14 March 2023

Camilla meets young ballet dancer set to star in Disney documentary

14 March 2023

The Queen Consort has wished “good luck” to a young dancer whose dreams of becoming a ballet star went viral and will now be made into a Disney documentary.

Camilla met Anthony Madu when she visited the ballet school which offered him a scholarship after a 44-second video posted online in 2020 of him pirouetting in the rain was watched more than 16 million times.

The 13-year-old, from Nigeria, is now in his second year at Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham, which is celebrating its centenary and has the Queen Consort as its patron.

Camilla visited the school to mark the milestone and meet the schoolboy, who has grown a few inches and now has more of an English accent since his story won the hearts of social media users.

When she asked Anthony if he had always loved dancing, he replied “Yes, since I was five years old.

Camilla replied: “It gets to grips with you, you can’t let it go – good luck.”

Disney announced in September that it would be making a documentary about the youngster, whose family live on the edge of Nigerian capital Lagos. He had little formal training before arriving in the UK but showed great talent.

Speaking after Camilla’s visit, Anthony said of Elmhurst: “My dancing’s going well, it’s really, really great, and I’m really enjoying it.”

He said he is adapting to life in the UK but is struggling a little with the weather.

“It’s still quite cold,” he said.

Talking about his journey, he added: “I just hope that younger dancers from anywhere around the world… I just hope to inspire them to pursue their dreams and never give up.”

Carlos Acosta, artistic director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, joined Camilla for the visit and later described how the schoolboy’s journey mirrored his own from Cuba to Europe to study dance.

Acosta, who is the vice-president of the ballet school and for 17 years was principal guest dancer with the Royal Ballet, said: “The opportunities facing Anthony are exactly what I faced when I first arrived in Italy at the age of 16 and then after in London at the age of 18.

“It’s a whole adaptation process that could be very choking at times, but he’s been very well nurtured here and is being well cared for by teachers who understand how very hard it is for him, but I think eventually it will make him stronger in every way.”

During the visit the Queen Consort saw a series of performances by pupils from all year groups at the ballet school which caters for boarding and day students.

In an impromptu speech, she praised the ability of dancers after told how she has joined Silver Swans, classes for elderly ballet dancers run by the Royal Academy of Dance.

She said: “Every time I come here, I never cease to be impressed by the students; it’s the discipline, it’s the manners and the pleasure that you all give everything.

“Speaking from an ancient Silver Swan, who took up ballet very, very late in life, I just had no idea quite how difficult it was.

“So when I go and see a performance now, I just sit and study all the movements and think ‘I don’t know how anybody does it’.”

Later, Camilla visited Telford where she toured Southwater One Library to thank staff and local outreach and voluntary groups for their contribution to the community.

When the Queen Consort was introduced to staff from Maninplace, which provides support for the homeless in the Shropshire borough of Telford and Wrekin, she could be heard remarking how their work was “so important”.

The charity’s chief executive, Alan Olver, said he had given her a brief outline of what they do, and added: “It is good to be able to raise the profile of what we do.”

He added: “I don’t think the understanding of what homelessness is about is clear in people’s minds. People have stereotypes, when they are human beings at the end of the day who have found themselves in the situation they are in.”

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