The dance craze that is helping keep Rio's slums clean

Kids dancing Passinho in a favela in Rio de Janeiro Credit: APTN

A new dance craze sweeping the favelas of Rio de Janeiro has been credited with helping to tackle drug abuse and crime.

Passinho, which translates as "little step", grew out of the baile funk genre of music that grew out of the slums of Brazil's capital.

Dancers combine Samba-like footwork with break-dancing, free spins and acrobatics to create a unique style.

Videos uploaded to YouTube and other social media have fuelled the craze, spawning increasingly prestigious dance tournaments.

One young dancer called Jonathan Batista believes the dance has brought positive social change to the favelas.

"I think that, if Passinho hadn't reached the communities in Tijuca or outside as well, I think many young people would have got involved with crime," he said.

He father Andrez Luiz da Cruz agrees that it has showed youngsters an alternative to dealing drugs.

"With the arrival of Passinho here in the community they can be well-dressed they can be happy without the influence of the drug trafficking," he said.

A child practicing Passinho in Rio de Janeiro Credit: APTN

Starting out as a past-time on street corners in Rio's favelas, Passinho has grown in popularity leading to chart hits, dance tournaments and even TV advertisements.

Competitions pit rival dancers against each other in 45-second bouts, cheered on by crowds of animated supporters.

One dancer was recently crowned Passinho champion by a popular TV network.

Hilton Santos da Cruz Jr. - known as "Hiltinho Fantastico" - says he started dancing after seeing videos on YouTube.

Passinho champion 'Hiltinho Fantastico' said he learnt from watching videos on YouTube Credit: APTN

Many favelas have seen a strong police presence in recent years in an attempt to drive out drug gangs. Rio will host the World Cup nest summer, and the Olympic Games two years after.

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