Nigerian-born Anthony Mmesoma Madu has danced his way into a life-changing opportunity.
According to People, a viral video of 11-year-old Madu caught the attention of Cynthia Harvey, the artistic director of the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Dance in New York.
In the minute-long clip, Madu showcases his exceptional ballet skills while dancing barefoot in the rain. After Harvey saw the clip, she reached out to Madu’s dance school, Leap of Dance Academy—where he is one of 12 students—and offered him a full scholarship to ABT’s virtual Young Dancer Summer Workshop.
“A child who shows this much dedication, you just have to help,” Harvey told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “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.”
“Anthony is a very committed student,” said Madu’s teacher and founder of Leap, Daniel Ajala Owoseni. “Right from day one, he has always been very time conscious. We are trying to change stereotypes around ballet dance. Boys can actually do ballet.”
Madu — who likens dancing to “dreaming” — hopes his viral video (Viola Davis is a fan!) will also challenge stereotypes around boys and dance.
“When people see ballet they think it is only for girls,” he said. “How I want them to see me is when I am dancing, they know that there is a male ballet dancer.”