´A cultura é a alma da nação´

With irregular salaries for 8 months, artists of the Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro see their art forms and hard work shattering in the hands of a corrupt and irresponsible public management. The theatre was inaugurated on July 14th, 1909 and is one of the most important and beautiful theatres in Brazil and Latin America. 

The theatre’s architecture was inspired in that of the Paris Opera of Garnier, and it has featured some of the most prominent names in the history of classical dance, music, and opera.  In its early days, it received opera and ballet companies from Italy and France until the creation of its own companies in the 30’s. To make a comparison, the BTM (Rio’s ballet company) was founded in 1927 having a 90 year history while the American Ballet Theatre (one of the US’ most important companies) has a 78 year history. Its affiliated public school’s (Escola Estadual de Danças Maria Olenewa) alumni are some of the most brilliant names of dance today: Ana Botafogo, Cecília Kerche (both main dancers of BTM), Roberta Marquez, Thiago Soares (main dancers of the Royal Ballet of London), and Márcia Haydee (main dancer with Stuttgaart Ballet), just to name a few. However, all of this history is threatened by the current crisis in Rio de Janeiro.

Since February of this year, artists of the opera, orchestra, and ballet haven’t received their salaries, or received them irregularly. This means that about 550 people are not receiving their monthly wages, preventing many of them from even attending work since they have no money to pay for transportation. In this time of need many of them are resorting to receiving their income by selling products, working as drivers or other various ways.

Some of them have been forced to seek careers abroad, such as the main dancer Márcia Jaqueline, who is now a main dancer with Salzburg Ballet in Austria. All of them have trained for at least 10 years to master their art forms and now have to find a new way to live. Theatro Municipal has been unable to follow its 2017 program due to the lack of revenue and the impossibility of artists to attend rehearsals. Yet, many dancers who teach at the Maria Olenewa School are still giving classes in spite of this.


Musicians, singers and dancers have united twice this year to perform an artistic public demonstration (once in May 9th, and the second time on October 31st). On both occasions they held a sign saying “A cultura é a alma da nação” (culture is a nation’s soul), to demonstrate their indignation with the government’s disrespect to the city’s artists. Yet, their salaries still haven’t been paid, the theatre has no revenue, and many shows, including Swan Lake (Lago dos Cisnes) and Nutcracker (O Quebra Nozes), have been cancelled.

This situation is aggravating and it is crucial that we, as citizens of Rio de Janeiro, stand up against the government’s disdain. It is our mission to not let their scorn kill dance, music, and culture in our city. To help, non-perishable food item donations can be made at Avenida Almirante Barroso, 14/16, Centro, Rio de Janeiro/RJ.

By Marina Lamas Koria, 10thB