In the classroom at a public school near the South American nation's Pacific coast, girls line up at wooden ballet barres, point toes and curve arms.
"When I dance I forget about everything," 16-year-old Maria Cielo Cardenas said on a recent afternoon. "It's as if I were flying."
The class is led by Maria del Carmen Silva, a former professional dancer.
She says her mission isn't just to teach girls how to plié, but to prepare them for a future outside the boundaries of their poor neighborhood.
"Ballet isn't known because it's so expensive," the former National Ballet of Peru dancer said.
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