Over time, Nigerians have come to believe and accept the fact that only by studying and being exceptional in “professional” fields -which exist in the corporate world- can a person become successful and relevant as well as occasionally wealthy.
“As a lawyer and a dancer, choosing one career path can be a struggle. The stakes are high as both journeys are equally demanding. Armed with no manuals, few tutors, and a busload of critics, I embarked on a journey to live with the constant duality; to be complete”.
Born and raised in Delta state, Nigeria, Emmanuel grew up in a family that revered academic accomplishments above all else despite his natural passion to dance. In Nigeria, dancing is almost always left to the women. This made it impossible for Emmanuel to harbor at such a time because expectations were already carved out for him on what a successful and refined gentleman should look like.
Emmanuel chose to become a lawyer and gained admission into the prestigious Benson Idahosa University, in the ancient city of Benin, Edo state, Nigeria at the young age of 14.
At 16, then in his third year at the university, he walked into a dance studio while accompanying a friend to get dance costumes and stumbled upon a dance rehearsal that changed his life forever. He walked into the studio as a law student and came out an artist.
Emmanuel began to take dancing classes at 7 and 9 years old’s at the Marie Performing Arts Academy in Benin City. Not only he was taught by these kids on some training days, he never missed a day of rehearsals for his 3 years of training at the academy.
Over the years, he has creatively managed dance and law, two mutually exclusive fields, and attained levels of professionalism with both. With a Law degree as his foundation, and he holds several professional certifications including Project Management from the British Management Academy and the Rahn Wesley Institute of Management UK, Human Resource Management, and Customer Relations from Sansvid International, he is an Associate Member of the Institute of Charted Mediators and Conciliators ICMC.
As a performer, Emmanuel has performed on various national stages, music videos, and Tv shows including but not limited to the African Movies Viewer’s Choice Awards AMVCA, Nigerian Idols, Heineken Champions League Cup Tour, Big Brother Naija Opening Night Ceremony, World of Dance West Africa and the Gods Children Great Talent Competition, where he placed 1st position as a dancer and 4th position Nationwide. He looks up to Calvin Royal III and Misty Copeland of the American Ballet Theatre, Desmond Richardson of Complexions Ballet, and Paige Fraser of Alvin Ailey for inspiration.
“Emmanuel expresses dance in different genres of music. He has made dance more universal and has made ballet accepted in the Nigerian music space. He brings perfection and artistry. He is very gracious and exudes so much grace in whatever stage he finds himself in”
Omawumi, Nigerian singer-songwriter, Actress
Emmanuel has been devoted to bringing dance to underserved Kids and youths across Africa, not just as a tool of expression but also a medium of emancipation from age-long constructs that limits the African child from exploring their artistic talents and dreams. To this end, he is currently serving as an International Trainer with Mindleaps, a non for profit- organization currently operational in six countries with headquarters in New York City.
With a background in education and child development, Emmanuel travelled to Rwanda with Mindleaps and worked with out-of-school youth to build their skills and increase their chance as they start their journey back into formal education. Working with Rwandans and Americans, Emmanuel trained 40 Guinean youth, to join the Mindleaps staff in West Africa.
“Emmanuel expresses dance in different genres of music. He has made dance more universal, and has made ballet accepted in the Nigerian music space. He brings perfection and artistry. He is very gracious and exudes so much grace in whatever stage he find himself in”
Omawumi, Nigerian singer-songwriter, Actress
He is the first and only African and Nigerian Ambassador for the Ballet wear brand, Ballet Rosa.
Emmanuel has been devoted to bringing dance to underserved Kids and youths across Africa, not just as a tool of expression but also a medium of emancipation from age-long constructs that limits the African child from exploring their artistic talents and dreams. To this end he is an international trainer with MindLeaps, an organization committed to bringing education to under-served kids through the creative arts. He has trained kids and teenagers in Rwanda, Guinea and also in Nigeria.
“As the Executive Director of Mindleaps, I’ve been thrilled to work with Emmanuel on three different occasions each of which has revealed both the level of artistry and the character of Emmanuel…he proved himself to be a competent dancer and a motivated learner”.
Rebecca Davis, Executive Director of Mindleaps
Constantly finding himself serving as a Lawyer, Dancer, and Teacher, Emmanuel believes both academics and performing arts skills can co-exist in the educational upbringing of children and young adults. With Slum to Stage, he intends to keep pace with the rapidly changing world, to close the gap between arts and academic education in class, as he campaigns for schools to include a program for creativity and self-esteem skills that dancing provides into their curriculum.
Overcoming the stereotype of male dancers in Nigeria and starting out with discouraging nods from elders, Emmanuel has gone on to fly where his aspirations foresaw and beyond. Facing the changes in his life, by allowing himself to change through them, he is set to challenge the status quo placed by family and societal opinions and educate the average Nigerian Child that anyone can look different, start late, with numerous odds against them, and still reach for the stars.