Anthony Madu: 11-year-old Nigerian ballet dancer breaks stereotypes of classical dance

Anthony Madu: 11-year-old Nigerian ballet dancer breaks stereotypes of classical dance

“Dance isn’t just for girls”.

Anthony Madu, is a young dancer of 11 years old who is passionate about classical dance. Barefoot in the rain, he dances without an audience and without a roof, to fulfil his dream of one day becoming a great classical dancer. He feels good, immersed in a dream and forgets the difficulties of his life.

« The feeling that comes over me [when I dance] is as if I am dreaming. »

An incredible viral video changes his life.

Anthony’s art video went viral on social networks and reached 20 million views. It shows him dancing majestically in the rain with his bare feet on a muddy street in Lagos, Nigeria. Without music, he dances and breaks clichés and stereotypes about classical dance. It is a pure moment of poetry. Through his art and his passion, this 11-year-old boy shows that ballet is not only for girls. 

« When people see ballet they think it is only for girls. How I want them to see me is when I am dancing, they know that there is a male ballet dancer.. »




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FACTS ABOUT OUR PROGRAM. Behind those fanciful in class beauty and costumes are lots and lots of backstage hard work. With very little or no resources our kids are training to be the best they can. This is not to bring down anyone but to show their high level of dedication and committments to our program. Who wouldn’t be proud of them? What teacher wouldn’t pray for students who shows/comes to class with so much desire to learn? Kids who are ready to dance with or without conditions. Imagine what more we could achieve if we have more?🙂 DMs for more information. #leapofdanceacademy #covid19 #donation #vocational #nigerianballetschool #travelingtutusincnigeria #danceacademy #danceeducation #weloveyou #growth #weloveourpartners #yeswecan #dancing #learning

Une publication partagée par Leap of Dance Academy (@leapofdanceacademy) le

This incredible video was posted on the Instagram page of his dance school. And will completely change the course of his life.

But who is this young Nigerian prodigy really?

Anthony Mmesoma Madu is a ballet dancer from a modest family living in Nigeria. He works tirelessly to realize his dream of becoming a ballet dancer. He is one of 12 students at the Leap of Dance Academy, founded by self-taught dance teacher Daniel Ajala Owoseni. 

Owoseni created this school three years ago. A self-taught dancer, he teaches his love of ballet to children free of charge. And wishes to change the stereotypes surrounding classical dance.

Where does his desire to do ballet come from?

When he watched “Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses”, a 2006 cartoon about 12 princesses who share a passion for dance, Anthony wanted to become a prima ballerina.

“When I was watching the cartoon, I told my mum that I want to do ballet,” he said.

He started learning to dance after settling with his mother in Ojo, a suburb of Lagos. There they met Daniel Owoseni Ajala, founder of the Leap of Dance Academy. Despite the difficulties, he worked very hard to progress.

“When I first started I thought ballet was easy to dance, I didn’t know it was hard. But I kept on working hard… anytime he (Ajala) teaches us anything, I go home to practice and come back to show him”, said Madu.


Changing Classical Dance Stereotypes

Through this video, Anthony wanted to share his passion for classical dance and show the world that this style of dance is not just for girls. Every day, he had to fight against stereotypes. Many people tried to discourage him by telling him that he shouldn’t dance. 

Anthony told the BBC :

« Where I live, there are no boys dancing like me.. When people see me they say that ballet is meant for girls, sometimes it makes me discouraged but I keep on working hard and encourage myself”

“I want to be different,” he added. “To be a ballet dancer so that I won’t be the same thing with others who want to be doctors, lawyers or bankers.”

His artistic video will be a huge success and will break the codes and stereotypes of the ballet world. The young Nigerian boy dreams of fulfilling his dream of becoming a star dancer.

“I’m hoping to be a professional ballet dancer and I want people to know that ballet can blow here in Nigeria.”

Scholarship in the United States thanks to the video

Young Anthony’s viral video changed his life. American Ballet Theatre was touched by the talent of the 11-year-old Nigerian boy. Cynthia Harvey, the Artistic Director of the ABT School of Dance in New York, contacted him to offer him a scholarship to study in the United States. They set up a virtual training course in the summer of 2020. And next year, our young ballet dancer will go to the United States to perfect his skills and live his dream as a star dancer.

Cynthia Harvey told people :

« 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 all have a lot to learn from one another. Providing opportunities for Daniel and Anthony is the right thing to do. »

Anthony is very happy with this wonderful gift. 

11-year-old dancer explains :

“I was surprised because I didn’t have it in mind that the video would go viral. The best part of being recognized is when I got a grand prize to go to the U.S. because so many people don’t have that opportunity but I thank God that I do”.

“When I got that call that I won a scholarship to the U.S in the year 2021, I was very, very happy, I was like, ‘What? Is this what God can do?’” Madu recalled. Ballet, he added, “is hard to learn but if you put your effort, you can learn it.”.

Financial support for Nigerian school Leap of Dance

Leap of Dance School, founded by the self-taught dancer Daniel Ajala Owoseni, has received many financial donations thanks to this artistic video. The director of the school is very happy for Anthony, but he hopes that the impact of this video will highlight the different conceptions of ballet.

As a Nigerian ballet school, we use African headgear to represent the cultural acceptance of ballet. Dance is universal and ballet can mean different things to different cultures. Chinese companies, for example, are able to interpret ballet according to their own cultural acceptance. So in Nigeria we use African headgear to make ballet our own.”.

The incredible story of this young Nigerian ballet dancer has moved the whole world. His viral video bears witness to the social inequalities that exist in the world. But motivates and inspires people to believe in his dreams. Through his passion, Anthony breaks the clichés of classical dance, showing that it’s not just for girls.


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