Brazil - Edisca
Edisca was founded in 1992 by the Brazilian prima ballerina, Dora Andrade. It uses the discipline of ballet and dance as a means to get street and slum children away from drugs, prostitution and violence and focus their attention on improving their lives.
Once the children are won over by the joys of dance, and led away from the traps and dangers of street life, a concrete education cycle is put in place, with a square meal at midday as an added bonus (often the only meal the children have). Edisca’s education is then backed up by medical visits and counselling for the most traumatised and difficult children. At present 280 children are involved in the project, all learning ballet while taking on new skills of reading and writing. Many children have now completed Edisca’s full education and dance course. Some have gone on to be educators themselves or found work as professional dancers. Thanks to Edisca, all have a core sense of discipline that enables them to deal with the harsh realities of their environment and street culture.
Edisca is now expanding its programme to involve the estranged parents of several of the slum children (children often take to the streets and have no contact with their parents for years). Through this outreach programme the project draws these parents to involve them in as many activities as possible, particularly young mothers. Those parents who still have children at home are also persuaded to let them come to lessons (the work of every family member is necessary to survive with children supporting their families by hawking on the streets or carrying out odd jobs). Edisca strongly believes that an artistic and educational project for disadvantaged children shouldn’t mean that it is amateur. On the contrary, the most rigorous artistic and creative standards are upheld which means that children are given as professional a training as possible.
Money donated to this project would go towards expanding the numbers of children in the project, spreading the parents’ outreach programme, particularly for young mothers (many of them teenagers). In this way whole communities would be transformed through the education and art of their children. The Edisca ballet has now toured many countries. It performed at UNESCO Headquarters in November 2002. UNESCO has just established a unique partnership (link to ‘Partners’ page) with Repetto, the French ballet shoe and equipment maker, to promote and fund this innovative project.