Stretching and Growing: School Of Dance and Social Integration Makes a Difference in the Lives of Children in Brazil
Dora Andrade has created a program (EDISCA) that combines dance training with other learning opportunities and support services for girls in economically and culturally deprived communities on the outskirts of Fortaleza, Brazil. The program is making important contributions to the girls' social development and is equipping them with the confidence that will enable them to enter adulthood with a positive outlook and develop productive lives.
For girls growing up in severely impoverished circumstances in Fortaleza and other Brazilian cities, opportunities and experiences that contribute to healthy personal development and self-esteem are in exceedingly short supply, and prospects for happy and productive lives are correspondingly dim. Dora Andrade is convinced, however, that a judicious combination of dance training and other support services can have dramatically positive effects on the development and life prospects of girls and young women in those circumstances.
A talented dancer and dance teacher, Dora knows that dance training increases girls' creativity and self-confidence. She also believes that it can strengthen social values and social skills that help girls stay in school, maintain emotional bonds with their families and resist the deceptive lures of street life, drugs and prostitution. Acting on those convictions, she has established a dance school that supplements demanding dance training with a broad array of educational and recreational activities and supporting health and counseling services.
Students participate in classical ballet classes at EDISCA. The program uses dance, art and education to harbour self-esteem and discipline in children from Fortaleza's marginal communities.
Although EDISCA started as a school for girls, founders long recognized the need for balance and recently opened the school's doors for boys. Dora's brother Gilano Andrade, also a teacher and professional dancer, is featured below.
Students give thanks in EDISCA's dining room where they receive two meals daily. Not just a dance school, EDISCA also offers courses in general education, personal health and English and provides medical, and psychological assistance to students and their family members.
The troupe's latest ballet, "Koi Guera," confronts serious issues of indigenous genocide and cultural identity in Brazil.
Photographs by Janet Jarman