11-year-old Nigerian barefoot ballet dancer grabs scholarship after viral video

Theodora Aidoo August 10, 2020
Pic Credit: Seun Sanni/Reuters

Anthony Mmesoma Madu from Nigeria caught the world’s attention when a video of him practicing ballet in the rain went viral across social media. Last month, he became a social media sensation after the world saw a video of him dancing with his barefoot in the rain on the concrete outside the studio where he trains.

The video was posted by his teacher and caught the eye of over 15 million people. Madu has not only garnered a new fanbase from all over the world, but has received a scholarship to one of the best ballet schools in the world.

According to reports, Madu’s parents who live in Lagos, Nigeria, wanted him to become a priest but the youngster is already captivating millions with his ballet moves. “When I am dancing, I feel as if I am on top of the world,” he told Reuters.

Upon seeing his talent, actress Viola Davis shared Madu’s video with the caption “reminds me of the beauty of my people.”

“When my friends see me dancing, they feel like, ‘what is this boy doing, is he doing a foreign dance?’” he said. “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 video caught the eye of Cynthia Harvey, who works as an art artistic director of the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Dance. She has presented the young Nigerian with a full scholarship to the prestigious American ballet school.

“A friend who lives in the U.K. sent me the video. Within a day, I was trying to find him,” Harvey told the Cincinnati Inquirer. “A child who shows this much dedication, you just have to help. If there is anything the world has taught us, it’s that we have to inspire all sorts of people and that we all have a lot to learn from one another. Providing opportunities for Daniel and Anthony is the right thing to do,” Harvey said.

As if that was not enough, Madu’s video also resulted in a number of donations to Leap of Dance Academy where he trains. The academy teaches its students at no charge. Founder Daniel Ajala Owoseni said he will use the money from the donations to promote ballet in Nigeria.

The academy has also presented his teacher with a two-week training course to further develop his skills to help other students he teaches at his dance academy in his home.

“I saw the need to bring a form of art that shows discipline, dedication and commitment,” he said. “Students who are able to learn all of these can … transfer (them) into other spheres of their lives,” Ajala Owoseni said.

The American Ballet Theatre has arranged for virtual training this summer for Anthony Mmesoma Madu. Next year, he will train in the United States on a scholarship from Ballet Beyond Borders.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: August 10, 2020


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