Being confronted with violence and drugs or falling pregnant at an early age is part of the everyday experiences of children and young people in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. But now a group made up of members of some of the best dance academies in Brazil has decided to come up with an alternative: They started a ballet school in the Manguinhos favela to show 250 girls and young women a way out of their daily misery - through joy, play and discipline and by providing them with new self-confidence. 

The school includes a library and four times a month the students can visit the impressive Teatro Municipal, where the girls have the chance of a personal encounter with their idols. 

The Russian photographer Evgeny Makarov, who lives in Germany, accompanied the ballet students of Manguinhos on their ways through the favela, during training at school, which he describes as a “protective bunker”, during training at home, where they practice their ‘Arabesque’ and ‘Grand Plié’ in poor surroundings - and in a community that makes them happy.

Photographer Evgeny Makarov, Russia/Germany (Agentur Focus)

Portrait: Evgeny Makarov

© Evgeny Makarov

Evgeny Makarov, born 1984 in St. Petersburg, came to Germany with his family in 1992. He studied political science at the University of Hamburg and discovered photography as a medium to “capture social reality more directly than with an academic approach”. He graduated from the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus in 2014 and took the Joop Swart Masterclass of the World Press Photo.

Makarov currently lives in Brazil. His works have already been published in more than two dozen media, including ‘FAZ’, ‘ZEIT’, ‘NZZ’ and ‘GEO Special’.



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