A few months later, he became a viral internet star and received a prestigious scholarship in America.
Many were impressed by his ability to land his movements perfectly, even when dancing barefoot on concrete and in the rain. Viola Davis was moved to write: “We have created, we can fly, we can imagine, we have passion and love …. despite the cruel obstacles placed in front of us! Our people can fly !!!”
Harvey was so impressed with his talent that she recognized him and offered him a scholarship to the American Ballet Theater, where he would attend a summer school in 2021.
He told CNN he had no plans to go viral, but was happy he did.
“I was shocked because it was not on my mind that this video would go viral. The best part of being recognized was when I got the great gift of going to the US because most people didn’t have that opportunity. Thank God I did,” he said.
Leap of Dance Academy
“When I was watching the cartoon, I told my mom I wanted to ballet,” he said.
Azala founded the Dance Academy in 2017 and has been teaching ballet for free to children who have not paid for dance education ever since.
The self-taught instructor said that when he found out about Madhu’s desire to dance, he encouraged Madhu’s mother to join him.
In one of their sessions he recorded Madhu’s now viral dance video, telling CNN that he never thought it would air so fast.
“This (video) is not something we did to get out the way we did. It’s something that needs to show motion corrections … it’s bigger than what I ined, and calls are starting to come in to me. Celebrities are posting us,” he said.
Madhu said he would stick to the craft and practice the techniques he learned at the academy for five hours daily.
“When I first started I didn’t know that ballet dancing was easy, but I didn’t know it was hard. But I’m working hard … anytime he (Azala) teaches us anything, I’ll go home to practice and come back to show him,” Madhu said.
Passion for dance
Now 29 years old, he learned to do ballet dance by watching YouTube tutorials.
“I loved the movie and wanted to know how everything that was done in the movie was done. I started searching on YouTube and started getting Google PDF files to broaden my understanding of what I saw in the videos,” he explained.
Although he never really set out as a teacher, he said he fell in love with art by practicing ballet techniques on his own for many years.
The Leap of Dance Academy is home to Azala. Every day after school, his 12 students walk into his apartment, where he pushes his furniture aside and spreads a sheet on the concrete floor for dance practice.
One of his main challenges, the lack of a suitable place to practice, is to say, “Our children are sometimes trained on a bare floor suitable for dancers, but we are not moving so that we do not have to cry about things,” he said.
But despite the challenges, many of his students like Madhu were able to excel in ballet.
‘Ballet is meant for girls’
When he first set out to teach ballet, he was trolled for it because people thought it was for girls. “There is an opinion that this is not African dance. Being a male dancer is worse, people think that ballet is not for boys,” he said.
However, over the past decades, more and more women have joined and dominated the industry, raising the belief that the ballet is unique to women.
Madhu also had to fight with similar stereotypes. He said that many people still feel that he should not dance.
“When people see me they say ballet is for girls, sometimes it discourages me, but I keep working hard,” he says.
“I want to be different,” he added. “To be a ballet dancer I would not be on par with others who want to be doctors, lawyers or bankers.”
Wine wants to help change the perception that ballet is not thriving in places like Nigeria.
“I hope to be a professional ballet dancer and I want people to know that ballet can scatter here in Nigeria.”