Dance classes at the Cajuru Music Program

Dance classes at the Cajuru Music Program started in April 2016. Taught by Professor Marilia Zamilian, these classes aimed to develop body skills through recreational practices, dance techniques, and improvisation games.

Getting to know the students closely and observing the social context within the community, Marilia changed her methodology and started to approach sensitive listening in her class, as she noticed in the students' behavior the need to speak, express ideas and dialogue. Each class practiced individual and collective listening, with the intention of exercising empathy and welcoming. This practice was very important to establish a bond with the students, and for the students to see everyone's interests were contemplated. The difference in student behavior was significant, as many could not hear each other and were aggressive. After many conversation circles, we understood how dance has its own identity: it carries a little bit of each one.

Dance class changes every year as we identify it as Contemporary Dance. Contemporary Dance is characterized by freedom of expression and by not having a routine or pre-established steps. There is a very important tool for this style of dance: improvisation.


Through improvisation we create movements, we investigate possibilities, we learn to know our body, observe and respond to each other. In addition to improvisation, contemporary dance can also be paired with other techniques such as classical ballet, jazz, somatic education, and others.

In this way, dance class at the Playing for Change Institute in Brazil does not respond to a pre-established model, nor is it concerned with the “perfect” execution of movements. It values ​​all bodies and ways of manifesting itself because we are different. It looks to cultivate children's spontaneity, smiles, discoveries, and take it all to a presentation. Therefore, our dance always has a story to tell, a reflection to instigate.

Physical and Emotional Learning:

Several techniques are covered in class, such as Improvisation, Somatic Education, Classical Ballet, Modern Dance, and Hatha Yoga, which work different physical qualities and skills and provide students with diverse experiences. In addition to technical knowledge, learning strategies, and games, students also learn to invent, interact, and have fun in a playful and spontaneous way. Some personal skills are also encouraged such as autonomy, creativity, collectivity, etc. The encouragement of autonomy makes students feel more self-confident.

By stimulating their creativity, we see the identity of each student flourishing. And by promoting self-knowledge, we cultivate self-esteem and personal security. Therefore, dancing goes beyond technical knowledge, as it is the pulse of life.

We recognize the desire of children and adolescents to go deeper into the dance, in addition to regular classes, Marilia created the Contemporary Dance Group at Playing for Change Institute in October 2017. Since then, the Dance Group serves children and teenagers from 7 to 17 years old, promoting free weekly classes, with a focus on artistic improvement, the creation of choreographies, and performances in Shows and Festivals. Through these actions, we aim to transform the reality of these children and adolescents!


In these three years of being active, the Dance Group participated in several Exhibitions and Festivals, performing in some of the main theaters and stages in the city of Curitiba / Paraná. The Group dreams of becoming performers at the Joinville Dance Festival - the largest dance festival in Brazil, as well as in public schools throughout Brazil.

Testimony of Professor Marilia Zamilian:

When I gave my first class at the Institute of Playing for Change I immediately thought:

"This experience will be challenging!" In the first classes, I couldn't put into practice what I had planned, the students were very agitated and aggressive, and I didn't know how to deal with behaviors like that. Until then, I had only worked in schools and dance academies. But I didn't want to give up on that experience and I started looking for other strategies to bring dance to them. I studied, tested games, cried, laughed, and I completely changed my methodology over time. Everything changed when I decided to start classes with conversation circles. I realized that listening to students, knowing their stories, tastes and interests were a priority, as they needed so much to speak and express their ideas. I also realized that they needed to exercise sensitive listening and listen to each other with respect. It was from this moment that I started to create classes in a collaborative way, together with them and based on their interests. Understanding the social context of the community where these students live also made all the difference, as well as understanding the family structure. It made us closer!

For me, huging and listening to the students are the most important moments when we are together. Today, our classroom vibrates with so many moving bodies, smiles and joy. We learn together, we communicate through dance and we build a dance that entertains, questions and welcomes everyone. I am in love with these children and an opportunity to dance with them!

The Dance Group has a very particular characteristic, which is the reception. We have become a big family and we feel that we can count on each other in any situation. From the subjects of dance affairs to everyone's personal problems. In classes, the students feel comfortable expressing their feelings, and always seek me to talk. Insecurities and personal problems are also worked on in dance classes, through welcoming conversations and practices that promote self-knowledge. Many students say that they see dance as a refuge because they feel that they can express themselves, get to know each other, and discover sensations and joys through it. Learning in dance does not distance ourselves from real life, on the contrary, reality inspires us to dance. Our feelings, someone's life story, our revolts, dreams, and desires turn into a dance. We keep dancing and reaching our dreams together.

