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How Dance Pirouetted this Nigerian Boy’s Life

Eleven-year-old Anthony Mmesoma Madu, Nigeria’s viral ballet dancer, has received multiple scholarships from around the world to pursue his passion. One of those scholarships came from the prestigious Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre in the US. As Anthony prepares to embark on a journey of a lifetime in 2021, he describes how things have changed for him. A video of him dancing barefoot in the rain on concrete outside the studio where he trains, the Leap of Dance Academy, went viral last month. More than 15 million people have watched his joyful leaps and pirouettes, undeterred by the rain and coarse surface. Leap of Dance Academy reshared the video last week with the caption, “Changing stereotypes. 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 Madu. The video caught the eye of Cynthia Harvey, the artistic director at the elite American Ballet Theatre of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Dance in New York, which gave him a scholarship and arranged internet access for virtual training this summer. Next year, he will train in the United States on a scholarship from Ballet Beyond Borders.