On 4 April 2013 I posted a short article on Michaela dePrince while she was still in the United States. I wrote:
"I can't wait to see her in England".A few months later I noticed that she had come a lot closer to England by joining the Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet. I made a special trip to Amsterdam on the 24 November 2013 to see the company at the Stadsshowburg. I was bowled over by the performance as was the rest of the audience. It went wild for the company. Not just for dePrince - though she was magnificent - but for the other 11 members and their artistic director Ernst Meisner who have produced something remarkable. Now at last they are coming to the Linbury on the 28 and 29 May.
If you have never seen ballet before this is the show you should see first. If you are not charmed by these wonderful young dancers then nothing will charm you. If you only see one show this year this is the one you should see. Tickets range from £7 to £20 and students are entitled to concessions. You can book on-line or by calling 020 7304 4000.
I would have raved about dePrince had she come from Singapore or Suriname but I have a special regard for her because she does come from Sierra Leone. I was married to a Sierra Leonean for 28 years and I have travelled around that beautiful country. A lot of Sierra Leoneans live in London. I shall be bringing at least two of them, my sister in law and my daughter manquée, on the 29. I have told them about Amsterdam and also about dePrince's story which brought tears to their eyes. Sadness but also enormous pride.
Last week, attention was focused on Nigeria as Jim O'Neill has identified it as a future economic giant but I have seen comparable innovation and creativity in Freetown and indeed among the Sierra Leonean diaspora here. That tiny country does not get a very good press in England when it is noticed at all but it should. It has produced writers like Aminatta Forna, composers like John Akar and now a beautiful dancer. I am sure there are plenty more where they came from not to mention the scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, business leaders and others who will draw their inspiration and confidence from those artists.