Have we mentioned that we love ballet movies? Thankfully, Dutch National Ballet just gave us something new to look forward to. The company announced today that filming is now underway for Coppelia, a new star-studded fusion of animation and ballet set to be released at the end of 2020. And, wait for it... Michaela DePrince will be dancing Swanilda, with DNB principal Daniel Camargo as her Franz.
Earlier this month we learned that former comp star and current UC Berkeley student Miko Fogarty will be giving a TEDx talk in March about her path from ballet to college. This news got us thinking about some of our favorite ballet TED talks from years past. Check out our top eight now!
As told to Amy Brandt.
Myrtha is a role I've always loved to watch, but when Tamara Rojo asked me to dance it for English National Ballet's Giselle last year as a guest artist, I thought she was crazy. The role is usually for a tall, strong dancer. I'm strong, but I'm also very petite. I thought people might criticize me for that. I also wore brown tights onstage, since I'm a brown dancer, and I was nervous people wouldn't understand that—but I got great comments on it.
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.
Ever since we heard that Michaela DePrince's memoir, Taking Flight, was going to be a movie, we've been on the edge of our seats waiting for more info. Almost three years later, it's been worth the wait—we just learned that the Queen of Pop herself will be directing DePrince's biopic.
"Michaela's journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity," Madonna said in a statement. "We have a unique opportunity to shed light on Sierra Leone and let Michaela be the voice for all the orphaned children she grew up beside."
Did anyone else do a double take while watching the Grammys on Sunday? As in, was that Michaela DePrince leaping across my TV screen during a Chase commercial? Well, the answer is yes. The Dutch National Ballet soloist and best-selling author now joins the likes of pro athletes Serena Williams and Stephen Curry in the bank's ad campaign promoting its QuickPay Mobile App.
Fall is in full swing; as the weather grows cooler, all we want to do is curl up with an autumnal treat (try these four pumpkin recipes) and a good movie. Luckily, Netflix has some of our favorite dance documentaries available for streaming. So next time you're settling down for a night in, look no further for what to watch; these films are sure to leave you inspired and even more in love with ballet.
Restless Creature, 2017
After limited release in theaters this summer, we're thrilled that Restless Creature has made it to Netflix. This emotional documentary follows former New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan as she makes the decision to retire from the company that she called home for 30 years. With plenty of dance footage (starting with her childhood training in Louisville, Kentucky), Restless Creature offers an intimate portrait of one of the world's most famous modern ballerinas.
A Ballerina's Tale, 2015
A Ballerina's Tale tells the story of Misty Copeland's rise to the top. Released just before her promotion to principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, the film follows Copeland as she overcomes self doubt and injury while making history as an African American ballerina. Interviews with Copeland and footage of her dancing are coupled with the voices of other black women who have been the first in their fields.
Between book deals and Under Armour endorsements, her own Barbie doll and a spot at the judges table on NBC's "World of Dance," Misty Copeland has been one of the few ballerinas to break into mainstream pop culture. Now she's conquering the world of cosmetics. Yesterday, Esteé Lauder announced that Copeland is the new spokesmodel for its fragrance, Modern Muse. The name seems fitting, given how her journey to becoming American Ballet Theatre's first black principal woman has inspired so many. She'll front the fragrance's campaign across digital, print, in-store and television advertisements.
The dancer-as-brand-ambassador theme is catching on. Back in ballet's glory days, Suzanne Farrell was the face of L'Air du Temps perfume, while Mikhail Baryshnikov attached his name to not one, but two colognes. After a prolonged dry spell, we're happy to see dancers receiving mainstream visibility again as more companies book them to represent their brands. Here are just a few recent examples:
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We can't get enough of Dutch National Ballet soloist Michaela DePrince. Her inspiring journey from an orphanage in war-torn Sierra Leone to the international stage has garnered her attention from outside the ballet world, too. DePrince recently starred in a Beyoncé music video, was named a Jockey spokesmodel, and up next, she'll appear on a special segment of NBC's "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly."
NBC news correspondent Kate Snow sat down with DePrince in an emotional interview, which airs this Sunday, July 16 at 7pm ET. Discussing everything from her heartbreaking childhood to the moment she came across a cover of Dance Magazine and decided her future, the special also features exclusive rehearsal footage and clips of DePrince performing with DNB that you don't want to miss! Click below for a preview.
We love it when ballet dancers also happen to be inspiring role models in the community, and Dutch National Ballet soloist Michaela DePrince certainly falls into that category. As of last night, her reach will be extending much further. She's the newest face of Jockey's "Show 'Em What's Underneath" campaign.
What exactly, you may ask, is she "showing"? Her message of hope, which is a huge part of her story. Before she became a household name, as one of the Youth America Grand Prix competitors featured in the documentary First Position, DePrince had overcome unthinkable challenges. Originally from the war-ravaged Sierra Leone, she lost her parents and became an orphan at a young age. When she was adopted, she moved to the United States and began a brand-new chapter. Her days were soon filled with her serious pursuit of ballet, a career that would have been impossible had she stayed in her home country.
It's Youth America Grand Prix time again, and when the competition wraps up this week, we'll meet some of tomorrow's potential stars. YAGP has a track record of predicting some of ballet's biggest names. Take a walk down memory lane with us and see for yourself.
For Michaela DePrince, 2017 is off to a happy start: Last week, the Dutch National Ballet dancer was promoted to soloist. The announcement came during the company's run of Coppélia, in which she made her debut as Swanhilda. Dancers Qian Liu and Sasha Mukhamedov were both promoted to principal as well.
DePrince's journey from an orphanage in Sierra Leone to a career as a professional ballet dancer is already legendary in the ballet world, and her role in the documentary First Position made her a household name. Since then, she's frequently been in the spotlight, and kept busy with a host of projects: There's her memoir, Taking Flight (soon to be adapted into a feature-length film), her role as a featured dancer in Beyoncé's visual album Lemonade, and her work as an ambassador for War Child Holland, which helps children living in war zones. She’s also become an international guest artist, and will be making her UK debut this month, dancing Myrtha in English National Ballet’s Giselle.
But for much of the time, the 21-year-old has been quietly growing and maturing as a dancer at Dutch National. After briefly dancing with Dance Theatre of Harlem, she joined Dutch National's junior company in 2013, and entered the main company the following year. She was promoted to coryphée in 2015, and to grand sujet at the beginning of 2016. In a Dance Spirit cover profile last year, she talked about her goal of becoming a principal dancer, and her desire to focus on her dancing and artistry, despite all the attention given to her backstory. “I’m here not because of my story,” she said, “but because of who I am as an artist.”
From the looks of it, her hard work and passion are paying off. Congratulations, Michaela!