11-year-old Nigerian ballet star’s video earns him a dream scholarship


THE graceful movements of an 11-year old boy dancing ballet in the rain captured not only the hearts of the social media community but also the attention of a prominent ballet theatre. 

The viral video shows Anthony Mmesoma Madu dancing a ballet routine barefoot in the rain, showcasing exquisite pirouettes and leaps just outside his ballet academy, Leap of Dance Academy, where he trains in Nigeria.

The video of Madu received more than 15 million views and received praise from the likes of American actress Viola Davis, who reposted the video on her Instagram feed with the caption, “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!!!”

Madu’s ballet routine was also noticed by Cynthia Harvey, the artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Dance in New York, who told American newspaper the Cincinnati Enquirer, “A friend who lives in the UK sent me the video. Within a day, I was trying to find him”.

The Cincinnati Enquirer also reported that Harvey eventually managed to track down Madu and his dance school teacher, Daniel Ajala Owoseni. She offered the 11-year-old a full scholarship from Ballet Beyond Borders, so that Madu could attend the ABT virtual Young Dancer Summer Workshop.

According to a report by BBC News, Madu is one of the 12 students at the Leap of Dance Academy in Lagos, who are trained by Owoseni, who founded the academy in 2017 and has been teaching ballet for free despite not having space.

“When my friends see me dancing, they feel like, what is this boy doing, is he doing a foreign dance?” Madu 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.”

The viral video has also seen people donating to the Leap of Dance Academy, with Owoseni telling BBC that the money from the donations will go towards promoting ballet in Nigeria. 

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