‘Then Comes The Body’ follows the Nigerian Ballet Academy as it shot into the global spotlight – Colossal

by The Insights

Dance documentary

#ballet #Jacob Krupnick #Nigeria #short film #video

In June 2020, a clip of then 11-year-old Anthony Mmesoma Madu dancing in a rain-soaked yard made the rounds on the internet. The video shows the young student performing gracefully on wet concrete, presumably demonstrating what he learned from Leap of Dance Academy. Located in Ajangbadi, Ojo, a suburb of Lagos, Nigeria, the ballet school has garnered worldwide attention after this viral moment, including from prestigious organizations like the American Ballet Theater and New York City Ballet, celebrities like Viola Davis and the general public.

A new documentary called ‘Then Comes The Body’, directed by Wild Combination’s Jacob Krupnick, lifts the curtains on the genesis of the academy and follows its students, sharing their stories as individual artists and what it means to be part of it. a community with big ambitions.

Established in 2017, Leap of Dance is the brainchild of Daniel Ajala, who began running the school from his home in order to provide free education to those who might want to pursue ballet as a profession. “I wanted, more than anything, to give this opportunity to people younger than me so that they wouldn’t miss their chance like me,” Ajala said in an interview, noting that since ballet is not widely practiced in Nigeria , he learned from YouTube. “It was a shame that I was as old as I was when I realized I wanted to dance.”

Krupnick first discovered the school and Ajala when much of the world did: with this first video of Madu. “Dance and movement are central to many of my films, and I’m always on the lookout for stories and collaborators that make me curious,” says Krupnick. “I’m a white filmmaker, and a theme I’ve explored in my work is what it feels like for non-whites to step into spaces where they’ve never felt welcome.”

After connecting with Ajala and learning more about its history, Krupnick traveled to Ajangbadi, where he spent time with students in their neighborhood and learned more about their practices and dreams. This became the origin of the short film, which was created in partnership with Lagos-based producer Damilola Aleje. Showing the dancers atop yellow vans, moving through the streets and teaching each other, the documentary offers insight into the immense impact of one school. Leap of Dance, as the trailer shares, has already helped secure scholarships and performance opportunities for many involved, including Precious Duru and Olamide Olawale who, along with Ajala, narrate the film.

Showing in June at the Tribeca Film Festival, “Then Comes The Body” is an encouraging look at the power of expression and community and affirms that, as Ajala says, “Ballet is here to stay.” (via Kottke)

a long shot of a hallway with a dancer in a distant doorway

a dancer performing outside a house with laundry strung on the rope

Dancers performing in a group outdoors

#ballet #Jacob Krupnick #Nigeria #short film #video

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