Chapter 30–Epilogue

In this memoir, ballet dancer Michaela DePrince recounts her difficult childhood in Sierra Leone, her adoption by an American family, and her success as a ballerina.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. infraction
    a violation of a law or rule
    She would give us detention and ground us for a month for even slight infractions.
  2. contrite
    feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses
    I felt so contrite when I saw the disappointment in his eyes.
  3. dainty
    delicately beautiful
    My greatest desire as a ballerina was to be delicate, so I was very grateful to be given this dainty but challenging role.
  4. tender
    hurting
    My ankle was painful and tender, but I didn’t let it show on my face.
  5. staccato
    marked by or composed of disconnected parts or sounds
    Of all the classical dances approved for use in the YAGP, La Esmeralda might be the most difficult, because of the staccato beat of the music.
  6. marionette
    a figure operated from above with strings by a puppeteer
    When I was dancing this variation, it was tempting to move my body stiffly to accompany the staccato, but this would have made me look jerky, like a marionette.
  7. feral
    wild and menacing
    They had come to Adam and Melissa almost like feral children.
  8. reverberate
    ring or echo with sound
    Unlike Mia and Mariel, I had no talent for ASL, but Bernice and I bonded when I taught her ballet, hooking up the stereo on the deck so that the wooden floor reverberated with the beats.
  9. documentary
    a film presenting the facts about a person or event
    She told me that she had received an email from a woman named Bess Kargman, who was producing a ballet documentary.
  10. contentment
    happiness with one's situation in life
    Bess’s prying camera caught me during moments of joy, like when I greeted my parents after my successful performance in the 2010 YAGP in Philadelphia, and times of contentment, like when I picnicked with my family on the deck of our home on an unseasonably warm spring day.
  11. emote
    give expression to, in a stage or movie role
    While I was emoting for Bess, I was also looking inward and beginning to analyze who I was.
  12. elude
    be incomprehensible to
    I also acquired the graciousness that had eluded me at thirteen, and I made it a part of my dancing and my daily life.
  13. flourish
    grow vigorously
    As the film’s fame flourished, interest in me as a person and a ballet dancer grew.
  14. activist
    a militant reformer
    I had always wanted to be a role model to little girls and an activist for change.
  15. reclaim
    reassert one's right or title to
    Then I began to tremble, fearing that I’d find that Uncle Abdullah was trying to reclaim me.
  16. indignant
    angered at something unjust or wrong
    I continued reading, and when I saw that a woman with the last name of Bangura was listed as my mother, I became indignant.
  17. sheepish
    showing a sense of shame
    I looked at her with a sheepish grin.
  18. allure
    the power to entice or attract
    Cuba isn’t so far from the United States, I decided, but then I remembered the political situation and realized that despite the allure of that beautiful company, joining it would be impossible for me.
  19. respective
    considered individually
    So I had to enjoy the experience of performing with these wonderful dancers while we were all far from our respective homes.
  20. frenetic
    excessively agitated
    My time in South Africa was filled with frenetic energy and frantic activity.
  21. mundane
    found in the ordinary course of events
    Mundane worries that I had during rehearsals, like being dropped during a high lift or twisting an ankle in a turn or, horror of horrors, forgetting the choreography—these all disappeared when I stepped from behind the curtain and into the life of Gulnare.
  22. haughty
    having or showing arrogant superiority
    I learned from the very kind director that there was no need for someone in his position to remain aloof and haughty as others often do.
  23. motivational
    of or serving to provide incentive or stimulus to action
    The U.S. embassy had invited me to give a motivational talk in a school.
  24. rapt
    feeling great delight and interest
    The rapt attention of the students gave me courage, and I began to tell my story.
  25. flag
    weaken or become less intense
    The trip to South Africa had revived my flagging spirits.
  26. languish
    lose vigor, health, or flesh, as through grief
    Instead of languishing in my misery, I picked up my broken heart and began auditioning for North American classical ballet companies.
  27. acclaim
    enthusiastic approval
    From 1969 until 2004, DTH traveled the world, performing to great acclaim.
  28. ensemble
    the chorus of a ballet company
    Then, under the pressure of tremendous debt, it closed its doors, keeping only its school and ensemble open in order to provide ballet training to the black children of Harlem and beyond, preparing them for careers that, sadly, were almost nonexistent.
  29. heyday
    the period of greatest prosperity or productivity
    DTH had had forty dancers, and it was able to perform full-scale ballets in its heyday.
  30. repertoire
    a collection of works that an artist or company can perform
    If, at the end of that year, my soul wasn’t satisfied by the company’s repertoire and I didn’t feel passionate about it, then I could audition elsewhere.
  31. integrity
    moral soundness
    I suppose I could have tried to get out of my commitment to DTH, but my parents had raised me with integrity, and I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do.
  32. relish
    derive or receive pleasure from
    I was cast in the role of the Black Swan in an excerpt from Swan Lake, and I relished the chance to demonstrate my technique and grace as a classical dancer.
  33. woo
    make amorous advances towards
    The reviewer said that the Black Swan was trying to woo Prince Siegfried with her rock-solid technique.
  34. epiphany
    an inspiration or divine manifestation
    This performance was an epiphany, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
  35. akin
    similar in quality or character
    I felt that the hiring of a very black girl like me by one of the top classical ballet companies was akin to a white man’s offering Rosa Parks a seat at the front of the bus in 1955!
  36. ponder
    reflect deeply on a subject
    As a result of all these honors and my recent hiring by a classical ballet company, I began to ponder my good fortune.
  37. persistence
    steady determination
    I really didn’t have anything material to share, other than a closet full of tutus, but I did have a lot of passion, drive, persistence, and hope—especially hope.
  38. memoir
    an account of the author's personal experiences
    When my mother first suggested that I might want to write my memoir and offered to help me do it, I didn’t see the point.
  39. hardy
    invulnerable to fear or intimidation
    In addition to all the rest of my blessings, I had been blessed with a hardy dose of hope.
  40. profound
    far-reaching and thoroughgoing in effect
    My life was most profoundly impacted by two women.
Created on September 13, 2018 (updated September 13, 2018)

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