About Marilia Zamilian:

Marilia Zamilian is a dance professor, pedagogical coordinator, and yoga teacher at the Playing For Change Brasil Institute. She has a degree in dance from the faculty of arts of Parana UNESPAR, and a postgraduate degree in contemporary studies in dance from the federal university of Bahia UFBA. She has a degree in hatha yoga from the center of studies and practices in yoga CEPY. She is a dance, choreographer, and researcher in the area of video dance. She has been coordinating the contemporary dance group at the school in Cajuru since 2017.

Testimony from the dance Students:

Dance for me serves as a refuge, it's where I feel like being myself, to explore my feelings, and to let go of everything inside me. Dance helps me to let go in front of people, known and unknown, but it's even easier in front of strangers. There are days when I'm simply sad, I go through difficulties, bad thoughts but I just put my feet in class and everything gets better, no matter how bad my day is. Because of dance, today I have wonderful people in my life who I wouldn't change for anything and who I can't imagine myself without. Dance for me is LIBERATION, SPONTANEITY, AND HAPPINESS

-Kauane, 16 years old


Well people usually judge dance and say that everything is very easy. Make the movements, rehearse the steps, put on a cute outfit and get on stage?Dance means that you get into the dancing character, dance means that you get on stage and feel every move, dance transforms who we are. In the middle of this phase we are going through, dance entered my life with a tremendous force and gave me strength to realize that I was able to go through this and much more!

Today I know it's much more than taking the stage and dancing. It's getting on stage and surrendering, its putting your life in every move, its discovering yourself. Dance is an art and that's what inspired me and it's what inspires me to smile everyday. I learned that you don't need words, you don't need writing, I learned to vent and talk through dance and about dance. Each memento says more than a thousand words. I love dance, I love being a dancer.

It was thanks to dance that I learned to love myself.

-Naraiany, 13 years old


Being a dancer is not just in the body, it's in the soul. To be a dancer is to be infectious with joy and have sweetness in the look. It's dancing like the wind moves the leaves, it's feeling the music and being able to be emotional. It's loving others and loving yourself. Taking dance classes is an incredible experience, It was amazing to get to know all the girls that are really my friends, to know that we can trust each other, I love that so much. In this pandemic time it's difficult to meet and I miss it a lot. DANCE TRANSFORMS

-Dafyni, 14 years old


Dance changed my life. During this pandemic I was a little sad and missed everyone as well as dancing on a stage. Little by little we have been meeting, with all the precautions needed. now i'm more excited and happy thanks to the girls and the teacher.

-Karine, 15 years old


Being a girl is not easy, actually being a human being is not easy! But have you ever stopped to think how much a girl suffers? I know, A LOT.

I think that from the moment a girl decides what she wants to be for life, all her choices change, I decided to be a dancer and being a dancer is something so surreal, something that appears to be from another world. To be a dancer is not only to have happy moments on stage but to feel pain after a day of school, it is to feel sad when some dance move is not right, It is to feel inferior to other people that we think are better than us, But dancing has its good sides, You have that moment of joy when you see the whole group committing to some presentation, the cold feeling you get in your belly before going on stage, that feeling after of wanting more. So if you think of entering the dance world but you are afraid or think you are not talented, get that out of your head and play!

After all, no one is born knowing.

-Karolayne, 15 years old


Well no one said it would be easy to be a dancer, at first it took several trials, different looks, not being motivated but we were there with our head held high, jumping any obstacle and today we are happy with what we do, you know why? Because we do it from the heart, that's the essence of dance. People look at us and think we were born already knowing how to dance, as if we were already born with the talent, but this talent is called willpower, when we' like what we do, nothing and no one can take that out of our heads, except for ourselves.

The most rewarding thing is to look at you and see your body evolving, it is so rewarding to see the evolution of a dance colleague, you see that she is there because she likes it. There are small things that make no difference to other people but for us is a step successfully completed. To this day there are people who don't believe in what we do, don't believe we have the potential, but over time we will show that dance can change everything, dance changes the day!

When you are sad, down but put on a cheerful song and dance that's it! You just changed your day, pr when you are in a public place and see a person dancing and think it's funny, that changes your day. We should pay attention to the little things that can happen to us, this little things can change your day.

-Maryana, 15 years old

The Playing For Change Foundation is a global nonprofit organization founded in 2007 offering creative opportunities for marginalized and at risk youth, mainly in the developing
world. We believe in music as an instrument of change and extend our work to humanitarian support, community development, renewable energies, sports education and formal evening classes.

>Learn More about PFCF's work