To locals in Brazil’s world famous Rio de Janeiro, Complexo do Alemão is a dangerous area often associated with violent crime and drug trafficking. The system of favelas is home to over 60,000 residents.
Complexo do Alemão is also home to Na Ponta dos Pés, a non-profit organization that teaches young girls in the area ballet. Local ballerina Tuany Nascimento, 22, was inspired to start the Na Ponta dos Pés in 2013, after she noticed that some of the neighborhood’s youngest residents would show up while she was practicing in an open air gym.
“Classical ballet is one of the art forms that most transforms a person,” says Nascimento. “Once you are here, you have rules, you have discipline, you have challenges—all are things that you are going to find in your life. I will not have 49 ballerinas. If I have one, marvelous! But let’s have 49 girls who have an educated mind and are looking for a better future, where they know they have options. The majority think: I’m going to get a job near my home, then I’ll be a mother. They don’t leave the walls of the community. I want to show them that the world is large and that there’s a chance for everybody.”
Girls who attend Na Ponta dos Pés don’t have to pay for lessons, instead they just have to bring a report card to class to prove that they are attending school. The organization subsists from small grants and donations of secondhand equipment.