Jessa Balote rehearses during a class at Ballet Manila. Balote, who used to tag along with her family as they collect garbage at a nearby dumpsite, is a scholar at Ballet Manila's dance program.
Jessa Balote, center, balances during a class at Ballet Manila.
Filipino slum dweller Jessa Balote, center, practices with other students during a class at Ballet Manila in the Philippine capital. As an apprentice, she makes around $170 a month, sometimes double that, from stipend and performance fees.
About this Article
The ghetto called Aroma reeks of putrefying trash collected by its residents for recycling. Half-naked children with grimy faces play on muddy dirt roads lined by crumbling shanties of tarpaulin walls, cracked tin roofs and communal toilets. From this Manila slum of garbage collectors emerged an unlikely Cinderella: ballerina Jessa Balote who at the age of 10 was plucked out of her grubby life by a ballet school to prepare her for a life onstage.