Part of the make-up of the beauty and colors of Brazil are the country’s favelas, which began as squatter settlements in the 19th century. One of the largest of these favelas is Paraisópolis. At first glance, it just looks like a myriad of jumbled shacks piled on top of one another, inhabited by people who are struggling and/or overcoming.
But deep inside the favela are examples of people and institutions that are strong, empowered and transforming. In Paraisópolis is Monica Tarragó and her ballet school, Ballet Paraisópolis, which she says “arose from the desire to transform the lives of families in this community and bring art, education and culture to Paraisópolis.”
In 2012, Tarragó, a dancer, teacher and choreographer, started this training project that, through the teaching of classical and contemporary dance, encourages children and youngsters to search for better life and opportunities. Today, Ballet Paraisópolis has a total of 200 students, with another 2,000 on the waiting list.
Inspired by Tarragó and Ballet Paraisópolis, Só Dança has created the Diamonds in the Rough Collection, with a look and feel based on the aesthetics of ballet: strength with beauty. A beautiful diamond is created after being under extreme pressure, after all.
“Ballet Paraisópolis takes in only a limited number of students each year and gets them ready to perform on international stages,” explains Kelly McCaughey, marketing director for Só Dança. “Without the generous help from the school and donors, these dancers wouldn’t have the chance to train as they do.”
The collection is full of pretty pastels, jewel tones and fun prints. And the styles are all named after students of Ballet Paraisópolis, who are also the models for the line. McCaughey notes that Só Dança has sponsored the school for many years and wanted to highlight Ballet Paraisópolis with the Diamonds in the Rough Collection.
Dancers are sure to exude elegance and compassion when they wear the Thifany Long Sleeve Leotard with Mesh Overlay, with the words “love”, “peace”, “unity” and “faith” delicately written on the black mesh. And the shimmery colors and qualities of the Haissa, Carol and Geise leotards are grace personified.
And the Diamonds in the Rough Collection includes fashion styles for men as well, one thing that makes the line so special, says McCaughey. The Carlos Men’s Ankle Length Ballet Tights come in jewel tones as well as black and are flattering, comfortable and stylish. And for even more fun and flair, there are the Luiz Men’s Ankle Length Ballet Tights with the same compassionate text written down the leg line.
Só Dança’s Diamonds in the Rough Collection is about community, perseverance, stamina, hope and the celebration of the beautiful heart of Brazilians.
“We hope that by reading about Ballet Paraisópolis, knowing that they are helping other dancers to fulfill their dreams, dancers wearing pieces from this collection will be empowered and gorgeous at the same time,” McCaughey says.
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.