A Nigerian 11 year-old boy Anthony Mmesoma Madu has captivated millions in America and around the world with ballet dance.
His parents in Ikorodu, in Lagos state wanted him to become a priest. But instead, he has proven more dexterous with ballet.
A video of him dancing barefoot in the rain on concrete outside the studio where he trains, the Leap of Dance Academy in Ikorodu, went viral last month.
“When I am dancing, I feel as if I am on top of the world,” he told Reuters.
More than 15 million people have watched his joyful leaps and pirouettes, undeterred by the rain and coarse surface.
The video caught the eye of the elite American Ballet Theatre, which gave him a scholarship and arranged internet access for virtual training this summer.
A week’s course in the U.S. was also arranged to begin on 3 August.
But Madu’s trainer, Daniel Ajala Owoseni told P.M. News on Tuesday, Madu could not go because of travel restrictions.
Next year, Madu will train 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?” 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 also sparked a flood of donations to the academy, which teaches its students for free.
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
Founder Daniel Ajala Owoseni said he will use the money, and fame, to promote ballet in Nigeria, a country where it is not yet widely practised.
“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.”