Emmanuel Osahor is mobilizing and leveraging voices of talents in the Nigerian Ballet space to tell tales of freedom, hope and destiny.

An Article By Ogbu Paul

It is from different walks of life that this path chose us from. These bodies which were once ours alone, stiff and sturdy for the orthodox has become living slates to tell phenomenal stories.

With all the odds stacked against us, we share similar stories of an almost defeated start.

This society in the past classified dancers as overlooked, let alone dancers who have chosen to embody the art form of ballet dancing. It is as if the moment we chose this art form, we found ourselves on the crossroad of choosing one thing over the other, to keep family and leave dance, or to chase purpose and self-fufilment in mastery of this art form, rather than taking the rife path of seeking financial freedom in a struggling geographic.

Walking out of a dance studio after accompanying a friend in my university days, would not have been enough reason to have me follow up with registration for ballet classes with children as at that time, now I understand that destiny made that path for me!

At 16, after accompanying a friend to a dance studio in his university days at Benson Idahosa University, Emmanuel Osahor found himself chasing a new life at the Marie Performing Arts Academy. Falilat Shittu went against the tide of discouragement, fear of failure and acceptance at 24, she started training into professionalism. Some of us started on the wrong foots, without pointe shoes and a good dance studio to vent frantic emotions when we needed to. At last we walked on the right foot.

Standing here today, with Resilience in the face of adversity and Unwavering consistency, it is because of the love and support from some good hands, we did not walk this length by our means only, that is why as better people today we have come to tell tales of hope, freedom and destiny. We are better people that can help people grow, and outside of this tough soil, it did not come easy, it came because we chose to dance against all the odds.

Meet Our Dancers


Ballet means a lot to me, it’s a beautiful dance that has built a certain culture and lifestyle discipline, strength, elegance, ability to tell any kind of story with grace embedded in it. Ballet is a culture not just a dance. It’s what defines the way I carry myself and I am grateful to be identified with it. I trained professionally in ballet when I was 24.

When I took my dance career seriously, my family didn’t think it was going to be of any good. I do love being a dancer, dance instructor and I don’t regret it. I love how graceful and strong ballet can make you. I see ballet as one of the most beautiful dances ever created.

Ballet isn’t well embraced in Nigeria, I want to be part of those who accept it and reach out to more people through stories told in dance. Afro and other styles are beautiful in themselves but grace, beauty and the uniqueness of ballet in Nigeria made me choose it.

The people I look up to in dance are:

Misty Copeland (great motivation, that even if you started late in life you can still stand out and be at your best)

Kathryn Morgan (an awesome ballet teacher who simplifies her lessons to get dancers to be at their best such a great inspiration)

The society is yet to embrace ballet dance and so they give it little regard when it comes to classifying respectable professions. The challenges of Ballet dancers in Nigeria are numerous; there are very few places for ballet lessons, and there are also nonexistent standards operating guides to access the growth of dancers, nonexistent places for pointe shoe fitters. There is Lack of ability to afford to study from a professional dancer, or dance institution, lack of acceptance from family and friends,

I wished I started earlier than I did, I just didn’t have the courage to go against all odds.

My advice would be to start now, never be affected by what society throws at you. Gain the discipline you need to be at your best and believe in yourself, no one knows you better than you do, keep striving and know that there is enough sky for stars to exist.


Ballet means a lot to me, it’s an escape for me when I’m sad, depressed or lonely, it comforts me deeply and helps me express my emotions without feeling judged. I’ve been dancing all my life but I started dancing professionally in 2011.

I would say I am blessed to have been born into a family that loves entertainment, my parents were supportive when it comes to dance and even taking it as a profession.

I chose this path because ballet is a unique dance style and it makes me stand out.

The lock down period in Nigeria wasn’t easy, I couldn’t go out to dance. My house has a small space, it limited my movements and expressions. I had to carry some of my interiors outside so I could create space to dance. I later figured I could dance outside my compound, but the floor wasn’t good enough, I managed stretching and dancing almost every day.

The challenges we usually face as modern dancers, is having a wrong stage to perform on. After preparing a proper performance, when you get on stage on the main day you’ll may disappointed with either small space or non-favourable floor. Although with all these struggles, we still perform.

I would advise an aspiring dancer to be strong and courageous. Be deeply connected with your craft and be passionate about it. CONSISTENCY IS KEY!

Victor Zale

I started dancing in 2013.

