Brazil Travel

Carnival Samba Parade

Every year the talent and rhythms of each Samba School come together in the Sambodrome for the Samba Parade. A must-see for all who have journeyed to Rio for Carnival, the parade includes the top Samba schools competing over two days of music, dance, singing, and passion. The parade begins about 9:00 pm each evening and continues throughout the night, ending at day break.

Each Samba School represents an overall theme expressed through the dance, music, costumes, and floats. The costumes and floats are designed and created by the constituents of the school. Membership is not small - some Samba Schools have over 4000 members! Each performance takes over an hour as the school executes their routine on the runway of the Sambodrome.

Judging the Samba Schools is not an easy task. Professionals selected by the League of Samba Schools (LIESA) to judge the parade are seated throughout the Sambodrome. Harmony, synchronicity, costumes, music, mood, and movements are just some of the elements that contribute to the score of the school. The judges determine which are the six best schools and bestow these schools with the tribute of performing in the Winners Parade the Saturday following the Samba Parade.

The performing Samba School is separated into different sections. The first section is called the Abre-alas and includes, at the most, fifteen performers. Since they are the first group the audience sees, each member has the important job of inciting the crowd to join in with the atmosphere and theme of the school.

The Velha Guardo is a group a men who can be identified by the white suits and hats they always wear in the parade. This group is usually at the end of the parade.

The Ala das Baianas are the section of women who wear large circular traditional skirts. The women dance in the skirts by spinning in circles, creating a frenzy of applause and often a standing ovation.

A couple called the porta-bandeira (female) and mestre-sala (male) dance together using the steps of the samba. The woman holds the school's banner while she moves down the runway. The man has the job of bringing the audience's awareness to the woman. A child's version of this dance is also part of the parade, including the children's interpretation of the samba.

Another part of the parade is the floats or carros alegoricos. These original creations often have extraordinary innovations, from animals with moving parts to imaginary creatures that discharge smoke and sparkles. Some floats are driven by motor but the majority are moved manually by people of the community. Look to the top of the float to catch a glimpse of the most elaborate costume. The person wearing this profound attire is referred to as the cherry of the float.

The percussion band or bateria and the vocalist or puxador are essential components of the parade. The percussion band establishes the rhythm of the music and movements. The vocals of the puxador help to guide the Samba School throughout the performance and, hopefully, to victory!

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