Summer Travel Study

World Arts and Cultures/Dance:

Theater of the Oppressed

  • Dates

    TBA: Late June to Late July

  • Location

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Program Fee

    UC Undergrads: TBA

    UC Grad Students: TBA

    Visiting Students: TBA

    Fees are subject to change by action of the UC Regents.

Spend your summer at the Center for Theater of the Oppressed (CTO) learning about their ongoing projects in Rio de Janeiro and the methodology now used around the world for social action through theater.

Work directly with CTO’s “jokers”/educators, trained by Augusto Boal, who today are developing the methodology in different social contexts. Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) is a humanist methodology based on the belief that every human being is capable of making art.

T.O. invites people to become “spect-actors,” capable of taking action and using theater as a rehearsal space for social transformation. Theater of the Oppressed has been an important instrument in the fight against oppression, the mobilization of social resistance, as well as the creation of new laws.

During the UCLA-CTO program, you will meet the Groups of Theater of the Oppressed (GTO’s) that work in various locations with a wide range of issues, such as domestic workers fighting against sexism and for union worker’s rights (Marias do Brasil), mental health patients fighting against stigma and discrimination (Pirei na Cenna), black artist-activists fighting against racism (Cor do Brasil) and youth from favelas (slums) dealing with varying issues (T.O. na Maré).

During the program, participants will also partake in a T.O. intensive, having the opportunity to experiment with and apply the methodologies they are learning about.

Alongside T.O. training, students will have the option to either learn about Brazilian dance in depth, or study a range of Brazilian art forms such as poetry, music, visual art, etc.

To learn more about the Center for Theater of the Oppressed, visit


Program Courses

All students will enroll in two required courses while attending the program:

  • All students will enroll in the core course: WL ARTS 174B (4 units)
  • Students will then choose 1 of 2 options for their second required course:
    • WL ARTS 120 (4 units) or
    • DANCE C145 (4 units)

*Courses will include some pre-summer preparation to introduce students to the Portuguese language and Brazilian culture.

Course Descriptions

WL ARTS 174B: Introduction to the Theater of the Oppressed (4 units)

Prerequisites:  None

In this participatory course, we use theory and practice to explore Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) through intensive study at the Center of Theater of the Oppressed (CTO).  Over the course of the month-long study, we take part in numerous workshops at the CTO to learn about the techniques, methodology, and practical application of this activist theater form in the place where it was codified.  We will also have the opportunity to visit and work with various community theater groups around the city.  These groups include domestic workers (Marias do Brasil), mental health patients (Pirei na Cenna) and a youth group from a local favela (T.O. No Maré.)

WL ARTS 120: Arts and Culture of Brazil (4 units)

Prerequisites:  None

This accelerated course offers an immersive introduction to the Afro-Ameríndio (African and indigenous based) cultural practices of Brazil in one of its most vibrant cities, Rio de Janeiro. Such practices include Capoeira Angola (martial art/dance), Roda de Samba (music), Candomblé (Afro-Brazilian religion), and Afro-Brazilian culinary arts. Students will learn a strong theoretical framework of these practices through texts and class discussions, while experiencing them firsthand through workshops and group excursions to cultural sites, museum exhibitions, and performances. In addition, students will explore contemporary issues and contradictions of Rio de Janeiro as they pertain to social equity, political power and artistic expression.

DANCE C145: Dances of Brazil (4 units)

Prerequisites:  None

This is an intensive and immersive course meant for students who are Dance Majors, Minors and/or people interested in deepening their movement practice and knowledge of Brazilian dances. Students will participate in active dance workshops taught by internationally renowned Rio-based dance artists, including Juliana Manhães (Samba de Roda, Jongo, Coco), Aline Valentim (Afro-Brazilian dance & dances of the Orixás), and Mestre Rogério of the FICA organization (Capoeira Angola). To compliment their physical practice, students will build a strong theoretical framework of Brazilian cultural practices through texts and class discussions; dance and embodied practices will be the lens through which students learn about the history, politics and culture of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil as a whole. The course will include group excursions to cultural sites, community events and live performances.


TBA.  Syllabus and schedule are subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.


Travel Study courses must be taken for a letter grade.  Grades will be based on class attendance and participation, written responses to readings, journal entries, and contributions to arts-activist workshops performances.  Grading criteria is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.