As a male dancer, one major challenge I face on a daily basis, is parents preferring a female teacher for their children, in place of a male.

In Nigeria, it is difficult to find the right resources and centres to practice.

Due to these challenges, I transitioned my energy to yoga just to stay motivated and fit. People I look up to in the ballet community are; Seirgen Polinen, Shale Wagman, Peter Obond James, and Ayo Tsalu, for motivation and strength.


Ballet is literally my life. I started dancing when I was 10 years old, but started professional training in 2017.

My family is my groupè, I don’t have many friends outside dance and my peers understand my passion. Regardless of this support, I still get teased.

Ballet chose me. It has continued to choose me over and over again.

During the pandemic, my business network went down drastically. However Ballet has a beautiful community built on the social media which was very active during the lockdown/COVID period that kept me motivated.

In dance, I look up to Alessandra Ferri , I call her my ballet Mom. Even at her age, she’s fire on stage. Another is Skylar Brandt. She is always giving out new dance challenge and online classes. She is humble to a fault, and replies any questions you have, which is not so common amongst many Principal ballet dancers.

One major challenge ballet dancers face in Nigeria is non availability of accommodating platforms to perform. Ballet dancers are side-lined during dance competitions.

I would advise any aspiring dancer to, take their time. Make research. DO NOT rush enpointé just because it looks pretty. Ballet has a lot of work and a life time of training process! Enjoy it and be thankful for the opportunity to be part of a community.

Anthonia Egwoyi

Ballet is more than just dancing to me. It’s more of a place. A place where I find peace, happiness and where I can be myself and express myself without words.

I started dancing from my local church. But I started ballet training professionally in 2019. When I shared the news of training at a ballet academy, my family was happy since they knew how much I loved dancing but they had a problem with the distance between the dance academy and my house, they were worried about my safety. When I started dancing, i was already in school, so sometimes when I had an evening ballet class, I would tell my family i had evening classes but I never told them the kind of class.

But now, they are very supportive and I don’t have to lie about my classes.

My friends were very supportive from the beginning . They were proud to be friends with a ballerina and that made me feel really special.

I didn’t choose this path, it chose me. I love and enjoy the other dance styles but the feeling I get from dancing ballet is something words cannot describe.

Covid really affected the entertainment industry. Many productions were stopped, movie theatres were shut down, dance studios closed.

The virus took a huge toll on me. I had to stop going to the dance studio to train and even though I had online classes, it still wasn’t easy. Later on the studio was shut down and I had to start training on my own, it was hard since there was nobody to motivate me.

I didn’t come this far to give up. The two people I look up to in ballet dance are Ijeme and Sharon Chance.

We don’t have a lot of professional ballet teachers in Nigeria. I couldn’t access one myself until I was given a scholarship at the BAP where I started my ballet journey.

One mistake I’ve made so far would be inconsistency.

If you’re an aspiring dancer or ballerina, I want to let you know that you can be anything you want to be. Don’t give up.

Peter Micheal

Ballet wasn’t the foundation of my dance. I could remember how I had issues agreeing to learn it at a dance camp. But through my Journey, I decide to try it, and I saw a dimension of dance I’ve never seen before, the Calmness, patience, endurance, Motivation, teamwork of ballet made me love it and train in the art form.

For me, ballet is one dance style whose enormous elements, rippled not just in dance alone but also in Life.

I started training professionally 7 years ago. I attended workshops, devoted time to research, teaching, and paying for classes.

Initially, I’ve always looked at ballet as a dance I wouldn’t want to train in. Eventually, when i started it, I was criticised by friends. When it comes to ballet and a male dancer in Nigeria, the major stereotypes are the conceptions that ballet is not a “male kinda dance”, “most male ballet dancers are gay”, “It will change your shape”, “a man shouldn’t do splits”.

Ballet is so expressive and allows me to paint images, forms and ideas that I have running through my head and I have a lot of people inspiring me daily, dancers like ; Qudus Onikeku, Charles artistry, Emmanuel Enojo Francis, Isaac Jiga, Joshua Akubo, Philip Chbeeb, Emmanuel Osahor, and Jemima Angulu.

These persons have made an impact in my life as a dancer and I cannot look away from that fact.

Major challenges modern dancers face in Nigeria are, Stigma, Unavailability of ballet Community, and Lack of well-trained ballet instructors. Regardless of these challenges, my advice to dancers would be: stick with it , if it makes you happy. DO IT REGARDLESS.