Ballet teacher breaking class barriers with dance in Peru

In this April 2, 2019 photo, young ballet students stand in first position in a dance studio at a public school in the Chorrillos neighborhood, a poor

In this April 2, 2019 photo, young ballet students stand in first position in a dance studio at a public school in the Chorrillos neighborhood, a poor

In this April 2, 2019 photo, ballet students wait for the start of their lesson at a public school in the Chorrillos neighborhood, a poor part of Lima

In this April 2, 2019 photo, ballet students wait for the start of their lesson at a public school in the Chorrillos neighborhood, a poor part of Lima

In this April 2, 2019 photo, Maria del Carmen Silva, a former professional dancer, instructs a group of young dancers in a studio at a public school i

In this April 2, 2019 photo, Maria del Carmen Silva, a former professional dancer, instructs a group of young dancers in a studio at a public school i

In this April 2, 2019 photo, young ballet dancers practice their technique in a studio at a public school in the Chorrillos neighborhood, a poor part

In this April 2, 2019 photo, young ballet dancers practice their technique in a studio at a public school in the Chorrillos neighborhood, a poor part

In this April 4, 2019 photo, Maria del Carmen Silva, a former professional dancer, and her ballet students, search and collect recycling plastic bottl

In this April 4, 2019 photo, Maria del Carmen Silva, a former professional dancer, and her ballet students, search and collect recycling plastic bottl

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Young girls are learning the delicate art of ballet dancing in a Peruvian neighborhood where families consider running water a luxury.

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.