Núcleo de Dança Pélagos is a social project based in São Paulo (Brazil), with the main goal to help young people from vulnerable areas to resignificate their role in society and to gain more self-awareness, using dance as a tool.
The company was created in 2010 by the Brazilian choreographer and dancer Rubens Oliveira. When he was a teenager, Rubens had the chance to join a social initiative called Projeto Arrastão, where he met the famous Brazilian choreographer Ivaldo Bertazzo and discovered that he could use his body as a way to express himself. After studying with Bertazzo and other famous names of Brazilian popular culture, such as Antônio Nóbrega, Oliveira created in 2010 the Núcleo de Dança Pélagos, in partnership with Projeto Arrastão.
The social initiative works with young people from 12 to 25 years old from vulnerable areas in São Paulo. Lessons happen 4 times a week and last up to 5 hours each, and in order to participate the students must be enrolled in a regular school as well. Though dance classes and other cultural activities, the students learn how to communicate with their bodies and how the way they move reflects their past history and their roles in community.
The body is a place to save a story
During the lessons of Brazilian dances, students learn about their roots and are invited to reflect on the particular cultural aspects seen in the peripheries. Other courses, such as classic ballet, are more about muscular control and reflecting about their own bodies. Finally, in the contemporary dance lessons the students experience the possibility of creating their own style and movements based on their stories, feelings and sensations.
There is no collectivity without the individual. And dance makes us build the individual in order to act later in a collective way
In over 5 years, more than 200 students were part of the dance company, and over 1,600 people participated in workshops and open activities. It is estimated that 15,000 people watched the dance shows during this period. The project also helped the young dancers with the transition from their teenage years to adult life. Some of the former students work as dancers – one even has his own dance company – or in other professions related to arts. Others are students at good universities or researchers. But they all carry in their bodies the experience of self-awareness provided by dance.
Watch below a fragment of a presentation by Núcleo de Dança Pélagos:
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