The story of Joel Kioko is special.
The 17-year-old grew up in the rough Kuwinda area of Nairobi, Kenya but didn’t let that stop him from accomplishing something large in a rather short amount of time.
Kioko has been awarded a place at the English National Ballet School in London, even though he’s never even seen a full-length ballet on stage. Perhaps even more impressive is that he’s only been dancing for roughly three years.
“He only went along to annoy her before, effectively, gatecrashing the lessons,” Emma Flett, whose film company made a seven-minute video about Kioko when he was in the UK for his audition in April, said of Joel’s following of his cousin to ballet classes in the Kenyan capital.
A funny side-note to this story is that at first, Joel didn’t even like ballet too much. He says the dance-style was “strange” and he didn’t “fall in love” with it right away. It was later that he knew it was what he wanted to do in life.
“When we did the men’s class and I could jump and turn, I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life,” he said in a Flett Films short video. Joel feels that he has a responsibility now to represent for all the people where he’s from who have very little in the way of opportunity.
“The kids back home don’t have anything. So I’m an example to them. And, if I mess up, I think they’re going to be just done for,” he said. “That’s the pressure I feel.”
According to London’s The Times, Joel Kioko’s story is slated to screened at the ITV studios in London on Thursday in order to raise £20,000 for Kioko’s living costs.