After a video of him dancing an elegant pirouette on a muddy street got him noticed on the internet, a 11-year-old Nigerian boy has received a full scholarship from an elite American ballet company.
The video of Madu Mmesoma Anthony dancing barefoot on a street in the rain had taken internet by storm. Hollywood actor Voila Davis had also shared the video and wrote, “We create, soar, can imagine, have unleashed passion, and love….despite the brutal obstacles that have been put in front of us! Our people can fly!!!”
The video caught the attention of many, including Cynthia Harvey, the artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Dance in New York.
“A friend who lives in the UK sent me the video,” Harvey told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Within a day, I was trying to find him.”
Harvey eventually managed to track down the boy and his dance school teacher, Daniel Ajala Owoseni. She has now offered the 11-year-old a full scholarship so that Anthony can attend the ABT virtual Young Dancer Summer Workshop, said the Cincinnati Enquirer report.
Apart from Anthony’s three-week training, the company will also provide his teacher Owoseni with a two-week advance training course to help him teach others better.
View this post on Instagram
As a dance school in Africa, and Nigeria to be precise our academy stands to educate our audience that ballet is here to stay; "It's for both boys and girls'' said Anthony Mmmesoma Madu. (When ballet was created 400 years ago, it was created for men. Men were the first dancers. a @collagedance ) Special shoutout to all parents who have have allowed their boys to dance. Speaking from the Nigerian perspective most children are enrolled in school to have a white collar job but never to become a dancer. We hope supportive and inspirational mom like Anthony's mom has given us a reason for early child talent discovery. We are the Nigerian ballet school. A heartfelt thank you to our partners @blacksinballet @ingridsilva @jmentzos @fabiocmariano @m.s.t_dance_center @ruangaldino @travelingtutusinc @fernandomontan0 @thalemawilliamsstudiosusvi @grishkoworld @nikolayworld @bbcnews @graceekpu @balletnoire @abtschool @hurkmanslinda @katwildish #boys #blackboydancetoo #boyswillbeboys ##boyscan #blackboysrock #blackdancers #goboy #dancer #blacklivesmatter #qualityaboveall #nigerianballetschool #nigeria #leapofdanceacademy #vocationaltraining #boys #dancingintherain #viralvideo #vocationalballetschool #goon #bbc #bbcafrica #bbcnews #2020
According to a report by BBC News, Anthony is one of the 12 students at the Leap of Dance Academy in Lagos, which shared the video originally.
The academy, founded in 2017, is the brainchild of Daniel Ajala Owoseni, who has been been teaching ballet for free despite not having any space.
Talking to NPR about the boy and his new found fame, his teacher said that Anthony is a bit of a perfectionist.
“Anthony has been a very dedicated student. From the day when he started, he’s someone who if he doesn’t get the combination correctly, he start crying in class,” Owoseni said.
About the boy drawing attention from all quarters, Owoseni said he is optimistic and glad it happened.
View this post on Instagram
Proper repetitions forms solid muscle memories. (Barre combination- Battement tendu and degagé) ~~Primary ballet 2 students~~ #balletnigeria #balletkids #kids #blackkids #leapofdanceacademy #yes #vocationalschool #nigerianballetschool #blackboys #blackgirls #blacklivesmatter #dedication #training #girls #boys #travelingtutusincnigeria #africa #qualityaboveall #nigerian #childhood #balletlove #wemove #yeswecan #children #dance #thankyoumom #parents #balletteachers
According to Reuters, the elite ABT, which gave Anthony the scholarship also arranged for him to get internet access so that he can access the virtual training this summer. The next year, he will get a hands-on training in the United States on a scholarship from Ballet Beyond Borders.
“When my friends see me dancing, they feel like, what is this boy doing, is he doing a foreign dance?” Anthony told BBC. “Now I have won a grand prize to go to the U.S. … I will be in the plane and this is what I am waiting for, and ballet has done it for me.”