The Maré has the third worst human development index in Rio de Janeiro.
Nova Holanda is the name of one of the communities within the Maré slum. This name came to be due to the similarity of the way that the houses were built both in Holland and here, according to the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro in 1960, who gave it its name shortly after coming back from a trip to Holland. There are 20,000 people living in this area. Rio slums are not on the outskirts, they don't surround the city, but are in it, determining the way in which very different social environments live together.
Even though Maré it is in a very busy area and with a population of thousands, it is practically unknown to most Rio dwellers.
The strategies used by the city to keep what is different apart, the unknown, are becoming so sophisticated that some city neighbourhoods are shown as ‘empty areas'. This urban strategy of invisibility and emptiness finds an echo in the different practices and perceptions of the vast majority of the population of Rio with regard to the Maré Complex.
How, where and why do we work with dance today? How can dance and contemporary art interfere and even in fact exist in a country with such enourmous social inequalities? Hence the decision of our company to propose to develops a dance project in the Maré slum.
Nowadays that more and more walls and railings are being built, and territories are being fiercely demarcated, boundaries imposed and strictly defended, we propose that culture and art are a possible way to repair territories, repair spaces.
In 2007, the Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Danças found a large warehouse in the Nova Holanda neighbourhood where the company is creating the Centro de Artes da Maré together with the NGO REDSES de Desenvolvimento da Maré.
By starting the creation of the first cultural centre in an area of 20.000 inhabitants, this project intend to promote contact with contemporary art for people that is generally excluded and has no access to cultural life.
The objective of this project is build a space in Nova Holanda where exchanges and new opportunities are put in motion. Our aim is to living in touch with another reality and discovering new possibilities of sharing and creating. It means an occupation not just of urban or geographical territory but an occupation in the territory of the body.
Believing in the synergy between art and the social process as well as in the potential emancipation of both, our project promotes,through artistic and pedagogical actions,the encounter of individuals with a variety of educational and cultural experiences,encouraging critical perspective.