In lyrical prose, Meg Medina creates a fantastical world in which a young girl uncovers the true meaning of family, the significance of identity, and, most important, the power of a mother’s love.

A performing arts interpretation of the magical novel

'MILAGROS, Girl from Away' written by Meg Medina

Milagros de la Torre hasn’t had it easy. Ever since her father left his family behind to become a pirate, she’s been teased at school. Still, Milagros loves her small island - Las Brisas - in the Caribbean that can’t be found on any map. And she finds comfort in those around her who recognize her special gifts. But everything changes when marauders destroy the island and, with it, most of the inhabitants. Milagros manages to escape on a rowboat where she drifts out to sea with no direction, save for the mysterious manta rays that guide her to land. What is she to make of this strange new place, and who will watch over her now that she is alone?

The Latin Ballet of Virginia is proud to present our dance and theatre interpretation 

of Meg Medina’s novel, MILAGROS, Girl from Away.

Meg Medina has published adult stories about the Latino experience and has taught writing to children. She has also written for the Latin Ballet original production of Son Corazon. She wrote the poem of "The Hands of my Aunt," based on her childhood memories of welcoming her family from Cuba. We thank Meg for her valuable contributions to and collaboration with the Latin Ballet of Virginia

Life in Las Brisas

Milagros de la Torre, a girl of 12, lived with her mother Rosa in the peaceful island of Las Brisas. She had known and loved her father until the very day he disappeared for the adventurous life of a pirate.

Children gossiped about Milagros.  But without fail, Milagros quietly made sure the culprits paid a price for their offense.  A cruel child would find a tree frog inside her school desk or dead cockroaches in his lunch bag or a lizard in her hair…      

Luckily, Milagros had one true friend in her teacher, Señorita Alma, who knew she was smart and good at heart.

How does a mother teach a girl to let go of sadness? Perhaps by believing in magic…  Rosa – a woman blessed with many gifts – decided to share one very special gift with Milagros. There is much more of it in the world. You need only look where others do not see. It’s everywhere around you." Stingrays of every color had come to play.

Market Day at last! Rosa and Milagros brought their spectacular roses and special herbs to sell. Rosa knew the magic of plants and she loved to help her neighbors.

Carnaval & the Rubians

Carnival time was the happiest time of all. The gypsy Rubians would come with their parades. Who could have guessed that this would be the last happy day in Las Brisas?

Rosa is captured by the Rubians while trying to escape with Milagros: Corre Milagros! Run! Do not wait for me! Go to the ocean, you will know what to do! The waves crashed into her face and rolled her under again and again until she could no longer breathe. ‘REST, NOW, MILAGROS, she could hear the large stingray say…’

A Girl from the Sea

For many days, Milagros floated aimlessly on the sea. But at last, her dinghy came dangerously close to crashing on rocky cliffs.  John Winters, his wife, Patty, and their daughter, Diana rescued Milagros.

A girl from the sea! How very marvelous, Patty thought. A girl from Away, maybe even from the place where mermaids live…just like one of my paintings.

If only everyone were as happy to welcome Milagros. Diana hated to share her parents with anyone. 

"You cannot stay here," she whispered to Milagros. "Go back to Away."

And where was Diana? Still trying to find a way to rid herself of Milagros. One day at the shore, she found a bottle with a note inside: "Rosa lives!" The note was from Milagros father. Diana hid it away in the garden, her hate and jealousy growing everyday. But no secret can be hidden forever…

Meanwhile, Milagros was discovering that even a new place can offer pleasant surprises. Elvirita Perez was an old seamstress, who had also come from away. She had worked all her life to help her daughter and grandson, in Mexico.

Soon, Milagros and Elvirita were fast friends. Elvirita loved to tell stories, and her beautiful Spanish language made Milagros feel a little like home. Elvirita taught her how to sew. And one day, they made a manta – a lovely quilt from scraps of Milagros’ old uniform from Las Brisas, "her last clothes from home."

The Cursed Ship

Far away on the sea, Rosa was prisoner on a ship of pirates, thanks to Miguel de la Torre.

 "You have visited our little slave at night, washed her wounds, tended to her. Your dear wife dies tomorrow at high noon. And it will be you who will feed her to the sharks." "Behold, pirates," shouted El Capitán. "We offer to the sea the most horrible act. Let the curse be lifted from this vessel."

Rosa fell almost gracefully to the ocean, her eyes closed, smiling and to the shock of El Capitán, Miguel de la Torre, jumped in after her.  "Forgive me!" he cried. But as Miguel reached for Rosa, he found only loose rope. As the nose of the first hungry shark bumped him, he saw the most glorious pink ray, its enormous wings pulsing to safety. Rosa’s love had been stronger than all his hate and sorrow. She was free at last to find her daughter.

The Rain of Roses

Strange events began to happen in Holly Pointe. A mysterious mist covered the entire town, and the fragrance of roses was everywhere. Each time Diana tried to speak her lies, petals and more petals fell from her mouth, 

until there was a mound of petals burying her to the ankles. Only the truth would make them stop. "It said ‘Rosa is alive," Diana gasped between convulsions… "The message in the bottle!" 

Reconciliations and a New Beginning

And Milagros? She found her old dinghy at the shore and set out on the water. John and Elvirita were helpless to stop her. Suddenly, a black shadow filled the water. It was a manta ray sent for Milagros. The scent of roses was strong. Milagros breathed in deeply, recognizing the scent of Rosa’s groves. She knew she would find her! She swam gently until she found all her rays, caressing their backs, looking carefully over each. Then she saw the most magnificent ray, shimmering and opalescent like a pink pearl.

"Mama," Milagros whispered. The pink ray encircled her child in her powerful wings…

 

To find joy and magic in life you most look inside yourself and see beyond what others see.

 

See yourself with your own eyes.
— This was the message that Milagros sealed in her own bottle and dropped into the bay.