Trending

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.

Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Training
Getty Images

I'm a college freshman, and my dance program isn't challenging enough. We only have ballet three times a week and a few hours of modern, and my classmates aren't as dedicated as I am. There's a small dance company nearby, where I was hoping to take extra classes, but I don't have a car. I want to transfer, but I feel like I won't be in good enough shape for auditions. —Tara

Keep reading... Show less