Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rio de Janeiro Carnival

Around the world, just before lent begins, there are Celebrations and Carnivals. I have mentioned Venice and New-Orleans already, but last week, with the beginning of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, I skipped over one of “the greatest show on Earth”: the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. If you like the parties of the New-Orleans Mardi Gras and the elaborate costumes of the Carnival of Venice, then you are going to love Rio!

The first Carnival was celebrated in 1723. Since then, it has never stopped growing. There is Music! There is dancing (samba)! There are street carnivals! And of course, there is a most impressive parade!

The parade features the Samba Schools, which can either be an actual school or just a collaboration of local neighbors that want to attend carnival. The Carnival has become one huge competition between Samba schools, each of which shows off its talent in parades (there are four, depending on the school’s classification or group). Now these are no ordinary parades! Each school chooses a theme or enredo (it can be anything: History of Brazil, History of Humanity, Amazonia, DNA, Visions of the future, etc.) which will be represented in their son, floats and costumes; in the Special group (the best Samba Schools), there are between six and eight elaborate floats each upon which floatees in the best costumes dance and sing and around 3000 (you read that right) participants, also in costumes, singing and dancing all the way. The important parades are held at the Sambodromo, an alley with spectator viewing areas on each side, and each school has to go through its length in 65 to 80 minutes. The following Saturday (today), the top six schools of the special group parade again. Oh, and by the way, the parades go on from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Now that’s what I call partying all night! (From Wikipedia - Carnaval de Rio and Rio Carnival)

Want to see those famed costumes?

Note: The following pictures come from Wikimedia Commons. In most cases, the captions were in Portuguese, which is not a language I know (though I speak French, English, some Spanish, a little German and even less Sindarin). I tried as best I could to translate them in English, but I might have made mistakes. If it is so, I apologize (and please tell me so I can correct it).

Luíza Brunet Imperatriz 2008

Luma de Oliveira

Desfile Beija Flor

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Carnaval in Rio - Bahianaises

Brazilian Carnival

Baianas in 2008

Arranco 2006 Group A

Alessandra Mattos

Model and TV presentater Adriane Galisteu, 2008

Acadêmicos da Abolição - ala das baianas - 2009

A Float of the Santa Cruz Samba School, Carnaval 2002

In Québec, there is a small Samba Dance troupe called “Le Carnaval de Rio” (at least that is how they were presented to us). I’m not sure if they are still around, but they were the entertainment at the Office Christmas Party back in 2008. I got to look at their costumes up close (and take pictures).

Peacock Dancer

Pink and Purple Dancer

Green and White dancer

The "Carnaval de Rio" troupe in Québec colours

Gwenyver with some of the Dancers

What? I couldn't miss this opportunity to get my picture taken surounded by fabulous costumes! I remember at the time, I was seven months pregnant and seeing them dance made me miss dancing so very much.

Although it all looks very complicated, their feathered back pieces were quite simply made. It looked like a large round cardboard upholstered with shiny material. The back side was decorated with sequins to create a design, while the feathers looked like they had been sew in the seam that held both pices of material over the cardboard. Shoulder straps were fixed to one side so the whole contraption could be worn like a back pack.

At least, that is my interpretation of what I saw. I didn't actually ask anyone how it was made.

I need an excuse to make something like that. You’ve got to love those feathered headdresses and back pieces! Wish I had the abs; I love rhythmic music and dancing!

So in conclusion, music, drums, bikinis, costumes, feathers, bright colours and dancing.

I wanna go!

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