Weʼre raising £5,000 to help build a safe community space in the Morro do Adeus favela, Rio de Janeiro
- Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Millions of children across the globe dream about dancing – whether it’s hip-hop, salsa, swing, bachata or ballet. Some get the opportunity to learn, others don’t – perhaps due to time, money, problematic parents, cultural taboos, access to schools, or dozens of other reasons which lie well within the realm of feasibility.
The risk of being caught in a crossfire should not be on that list – but it’s a very real danger for Tuany Nascimento and students of her Na Ponta dos Pés (“On Tiptoe”) project in the Complexo do Alemão, a sprawling cluster of favelas in the north zone of Rio de Janeiro.
Last year, our documentary crew tasted that bitter reality while filming at an outdoor sports court in the Morro do Adeus neighbourhood, where the girls live. As Tuany put her pupils through their paces, stretching limbs and rehearsing routines – like any other ballet class, anywhere in the world – a flurry of gunshots ripped through the air.
Morro do Adeus is at the heart of a perpetual conflict between rival drug trafficking gangs, which control different sections of Alemão – a vast network of communities with a population that may be as large as 120,000. Frequent police raids only escalate the tension.
The scary situation that we captured on camera was a tiny glimpse of what these brave girls live through every day. Many have lost friends or loved ones; some nights, firefights rage for hours on end. Their tears of fear will not be quickly forgotten – along with a queasy sense of confusion as we left the favela, driving back to safety in stunned silence.
With presidential elections on October 28, the likelihood of a more aggressive public security policy in Rio under the government of far-right frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro – a former army captain who wants “every citizen to have a gun at home” – heightens the need for Tuany’s ballerinas to find a safe space, away from the outdoor sports court where they currently train.
The good news is that they are not far from achieving their goal: A plot of land has been secured, and foundations laid down. Locals have promised to chip in with labour and some building materials, but one final push is needed.
We hope the film will generate a fresh impulse for the Na Ponta dos Pés community centre to finally become reality. Thank you for your support!
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- 5 months ago
Frederick Bernas5 months ago
Construction of the new community space is in full swing! Tuany and her students helped carry materials to the building site, before painting their names on the bricks and placing letters about their aspirations inside gaps in the wall. “This is a place for protagonism and strength,” says Tuany. “The Na Ponta dos Pés cultural centre is about more than just dance – it proves that we can do anything.” More photos here: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/kzm3de/the-teenage-girls-building-their-own-ballet-school-in-a-rio-favela
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- 10 months ago
Frederick Bernas10 months ago
To everyone who has supported this project – I'd like to express heartfelt thanks on behalf of the "Ballet and Bullets" team. We certainly didn't expect to reach the initial goal so quickly, and it's incredible to have exceeded it by such a wide margin. Tuany has written a personal message which was too long to fit in the character limit – see below. Happy Holidays!
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Frederick Bernas started crowdfunding
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Oct 4, 2019
On behalf of LCC day school and period 5!
Sep 29, 2019
Sep 5, 2019
Thank you for bringing this beautiful cause to light!
Jul 29, 2019
Jun 23, 2019
May 27, 2019
May 19, 2019
Was so touched this story. Inspired by by these women dreaming big dreams in spite of their environment.I pray and hope things can begin to change with initiatives such as these.God bless,Zee
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About the fundraiser
Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Audiovisual storyteller working on the intersection of journalism, documentary, music and cinema. Co-director of "Ballet & Bullets – Dancing Out Of The Favela" with Rayan Hindi. Twitter/Instagram: @frederickbernas // www.frederickbernas.com