Tuany Nascimento, 22, hosts free ballet classes for young girls in her low-income neighborhood, a Rio slum named Complexo do Alemão. The catch? Students must show her their report cards to confirm that they’re passing all of their classes.
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“For people in my neighborhood, dancing ballet is not a common thing,” Nascimento revealed in an intimate profile. “It is not part of the reality of these girls.”
The Brazil native represented her country in major competitions including the Gymnaetrada, the world’s largest gymnastics exhibition, but gave up her professional career once she turned 18 to be of financial assistance at home. She continued training on her own in her spare time, attracting the attention of young girls she now teaches.
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“Dancing transformed me so why not use this art to transform these girls?” she says of her decision to launch her class Na Ponta dos Pés (On Tip Toes), which hasn’t come without challenges.
According to reports, the dance class lacks a few materials such as a ballet barre, mirrors and a good floor. However, Nascimento’s greater purpose lies in showing her girls that there is more to life than what they see in Complexo do Alemão, which is infamously known for its frequent violence, gun fights and drug lords.
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“I try to show them that they can have much more than this, that they don’t have to limit themselves. You can’t accept the life you have as your destiny.”