We conceived the idea of a web site for the Brazilian Carnival when we found that we had cultural related questions for which we could not readily find answers. My partners, Maria Flynn and Carlos Ramos, are also long-term Cariocas and proud admirers of the Brazilian Carnival culture. At carnival time in Brazil and especially in Rio, everyone, rich and poor, young and old, men and women, boys and girls can participate and indulge in their fantasies as the city becomes ever more joyful and colorful. The music, the pageantry, the costumes and the street dancing go on for several nights just prior to the beginning of Lent. Many thousands of people participate as each of more than two dozen Samba-Schools, each with several thousand members; entertain the city for eighty-two minutes in their turn as they are being judged by a panel of carnival experts. Samba-Schools like Mangueira, Imperio Serrano, Unidos da Tijuca, Beija-flor, Portela , Grande Rio, Mocidade, Viradouro,and others keep the samba alive for more than 80 years.
Below, legendary Baianas at Rio´s Sambadrome.
Photo Credit: Alexandre Vidal
Our website is for the visitors, Brazilian or foreign tourists, to enhance their experience of the Carnival culture by knowing about its origins, traditions and structure. My youthful memories of the Carnival are vivid and represent extraordinary artistic creativity for me. I have never stopped being impressed over the years. I saw the images of love, joy, comedy and human drama represented in the massive floats, Samba School flag-bearers swirling in ballet, Brazilian Samba dancers with their grace, and drum sections with over 200 percussionists so that the Samba energy was palpable. In the 82 minutes allotted to each Samba School, up to 5000 school members parade in full harmony. The questions arose asking how did this come about, who was responsible for the choreography, how did the dancers practice and learn it all and who designed and made those fabulous costumes? I tried to answer these questions through library research and contact with and participation in the clubs and the parades.
Photo Credit: Alexandre Vidal
Another characteristic event in the Rio Carnival that also always dazzled me, the Rio Street Bands (In Portuguese they are called “Blocos de Rua”.) These free-for-all bands, were first seen in Brazil in the 1930´s and today there are more than 400 of them in Rio ´s Carnival. I joined them in my adolescence, but I did not understand how or when they were formed. How did they come to be so democratic, joyful, colorful and deliberately unorganized? Why did these Rio street bands carry funny or sarcastic names such as “Suvaco de Cristo”, “Imprensa que Gamo”, “Carmelitas”, “Empolga às 9”, and “Se me der eu como”. The legendary “Cordão da Bola Preta” street group for example, completed in 2009 its 90th anniversary.
Below, a picture of myself a bit too serious for a samba lover!
At the inauguration of BrazilCarnival.com.br, we will dedicate it to some of the creative and brave men and women in its history who were responsible for nurturing and advancing what we enjoy and treasure to this day: Cartola, Saturnino, Mano Décio da Viola, Carlos Cachaça, Paulo da Portela, Geraldo Babão, Jamelão, Silas de Oliveira, Xangô da Mangueira, Zé Espinguela, Tia Eulália do Império, Tia Ciata, Dona Ivone Lara, Pixinguinha, Carmen Miranda, Seu Molequinho, Arlindo Rodrigues, Tia Regina da Unidos da Tijuca, Elton Medeiros, Ismael Silva, Martinho da Vila, Joãozinho Trinta, Aroldo Melodia, Eneida de Moraes, Nelson Sargento, Albino Pinheiro, Seu Jair do Cavaquinho and Adoniran Barbosa, just to name a few.
Abova, the great Cartola, in a Caricature by artist Leo Martins
BrazilCarnival.com.br also pays respect to the Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro who have kept the samba and carnival flame burning since 1930: Estação Primeira da Mangueira, Portela, Unidos da Tijuca, Salgueiro, Mocidade Independente, Império Serrano, Imperatriz Leopoldinense, Unidos de Vila Isabel, Estácio de Sá, Caprichosos de Pilares, União da Ilha, Beija-Flor, Unidos do Viradouro, São Clemente, Acadêmicos de Santa Cruz, Unidos da Ponte, Unidos do Tuiuti, Acadêmicos da Rocinha, Porto da Pedra, Renascer de Jacarepaguá and Inocentes de Belford Roxo.
Below, my beloved sister and partner in this challenging project.
We would like to thank our preferred Carnival partner Unidos da Tijuca Samba School for all the support they gave us at the development of this project, allowing us to deepen our carnival culture and knowledge on their premises. Our sincere gratitude is directed to Unidos da Tijuca Samba-School President Fernando Horta, Director Luiz Antonio Ramalhoto, Drum Queen Adriane Galisteu, Marketing Manager Fabiana Amorin and the friendly Tijuca community. We would also like to thank friends who helped us and kept our spirits alive during the initial days: Bill Flynn (in memory), Alexandre Vidal from FOTO BR agency, (who provided us with simply the Top Carnival photos of Brazil ) Igor Blau and Heloisa Carvalho for the constant support.
And, finally how can I not mention the amazing Drum Queens, Carnival Muses and Goddesses of the Brazilian Carnival that kept us insipired with their grace and art. As you will see, we have devoted an entire Muses Directory with the profile of the most dazzling deities in Brazilian Carnival. Some of the profiles include: Thatiana Pagung, Adriane Galisteu, Viviane Araujo, Alessandra Mattos, Juliana Alves, and Jaque Khury, to name a few, who work all through the year to make sure all of us see them in their most spectacular form.
We hope that this effort will enhance everyone’s pleasure should they be fortunate enough to be in Rio or São Paulo during the pre Lent festivities. Those interested in advertising on or participating in this web site may contact us through this form.
The Brazil Carnival Editor.