This Ballet Teacher Is Building an Entire Class of Misty Copelands — For Free

This Ballet Teacher Is Building an Entire Class of Misty Copelands — For Free

She might be the most famous, but Misty Copeland certainly isn't the only ballet pioneer for women of color...

Meet 22-year-old Tuany Tomas Nascimento. 

She teaches ballet to young girls in her home town of Alemão, Rio De Janeiro.

For free.

Alemão is a poor neighborhood ripe with gang violence.

Nascimento wants to teach these young girls that the environment they grow up in doesn't have to limit their potential.

So she started a social project called "Na ponta dos pés" — "tiptoe," in English.

"You can't accept the life you have as being your destiny," Nascimento said in a mini-documentary about the project. "For people from my neighborhood dancing isn't a common thing," the Alemão native said. "It's not part of reality for these girls."

The former professional ballerina said the project developed organically: She took an office job after her career as a ballerina wasn't paying enough. 

She continued practicing ballet in her spare time.

Young girls gathered to watch her dance in admiration — and started asking her to teach them how to dance like her.

"I try to show them that they can have much more than this," she said. "Growing up is beautiful and they don't have to limit themselves. They have to try to achieve what is beyond."

"I'm not going to form professional ballerinas," she said. "So I think it is important to be real with them — to plant this idea so they grow in a different way." 

"I try to show this to my students so they can understand ... that they can have much more than this," she said.