An 11-year-old Nigerian boy went viral this summer when millions of people watched a video of him dancing ballet barefoot in the rain — and now the talented youngster has secured a scholarship to New York’s prestigious American Ballet Theatre.
Anthony Mmesoma Madu from Lagos captivated social media users — including celebrities like Viola Davis and Cynthia Erivo — with his dedication to the dance, and his ability to pull off stunning moves in the rain without any shoes on.
Now, thanks to the international attention the video has received, the pre-teen will train ABT online this summer as he prepares to travel to the US for more training in 2021.
Mastering ballet is difficult even in a proper environment with the right footwear, but Anthony showed in the viral video that he can pull off a beautiful pirouette anywhere, at any time.
In the clip, he is seen outside his dance studio, Leap of Dance Academy, practising on muddy pavement that is wet from the rain. He’s barefoot, in shorts and a tank top, but dances masterfully, spinning, leaping, and doing arabesques.
‘Ballet is my life. When I am dancing, I feel as if I am on top of the world,’ he told Reuters.
‘Any time my mom sends me on an errand, I dance ballet before I go to that place and it makes me feel very, very happy. I so much love ballet.’
Social media users were impressed, with Cynthia Erivo singing his praises.
‘They’re in Nigeria. I happen to be Nigerian as well. And I was like, this felt like a kismet moment,’ the actress, who reached out and connected with him, told NBC News. ‘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.’