A NIGERIAN boy Anthony Mmesoma Madu, who was offered multiple scholarships after a video showing him at the age of 11 years dancing ballet barefoot in the rain in Lagos State went viral, has met with the Queen Consort Camilla.
Madu received scholarship offers from the prestigious Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre in the United States, Ballet Beyond Borders and the Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham.
Camilla met Madu who is now 13 years old during a visit to the Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham, Central England on Tuesday, March 14, as part of the school’s centenary celebrations and wished him luck with a forthcoming Disney documentary telling his unlikely story to the British dance academy, which was announced last September.
The Nigerian boy from a lowly background dubbed by newspapers as the ‘Nigerian Billy Elliot’, was offered a scholarship after a 44-second video of him pirouetting in the rain went viral in 2020, and was viewed more than 16 million times.
He told reporters after his meeting with the Queen Consort: “My dancing’s going well. It’s really, really great and I’m really enjoying it.”
Madu added that he was adapting to life and the weather in the UK and hoped his story can spur on others around the world.
“I just hope to inspire them to pursue their dreams and never give up,” he said.
Prior to the scholarship, Madu was one of a dozen students between the ages of 5 and 12 at Daniel Owoseni Ajala’s Leap Academy of Dance in Badagry.
Inspired by the movie – Save the Last Dance – Ajala, a self-taught ballet fan turned instructor, founded the Academy in late 2017 after studying dance moves from YouTube tutorials online and in books.
“I basically learned all the fundamental principles of ballet through YouTube tutorials,” Ajala said in an interview with Vogue.
However, his hopes for an international career were dashed when he applied to several schools across Eastern and Southern Europe, including one in Zagreb, Croatia and was told that as an African, he was not eligible for an international scholarship.
“It just seemed like blatant discrimination,” Ajala said. Yet he continues to teach the art to children for free.