Brazil is going through a very complex time because of a great crisis at the institutional, political, social and economic levels. This context has increased violence, drug trafficking, and battles between narco groups to take power. This is the case of the Morro do Adeus, a favela located in Complexo do Alemão, in which the Comando Vermelho (VC) is at war against the Third Commando Pure (TCP).
On a hilltop overlooking the favela, a group of girls fill an old basketball court where they practice ballet because there is no other place for them to go. A social project called Na Ponta dos Pés (On Tiptoes) was born here. It is coordinated by a local brilliant woman named Tuany Nascimento, a ballet dancer who started a dance company for young girls in the middle of one of Rio De Janeiro’s most dangerous favelas. Despite the lack of resources, she keeps supporting these girls providing for a safe space away from the violent world around them and gives girls hope for a better future. In fact, these girls have to fight against the stigma of being black, women and poor, in a racist, sexist and classist society where gender violence is very common. Brazil has the fifth highest rate of femicides in the world. Afro-descendants represent more than half of the population. Mortality rate is persistently higher among them; income is the lowest and they are the most affected by the plague of unemployment.
Morro do Adeus has changed command 6 times in the last 5 years. With each change the new faction expels from the community all families who have a relative linked to the enemy. At least a hundred families have been evicted in Morro do Adeus over the last ten years.
Thanks to the continuous work of Tuany and her students, crowdfunding campaigns that were carried out, and media coverage, the project has grown: now the girls can dance in a new headquarters that was built using bulletproof material. It includes a professional ballet area as well as an open space for the entire community which can be used for social activities and to respond to the many needs of the inhabitants of this neighbourhood, while also raising awareness on environmental care.
Without even realizing it, Tuany is shaping the future of these dancers, one girl at a time.
Photo copyright: © Sebastian Gil Miranda for Na Ponta dos Pés.