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Free dance in the favelas

Training for dancers in the Maré favela, Brazil.

The Escola Livre de Dança da Maré (ELDM) is a training project for young dancers, founded by the not-for-profit group Redes de Desenvolvimento da Maré and the dance company of Brazilian choreographer Lia Rodrigues.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Free dance in the favelas
© Sammi Landweer

The Maré favela is one of the biggest in Rio de Janeiro. Over 132,000 people live there, neglected by the public authorities, with little or no access to cultural life. In 2004, Maré was chosen by Lia Rodrigues as the headquarters for her dance company, founded 22 years ago in association with Redes, a not-for-profit social and educational organization long established in the favela.

In 2008 and 2009, Lia Rodrigues set up Dança para todos, a scheme offering free dance classes to the favela’s inhabitants of all ages, in premises extensively renovated to become the Centro de Artes da Maré. The centre is also home to the ELDM, opened in October 2010 under director Silvia Soter, to offer quality dance teaching to local people , leading to a three-year professional training course for young people from the favela and beyond – in a spirit of de-ghettoisation.

The project’s guiding philosophy mirrors that of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès: to promote dialogue, encourage social cohesion through artistic projects, and stimulate an inquiring, critical outlook on the part of professionals and committed amateurs alike – altering our outlook on the world to promote change for the better.

The Fondation is committed to the work of the ELDM, through its support for the renovation and refurbishment of the school and company headquarters, in a former industrial building, the partial funding of teachers’ salaries, and the endowment of study bursaries.

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