Anthony Madu: Where is the Nigerian Ballet Dancer Now?

As a documentary film living up to its title in every way conceivable, Disney+’s ‘Madu’ can honestly only be described as equal parts artistic, entertaining, hopeful, inspiring, and poignant. That’s because it delves deep into the tale of Anthony Madu as a video of him dancing goes viral and takes him from his hometown in Nigeria to the most prestigious ballet school in the world. So now, if you simply wish to learn more about him — with a particular focus on his background, his experiences, his passion, as well as his current standing — we’ve got the details for you.

Who is Anthony Madu?

It was back in June 2020 when 11-year-old Anthony went viral after his Lagos Leap Dance Academy teacher posted a video of him practicing pirouettes barefoot in the rain on a local street. Though this dedication of the tween wasn’t new since he’d fallen in love with the art form back when he was a mere toddler and was almost always moving around in the most graceful manner. The truth is he actually grew up in a community wherein there was no chance for him to attain formal training, so he taught himself every move that fascinated him by watching videos online.

That’s how Anthony’s mother Ifeoma Madu learned of his hobby while he was 5, driving her to convince the family to relocate to a different neighborhood so he could enroll at a dance academy. She did have her fair share of doubts at first considering her son had already started expressing his affection for ballet in particular, yet she let him go for it upon realizing he truly treasured it. There’s also sadly a social stigma associated with this style, but the youngster has long managed to withstand any bullying that comes his way because he’s confident in who he is and his people.

Coming back to the viral clip, according to Anthony himself, he wasn’t meant “to go for class that day. I was just doing the dance and… teacher decided to film it. When I came for a practice the next day, he told me it’s got over thousands of views.” This number gradually went up to more than 16 million, resulting in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre in Manhattan, New York, actually offering him a scholarship. However, owing to COVID-19 restrictions, his training from educators here was only online, that is, until the renowned Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham, England, came into the picture with a better (in-person) proposal.

“When I got the scholarship, I was surprised but really happy,” Anthony once said. He hence packed his bags, left his family behind, and moved halfway across the world to pursue his dreams. He then expressed, “For the first year, it felt really, really hard trying to adjust to like the weather compared to Nigeria and also missing home as well,” all the while also wondering if he was fitting in. However, slowly yet surely, he managed to settle down with a structure, including daily phone calls with his mother, hanging out with friends, plus remembering his motivation to make loved ones proud.

Yet, there was one other significant issue Lagos native Anthony faced not long after his classes in the UK began — difficulty seeing out of his left eye, affecting his coordination as well as skill. He was hence referred to the NHS, following which doctors quickly ascertained he had an eye infection that’d probably taken root at birth itself, and there was sadly no way to completely treat it. “There wasn’t really that much to do about it because you didn’t get a really good treatment for that sort of thing…,” he told the Boston Herald during an interview. “There’s nothing they could do about it.”

Anthony Madu Remains Enrolled at Elmhurt

Thankfully, Anthony was allowed to continue classes despite his eye issue following his first year, with his teachers stating, “We can see.. you love to dance. This is what you were born to do.” It thus comes as no surprise this teen is still a proud student at Elmhurst Ballet boarding school, where he is unequivocally giving it his all so as to be the best possible performer he can be. As per his own account, he doesn’t really have an ultimate 10-year plan as of now since he wants to fully enjoy his present youth years, but he is determined to grow in dance and in life as a whole through good experiences.

Read More: Dance Life: Where Are They Now?