The Queen Consort has wished ‘good luck’ to a young ballerina whose dreams of becoming a ballet star have gone viral and will now be made into a Disney documentary.
Camilla met Anthony Madu when he visited the dance school who offered him a scholarship after a 44-second video posted online in 2020 of him twirling in the rain was viewed more than 16 million times.
The 13-year-old Nigerian 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 pupil, who has grown a few inches and now has more of a British accent since his story has won the hearts of social media users.
When she asked Anthony if he’d always loved to dance, he replied, “Yes, since I was five.
Camilla replied: ‘It catches you in the throes, you can’t let it go — good luck.’
Disney announced in September that it would make a documentary about the young man, whose family lives on the edge of the Nigerian capital Lagos. He had little formal training before coming to the UK but showed great talent.
Speaking after Camilla’s visit, Anthony said of Elmhurst: ‘My dancing is going well, it’s really, really great, and I’m really enjoying it.’
She said she is adjusting to life in the UK but is struggling a bit with the weather.
“It’s still quite cold,” he said.
Speaking of her journey, she added, “I just hope younger dancers from anywhere in the world… I just hope I inspire them to pursue their dreams and never give up.”
Carlos Acosta, artistic director of the 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 ballet school’s vice president and was a guest principal dancer with the Royal Ballet for 17 years, said: “The opportunities Anthony faces are exactly what I faced when I first arrived in Italy at the ‘age 16 and then later to London at age 18.
“It’s a whole process of adjusting which could be very overwhelming at times, but here he’s been brought up very well and is well looked after by teachers who understand how hard this is for him, but I think it will ultimately make him stronger in every way.”
During the visit the Queen Consort attended a number of performances by year-round group pupils at the dance school which caters for boarding and day students.
In an impromptu speech, she praised the dancers’ ability after recounting joining the Silver Swans, a course for senior dancers run by the Royal Academy of Dance.
She said, “Every time I come here, I never stop being impressed by the students; it’s the discipline, it’s the good manners and the pleasure you give to all of you.
“Speaking from an ancient Silver Swan, who started dancing very, very late in life, I had no idea how difficult it was.
“So when I go to a show now, I sit and study all the moves and think ‘I don’t know how anyone does it.'”
Next, Camilla visited Telford where she visited Southwater One Library to thank the local staff, voluntary and outreach groups for their contribution to the community.
When the Queen Consort was introduced to staff at Maninplace, which provides support to the homeless in Shropshire’s Telford and Wrekin district, they were overheard stressing how ‘so important’ their work was.
The charity’s chief executive, Alan Olver, said he gave her a brief description of what they do and added: “It’s great to be able to raise the profile of what we do.”
He added: “I don’t think the understanding of what homelessness is is clear in people’s minds. People have stereotypes, when they’re human beings at the end of the day who’ve found themselves in the situation they’re in.”