Michaela DePrince, 21, who spent most of her childhood in Cherry Hill, was promoted last Thursday to soloist at the Dutch National Ballet during a recent run as Swanhilda in Coppelia.
Yet, she shares a lot with Sara Michelle Murawski, 25, who was fired on Friday from Pennsylvania Ballet. Both trained at Philadelphia's Rock School for Dance Education. Neither fit the mold of a traditional ballet dancer.
While Murawski, 25, is 5-feet, 11 inches - tall for a female ballet dancer - DePrince, 25, has very dark skin. She was born in Sierra Leone and adopted into a family in Cherry Hill. She was one of the children featured in a popular ballet movie called First Position, and she wrote a book about her unusual route to ballet with her mother, Elaine.
Murawski also found success in Europe, dancing first at Germany's Semperoper Ballet and then at the Slovak National Ballet as a soloist. But she longed to move back home and returned to the United States in September to become a principal dancer at Pennsylvania Ballet.