Headline, August 23 2020/ ''' STUDENTS ''NIGERIAN'' SCHOOLS '''



IN JUNE - A MINUTE-LONG VIDEO FEATURING - a young ballet student dancing in the rain began circulating on the Internet. As the rain falls, forming puddles between the uneven slabs of concrete on which he dances, Anthony Mmesoma Madu, 11, turns pirouette after pirouette.

Though the conditions for such dancing are all wrong - dangerous, even - he twirls on, flying barefoot into an arabesque and landing it. He indulges the camera with a smile, but only for a moment, before assuming a look of fierce determination, lifting his eyes towards the sky, his little arms and graceful fingers following closely along.

The wide reach of the video, which has been seen more than 20 million times on social media platforms, has turned a spotlight on the unlikely story of a ballet school in a major suburb of Lagos Nigeria : the Leap of Dance Academy.

Founded in 2017, the academy has transformed the lives of its students, allowing them a place to dance and to dream. And in the last few months, it has inspired influential people in ballet to lend a hand. Seemingly overnight, a world of opportunity has opened up :

For the students, scholarships and invitations to attend prestigious schools and companies overseas; for the school, sizable donations, which will allow for building a proper space, outfitted with a real dance floor.

For now, the Leap of Dance Academy is housed in the home of the founder, Daniel Owoseni Ajala, in Ajanghadl, Ojo, on the western outskirts of Lagos.

Every day after school, Mr. Ajala's 12 students walk to his apartment, where he pushes aside his furniture and spreads a thin vinyl sheet over the cement floor for class, throwing open the doors  and windows to let in the light.

Against swaths of candy-colored chiffon intended to make the humble setting a little more festive, the students move through their lessons in small groups, leaning against a short, stationery ballet before and craning their necks to watch Mr. Ajala, or an overseas instructor on Zoom, give instructions.

Much of this is filmed and posted to the school's Instagram feed, where the students' joy is evident in each video, their movements precise and praiseworthy - as the comments, hearts and trembling star emojis left by their fans attest.

In the early days of Leap of Dance, many Ajangbadi families were suspicious of ballet. The strict, regimented movements were very different from the more fluid African dances, as were the skimpy costumes and painful-looking shoes, which, they soon learned, could leave feet cracked, calloused and bruised.

''In the beginning people kept saying, ''What are they doing?  Mr. Ajala said. ''I had to convince them that ballet wasn't a bad or indecent dance, but actually something that requires a lot of discipline that would have positive effects on the lives of their children outside the classroom. I always say : ''It's not only about the dance itself. It's about the value of dance education.''

When Mr. Ajala, 29, founded Leap of Dance three years ago, he was a self-taught recreational dancer with a dream : to open a ballet school for students who were serious about learning the art form and possibly pursuing it professionally one day.

''I wanted, more than anything, to give the opportunity to those younger than myself so they wouldn't miss their chance like I did,'' he said in a recent Zoom call. ''It was too bad that I was as old as I was when I realized I wanted to dance.''

As a child, Mr. Ajala became obsessed with ballet after watching ''Save the Last Dance,'' the 2001 movie about a lapsed ballet dancer Julia Stiles [who moves to the South Side of Chicago after her dies; she falls in love with a classmate 'Sean Patrick Thomas] who shares her passion for dance and helps nurse her dormant dream of becoming a ballerina back to life.

''It's been every teacher's dream,'' he said, to be noticed and seen. ''What has happened around the world with the coronavirus has been devastating. But in some ways, it has been a blessing for us because it has brought online learning to the forefront and made it possible to have all these incredible opportunities.

''We have also heard from many so many people who are inspired by the students and by dance,'' he continued. ''They felt our joy and came alive. They reminded us that art is here to stay.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Schools, Spotlights and Pirouettes, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Noor Brara.

With respectful dedication to the Grandparents, Parents, Students, Professors and Teachers of Nigeria, and then the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

''' Schools - Spotlight '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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