(Photograph by Mila Petrillo) 

The two young men pictured here are dancers with the School of Dance and Social Integration for Children and Adolescents (or Edisca for short). The school is located in Bom Jardim, an impoverished neighborhood of 200,000 residents in the city of Fortaleza, a metropolis of more than 3 million on the northeast coast of Brazil. Founded in 1992 by Brazilian dancer Dora Andrade, who grew up in Fortaleza, Edisca focuses on rigorous ballet training, providing the young people with focus, discipline, and a sense of accomplishment. Along with dance, Edisca provides schooling, social skills, nutritional and health advice, and meals. Since Edisca’s founding, about 2,000 youths have gone through the program. The dance troupe has performed throughout Brazil, as well as in Germany, Austria, France, and the United States. Some of the students have gone on to careers in dance and theater, and many others have graduated from college.