Ballet dancer

Viola Davis tweets about an 11-year-old Nigerian ballet dancer

Barefoot and gracefully dancing a ballet on a soggy street in Lagos, Nigeria, 11 Anthony Madu shows how passion and doing what you love the most, no matter what, can be the first step to making your dreams come true.

Madu went viral after her dance teacher at Leap of Dance Academy shared the impressive video of her pirouette technique on social media. “Behind these beauties and whimsical costumes in the classroom is lots and lots of hard work behind the scenes,” the caption read. “With very little or no resources, our children are training to perform at their best.”

In June, the actress Viola Davis took to Twitter to repost Madu’s video with the caption, “Reminds me of the beauty of my people. We create, soar, can imagine, have unleashed passion, and love…despite the brutal obstacles that have stood before us! Our people can fly! At the time of this writing, the message that helped boost the notoriety of this young ballet promise has been seen by more than 370,000 people, including a Tony Award winner and a Grammy Award winner. Cynthia Erivowho put him in touch with the theater company and thanks to their help and his incredible ballet skills, he was able to obtain a scholarship at the American Ballet Theater –a prestigious company based in New York.

“They are in Nigeria. I also happen to be Nigerian. And I was like, this felt like a kismet moment,” the English actress, singer and songwriter told NBC News. “I think that’s extremely important because I think boys are not encouraged to do this incredibly tough job that actually encourages strength, endurance and beauty,” Erivo said.

Madu understands how this opportunity could change his life forever, but for him, dancing ballet in any part of the world fills him with joy. “It makes me strong and happy when I dance,” he said. “I see my future like this, I will be a professional dancer when I grow up,” he added. In an interview with Reuters, he went on to share the importance and impact of ballet in his life. “Ballet is my life. When I dance, I feel like I’m on top of the world,” he told Reuters. “Every time my mom sends me on an errand, I dance ballet before going to this place and that makes me very, very happy. I love ballet so much.

The dancer also shared the experience of meeting American Ballet Theater acclaimed soloist Calvin Royal III with his Leap of Dance classmates. Through a videoconference, Royal encouraged children to keep dancing because they are changing the industry and the world. “You’re not just changing your world there in Africa, but you’re changing the hearts and minds of so many people,” Royal said, as reported by NBC News.

Currently, Madu is training online due to the coronavirus pandemic and according to the Daily Mail, he is expected to travel to the United States to continue his training in 2021.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in touch with your culture. Get the latest news on your favorite celebrities, royals and the best beauty, fashion and lifestyle news straight to your inbox!