The Essence Of The Rio Samba Parade

Carnival In Rio Is Not Only About Samba Schools, But Carnival King And Queen, Flag Beares And Her Escort, Samba Songs, Drummers And Even More.

The Sambadrome is the most exciting place to be in Rio during the Carnival where the Samba Parade portrays true Brazilian culture at its best. The focus of the parade is the 12 samba schools that compete for the championship title. Each school urges the crowd to vibe with the rhythm of the samba with their own samba song and theme. The parade truly sums up the carioca way of life and has number elements which are the basis on which the judges award points to each school.

Carnival celebrations begin at the behest of Carnival King Momo who is handed over the key to the city by the Mayor of Rio. The Carnival is never short of beautiful, confident, and mesmerizing samba dancers who compete for the title of Carnival Queen. This bevy of beauties, for the most part, steals the show in their elaborate costumes and frenetically graceful high-heeled dances routines. The other two runners up are named the Carnival Princesses.

The Essence of the Rio Carnival Samba Parade.

The making of the Samba school parade

Each participant in a samba school has a specific role to play in the Samba Parade. With points being awarded on different aspects of the parade, it is essential that team members play their role to perfection to ensure that their performance is carried out in a timely manner. Preparations for the next carnival begin much before the dust can settle on the present year's carnival. The samba theme and song remain a closely guarded secret until December when rehearsals begin in full swing.

Spearheading the team is the Carnival Designer or Carnavalesco, a person that is most revered by team members who share his vision. The designer sets the theme and organizes practically everything required for the parade right from the costume designs, float decorations, accessories, theme song, rehearsals, and more. Each sequence is choreographed to perfection in order to grab the attention of the judges and compete for the champions' title. Months of preparation are put in by the samba schools who mobilize the support of thousands of locals from their communities.

For the samba parade each school is divided into sections called 'alas' or wings, with each wing consisting of 100 members or more wearing the same costume. Every wing has a specific role to play according to the school's theme. At the head of the parade is the Vanguard Commission, a group of the most skillful samba performers that are the first to grab the attention of the judges. Each wing has a president who is required to ensure that the costumes are produced on time and the particular wing moves in precision during the parade. The president is also in charge of costume sales for his particular wing.

The "Porta-bandeira" or Flag Bearer and her "Mestre-sala" or Escort are a pair of highly skilled dancers that are among the first to set the stadium alight with their graceful steps. Often, the Queen or "Rainha" of the samba school, who is selected after a competition, leads the procession as she turns up the heat at the Sambadrome.

In between each wing are floats that are lavishly decorated according to the school's theme. Aboard these floats are elaborately costumed dancers who portray the school's creativeness along with celebrities who support the school. At the heart of every school is the 'bateria' a group of 250 – 300 percussionists that produce the energy and the rhythms for the samba dancers. The drummers are led by the Queen of the Drummers who motivates an already frenzied crowd to dance to the beats all the way down the samba strip. Every school has a sound truck that carries the best samba vocalists who belt out the theme song in precision with the drummers.

No Carnival can be complete without the Passistas or samba dancers, a group of 15 – 20 dancers that have the honor of dancing the entire length of the samba strip. The group of dancers, carefully selected at a competition, do justice to the drummers as they continue to sway to the fast paced beats of the samba. While the schools are busy parading and the spectators enjoy loads of entertainment, the judges keep a watchful eye in their quest to pick out a champion. However, considering all the hard work and effort that each team puts into the making of the Rio Carnival, everyone is a champion in the eyes of millions of spectators.

The Samba Song

Every carioca knows the true spirit and value of samba songs from all time greats like the late Clara Nunes. The samba is an eclectic mix of music, song, and dance styles that Afro-Brazilians brought with them to the impoverished slums surrounding Rio after the abolition of slavery. The samba song forms the basis for the samba theme put up each year at the carnival. The samba song revolves around the theme which can range from politics to history and sports that a school chooses for the carnival. Often, the theme is based on current events and issues related to Rio or Brazil. The samba song plays a major role in the judging process, with careful attention to lyrics and melody. The samba song remains a secret until around two months before the carnival when copies are sold to the public. It would be worthwhile to pay attention to the lyrics at the Sambadrome on your visit to the Rio Carnival.

The joys of being a spectator at the Sambadrome

Being amongst the thousands of revelers at the Sambadrome is something that needs to be experienced in order to understand the true spirit behind the event. Spectators enjoy a sensational display of colors, costumes, floats, and dancers, set to the sounds of the samba.
The Sambadrome has a seating capacity of around 80,000, which is evidently not enough, given the millions of carnival goers that desire to soak in the sights and sounds at Rio's most celebrated event. The stadium consists of grandstands, open boxes, and special air-conditioned boxes that are sold out well before New Year. You have a chance to be at the heart of the celebrations at the Sambadrome if you book your tickets and costumes of your favorite samba school as early as possible.

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