The Teenage Girls Building Their Own Ballet School in a Rio Favela

The crowdfunder set up after the release of the VICE documentary 'Ballet & Bullets: Dancing Out of the Favela' has raised enough money for the Na Ponta dos Pés school to build its own community centre.

In the documentary Ballet & Bullets: Dancing Out of the Favela, released last year by VICE, Brazilian dancer Tuany Nascimento tells the story of Na Ponta dos Pés – a ballet school she founded in the Complexo do Alemão, one of the largest favelas in Rio de Janeiro.

When the documentary came out in October, we launched a crowdfunding campaign to help Tuany build a community centre in her neighbourhood. It reached the goal of £5,000 in just a week, with messages of support pouring in from across the globe. The money raised has nearly doubled from our target since then.


Construction on the community centre began at the end of February and is finally taking shape. This couldn't have happened at a more important time, as right-wing authorities have been sanctioning brutal police violence across Rio, and this building will act as a sanctuary for Tuany and her students.


Tuany Nascimento and one of her students outside their work-in-progress community centre.

"At this moment for Brazil, building our space is more than the realisation of a dream – it’s a powerful cry of resistance," said Tuany, who's been documenting the progress on Instagram, posting videos of her students carting breeze blocks and bags of cement through the narrow streets of the favela. To make their mark on the building, the girls have painted their names on some of those blocks and placed letters about their aspirations inside gaps in the wall.

"This is a place for protagonism and strength," Tuany continued. "The Na Ponta dos Pés cultural centre is about more than just dance – it proves that we can do anything."

Ballet and Bullets: Dancing Out of the Favela was produced with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

@frederickbernas / @sebagilmiranda

See more photos of the project below: