then they can go to university and make a life for themselves and for the next generation after that.

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