For six weeks, the troubled teens of Britain’s Dance United live like professional dancers. Students of the program—some school dropouts, others with criminal records—train intensively, six hours a day, for a performance at a professional theater. Not everyone makes it through the full session, but the majority of those who do return to school and stay out of trouble. Some even go on to pursue dance professionally.

As for the training environment, teachers at Dance United treat students like any other dancers and intentionally opt not to learn the details of their personal histories. “Giving them a clean slate is fundamental to our philosophy,” Duncan Bedson, the manager of the program in Leeds, England, told The New York Times. “For six weeks, they are dancers, period.”

Dance United students in action:

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