Nigerian Academy Looks To Spread Ballet In Lagos

A small group of Nigerian girls and boys wearing leotards and leggings limber up in a spare room at a run-down primary school with patches of damp on the walls.

They launch into pirouettes and arabesques but have to make do without music. Today, the stereo is not working, because there is no electricity.

This is Leap of Dance Academy — a ballet school in a poor district of sprawling megacity Lagos that aims to bring classical dance to underprivileged children in Africa’s most populous nation.

 

The school is the brainchild of self-taught ballet aficionado Daniel Ajala, who opened its doors in late 2017 after studying the dance moves online and in books.

Now the academy — which Ajala funds out of his own pocket — has 12 pupils aged between six and 15.

The lessons are free and shoes and kit provided to the children, most of whom had never heard of ballet before they got involved.

“Ballet is for people who have money, who are very high class, because ballet is expensive,” Ajala tells AFP.

“In this area, I know we can’t actually afford the luxury of ballet, or dance education — so I think it’s a beautiful art to introduce to our people here.”

He says locals in the neighbourhood of Ajangbadi were sceptical at first about his plan to teach ballet.

“When we started ballet here, people were like ‘what are they doing? Is it not indecent? It’s not a Christian dance!’”

 

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