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Star dancer born into war grows up to inspire
Ballet dancer born into Sierra Leone war, adopted to US, rises to top to inspire young girls
By The Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) ¯¯¯ Michaela DePrince was little more than a toddler when she saw her first ballerina ¯¯¯ an image in a magazine page blown against the gate of the orphanage where she ended up during civil war in the West African nation of Sierra Leone. It showed an American ballet dancer posed on tip toe.

The 17-year-old told The Associated Press this week that she wished "to become this exact person," and from the misery of the orphanage she saw hope in it.

Now Michaela is the one inspiring young Africans: she escaped the war in her homeland, was adopted by an American couple and hopes to become one of the few leading black female dancers in the world of professional ballet. Next week, she returns to Africa for the first time, where she will perform as a guest artist of South Africa's two biggest dance companies.

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