TBA.  You are responsible for purchasing your own textbooks and workbooks. We strongly suggest you read as much of the text material as possible before you depart. Textbook information will be available at a later date.

Budget and Financial Aid

Budget Estimate UC Undergrads UC Grad Students Visiting Students
Program Fee TBA TBA TBA
Visa (Single Entry) $160 $160 $160
Textbooks (estimate)  $100  $100  $100
Airfare (estimate)  $1500  $1500  $1500
Meals (estimate)  $500  $500  $500
Spending Money (estimate)  $500  $500  $500

Program fee includes registration and course fees, accommodations, some meals, program excursions and health insurance.

Airfare, textbooks, optional courses, other meals and optional excursions are additional.

Fees are subject to change by action of the UC Regents.

Document Fee

Non-UCLA students will be charged a $50 Document Fee.  This is a one-time document fee which covers fees for first-class mailing of official transcripts, diploma and much more. Please visit the Registrar’s Office Website for more information.  Matriculated UCLA Students: Please visit the Registrar’s Office Website for document fee information.


All undergraduate students will be charged a $61 IEI fee per summer. The IEI (Instructional Enhancement Initiative) fee is a course materials fee that is charged in order to support the use of technology in undergraduate education at UCLA.


We recommend that you budget accordingly to cover optional sightseeing, laundry, internet cafes, emergencies, etc.  How much to budget depends on your travel, entertainment and souvenir choices. It is always best to overestimate your spending. Take the time to research the cost of living in your destination and the activities you want to participate in while abroad.

Purchasing Airfare

Please do not purchase airfare until instructed to do so by your Travel Study Program Coordinator.

Financial Aid

Financial aid for Travel Study programs is available to qualified UCLA students. All other students should inquire about financial aid at their home institution. For details about the financial aid application process, please visit the Financial Aid section of this website.

On Location

Accommodation: Students and faculty will reside in a centrally-located guest house. Please note that guest house may be co-ed, although roommates in each bedroom are of the same gender.

UCLA Summer Sessions reserves the right to change housing location. Should this be necessary, we will arrange comparable accommodations elsewhere.

All classes will take place at the Center of Theater of the Oppressed (CTO) in Lapa, at the shared housing, or at the location of the various community groups, we will be working with.

Santa Teresa (the area where we’re planning on staying) is near CTO, which will serve to cut down on travel time and distance, increase safety, and offer various opportunities to take part in the bohemian arts community. It is also very near the metro, one of the safer and easier means of public transportation around the city.


Rio de Janeiro is a large metropolitan city, and like any other, it is important to be mindful of your surroundings. Safety will be one of the initial conversations and focuses of the trip in order to understand how to be safe and respectful as foreigners traveling to Brazil to live and work in (and with) various communities. CTO will be a major resource, helping us to understand the context that we are entering. Among other practices, we will institute a buddy system, where we will agree to always travel in pairs when going on excursions.

The issue of street violence in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro is often overmagnified by the international media and has changed dramatically in the last several years with the government’s use of “pacification.” This method, whose politics is repressive and controversial, has been mainly used in the favela areas of the city. The city is also better set up for international travelers than it has ever been, as it is just coming off of the World Cup and gearing up for the 2016 Olympics.


Meals will be handled individually, with opportunities for communal cooking and eating experiences.

We hope you will approach your meals – and all other aspects of the culture in which you will be immersed – with an open mind.

Please let us know when you apply for this program if you have special dietary needs as well as any physical or medical conditions. We will advise you accordingly.


During the program, in your free time, participants will be able to visit various tourist sites of Rio de Janeiro. Free time is built into the program for such activities. To aid participants in this process, information regarding tourist agencies will be distributed.   

Free time for sightseeing is independent of the UCLA-CTO study abroad program. If you plan on traveling extensively, we recommend that you budget additional spending money to use at your other desired locations. In their personal outings, students will have the chance to visit beaches, the Tijuca forest (the largest urban forest in the world), and the Maracanã stadium (the most important soccer stadium of Brazil and the site for the World Cup 2014 final), as well as many other options of their liking that can be discussed with professional tourist agents.

For more info

To learn more about Rio de Janeiro:

To learn more about the Center for Theater of the Oppressed: