Disney+’s Madu Follows Younger Ballet Dancer’s Journey From Nigeria to England


You may bear in mind Anthony Madu from a video that went viral in June 2020. Shared to thousands and thousands on Instagram and X (previously Twitter) by celebrities like Viola Davis and Cynthia Erivo, the video captured an 11-year-old Madu dancing barefoot and within the rain on a backstreet of Nigeria—and even then, the weather couldn’t dampen his lofty ballon. 

Quickly, thousands and thousands extra will get a glimpse of not simply Madu’s expertise however his story, which, at current, is unfolding at certainly one of England’s most prestigious coaching grounds for dance: Elmhurst Ballet Faculty. 

Coming to Disney+ on March 29, Madu follows the younger dancer’s journey from Lagos to Birmingham, and the highs and lows of settling into the rigorous dance lessons, lecturers, and social life at Elmhurst. We caught up with the star of the movie about shifting away from his household, his profession aspirations, and what he hopes different dancers take away from the documentary. 

Let’s return to when it began: that viral video. What impressed you to movie it?

I truly wasn’t the one who filmed it; my outdated dance trainer [Daniel Ajala] did. I wasn’t meant to be at school that day. I simply took class as a result of I used to be bored. My trainer determined to movie it, and he posted it on Instagram and increase!

And that second has catapulted you to a unique nation. What has the expertise of shifting and residing overseas been like?

Once I first moved to England, it felt superb, but additionally, on the similar time, it was a bit arduous due to the change of climate, lacking house, and the meals, and that type of factor. However I feel I’ve truly gotten used to issues right here.

Anthony Madu meets Queen Camilla in March 2023. Picture by Roy Smiljanic, courtesy Claire Lishman PR.

Are you able to discuss a little bit bit about your early ballet coaching? 

Once I began taking ballet at [Leap of Dance Academy], I used to take class on Saturdays, simply within the mornings. However as time went on, I began taking class a bit extra throughout the week and after college. And on weekends, I’d practice from 8 am to round 5 pm. It was sort of arduous as a result of it’s actually sunny in Nigeria, however I feel it was very value it.

Throughout your coaching in Nigeria and now in England, have you ever encountered damaging attitudes round being a male-identifying dancer?

I don’t cope with that at the moment as a result of we’ve received extra male ballet dancers right here than again in Nigeria, which has been actually good for me. Once I was in Nigeria, I sort of felt bullied for doing ballet. It wasn’t actually seen as one thing {that a} man ought to be doing.

For these dancers who’re coping with that very same sort of hurt and others who’re merely dreaming of pursuing careers in dance, what do you hope they take away from watching this movie?

That they need to by no means quit. They must overlook concerning the negativity, assume extra about how far they wish to go, and all the time keep in mind that it doesn’t actually matter what individuals say; it simply issues what you do and the way you do it.

Picture by Ash, courtesy Claire Lishman PR.

Are there any dancers who’ve been a supply of inspiration in your ballet journey? 

Once I was coaching in Nigeria, I regarded as much as [American Ballet Theatre’s] Calvin Royal III. It was good having somebody you possibly can look as much as and take a look at them and be like, “I wish to be like that sometime.” However at this time—and I’m not saying this as a result of he’s my present ballet trainer—I’d say [Joshua Barwick]. He’s diligent, type, and he desires to know [his students]. He talks to us. 

What’s subsequent for you? 

This can be a arduous one. The movie has introduced up numerous thought for me. I may stick with classical ballet fully, however I’m additionally involved in up to date dance. Once I got here to Elmhurst, the place we take up to date classes each week, it felt like discovering a brand new factor that you just love. And I feel that’s among the best components of life, is to comprehend issues that you just by no means actually thought would have occurred. I like up to date since you get to do extra motion than you do with ballet. You get to strive a great deal of bizarre stuff. I’m additionally involved in shifting into appearing.

It appears you’ve been bitten by the cinematic bug. How was your expertise filming? 

The digital camera crew and the inventive staff have been superb. At first, [filming] felt a bit bizarre, however then I received used to it. I lately watched the movie with the entire college, and I truly thought it was fairly good. I cried a bit at one scene—it was once I was leaving my household in Nigeria to return to the UK. It felt like the sensation of leaving my household got here again. Throughout the finish credit, there have been 5 minutes of applause. I wasn’t anticipating that many individuals to take pleasure in it as a lot as they did, which made me cry once more. It was actually thrilling.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *