11-Year-Old Nigerian Boy Leaps to Fame

How social media helped make a dream come true.

Aug 19, 2020

Dancing can be magic. At least it is to 11-year-old Anthony Mmesoma Madu from Nigeria when he dances ballet, he told BBC News. A video of Anthony’s pirouettes went viral, transforming him into an instant star, and earning him a prestigious scholarship. Anthony’s sweet story has uplifted millions and offers hope for the future.

It began on a bleak, rainy day in an alley outside sprawling Lagos. But Anthony seemed unaware, pirouetting barefoot across puddles, leaping, and twirling. His dance teacher took a quick video, posted it on social media, and went back to teaching.

Then the magic of “likes” and “shares” infused these few simple seconds with the potential of creating a new life. Actress Viola Davis saw the video and tweeted: “Reminds me of the beauty of my people. We create, soar, can imagine, have unleashed passion, and love...despite the brutal obstacles that have been put in front of us. Our people can fly!!!”

In the past few weeks, some 15 million people from around the globe watched mesmerized as Anthony danced across the slick pavement. Thanks to this support, he received a scholarship to study virtually with some of the world’s best ballet dancers at New York’s American Dance Theater.

Famous male ballet dancer Calvin Royal III was also moved by Anthony’s dancing, NBC reported. He reached out from across the world to Anthony and his classmates at the Leap of Dance Academy in Nigeria. He told the young dancers on a video chat, “You are not only changing your world there, in Africa but you're changing the hearts and minds of so many people.”

Posting the video of Anthony dancing on the Leap of Dance Facebook page, Anthony’s dance teacher Daniel Ajala Owonseni wrote: “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.”

Many  people in Anthony’s community have never seen a boy dancing ballet before.He told BBC, “When my friends see me dancing, they feel like, ‘what is this boy doing, is he doing a foreign dance?’  Where I live there are no male ballet dancers like me.”

But now, his love of dancing is paying off for Anthony, his incredible teacher, his classmates, future Nigerian dancers as well as boys who love ballet.

This is the stuff of fairytales. The whole world is behind Anthony as he soars, fulfilling a dream and setting the stage for talented children around the world to one day follow in his graceful footsteps.

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NICOLE NATHAN BEM, CONTRIBUTOR
Nicole is an editor, blogger and author who has recently left her urban life in order to be more connected with nature. In her spare time, she’s outdoors hiking in the forest, mountain biking or tending to her new permaculture garden.