"An ideal text for classroom discussions about the cultural politics of development. Dance Lest We All Fall Down illustrates both how transnational solidarity can improve livelihoods and how it is not free from the tensions and contradictions that have always accompanied outside efforts to 'do good' in the Global South. This book gives proponents and skeptics of NGOs plenty to think about."
-Maria Elena Garcia, Comparative History of Ideas and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington
"A very moving tale about race, gender, and class in the 'Capital of Happiness' in Brazil, Bahia . . . and a powerful and personal account of succeeding against the odds in breaking the cycle of poverty for young poor black girls there...Beautifully illustrates that, yes, it can be done through local empowerment and determination."
-Darius Mans, President, Africare
"A classic in the making. Under the guise of an easygoing and well-written travelogue, we are taken away into the unbelievable story of Bahia Street. And we come out of it bewildered and refreshed. . . . If true-to-life anthropology can be this breathtaking, who needs fiction?"
-Dr. Robert Boonzajer Flaes, Founder and Chair of the Atana Program, Amsterdam
"Inspiring, unique, and perfectly honest. The idea that street girls can actually escape a life of poverty and destruction through schooling and education is as old as the world. Bringing this idea from a nineteenth-century Victorian fiction setting to the real life slums of a Brazilian favela at the turn of the twenty-first century is an adventure...and at times enormously funny. Some books talk about life. Some books give you insight. And once in a blue moon you find a book like this that gives life."
-Dr. Maaike Verrips, director of De Taalstudio, Amsterdam
"The book is accessible to a broad range of readers. . . Although Dance Lest We All Fall Down should not be read as an ABC of starting an NGO, the book certainly provides invaluable inspiration, reflection, and ideas on how to proceed."
"An emotionally affecting book. It makes a strong case for local empowerment. . ."
"... Margaret Willson's story about founding a school for poor girls in a favela in Salvador, Brazil, combines Eat, Pray, Love's romantic self-discoveries with the can-do idealism of Three Cups of Tea."
"a text written passionately, sincerely, and sentimentally; all in the very best sense of all these terms. To understand Bahia, one needs mandinga, mischievousness, and the ability to interpret the true meaning of a smile.... Capoeira, a form of combat that is also a dance, is a fine metaphor for Willson's struggles to feel, to change, and to represent Bahia.... Margaret Willson, Rita Conceicao, and the girls of Bahia Street became experts in how to learn and how to teach such lessons."
-The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology