An 11-year-old boy’s dance in the rain in Lagos, Nigeria, not only touched the hearts of millions who saw his passion but it is helping make his dream come true.
Those who saw Anthony Madu’s leaped and pirouetted without shoes on the rain-soaked street in a video posted by his dance teacher were in awe of his talent — So much so that the attention the young ballet dancer received online earlier this summer has helped him obtain a scholarship from a prestigious ballet company in New York City.
With the support of actress Viola Davis, who shared Anthony’s video with the caption “reminds me of the beauty of my people,” and actress Cynthia Erivo, 11-year-old Anthony was offered the opportunity to train at the American Ballet Theatre.
For Erivo, she says she felt a special, personal connection when she saw Anthony danced.
“They’re in Nigeria. I happen to be Nigerian as well. And I was like, this felt like a kismet moment,” the actress told NBC News. She was so moved by the young dancer’s performance, she connected him with the theater company. “I think it’s extremely important because I think boys are not encouraged to do this incredibly hard craft that actually encourages strength and stamina and beauty,” Erivo said.
Accompanying Anthony’s video, the Leap of Dance Academy 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.”
Anthony will now have the chance to train with some of the best ballet dancers in the world. When asked how ballet makes him feel, the boy said, “It makes me feel strong and happy when I’m dancing.”
“I see my future like that I’m going to be a professional dancer when I grew up,” Anthony said.
He and his dance classmates were able to video chat with American Ballet Theatre’s acclaimed soloist Calvin Royal III who offered encouragement from half a world away.
“You are not only changing your world there in Africa but you’re changing the hearts and minds of so many people,” Royal said.