The Carnival year is an exceptional time, cyclical in nature, and best experienced in three separate and complementary phases: Carnival itself is the ceremonial phase, when the pageant takes place; post-Carnival is a time to rest and ponder the next Carnival; then comes the pre- Carnival phase, a time to prepare for the upcoming parade.
The Carnival year is an exceptional time, cyclical in nature, and best experienced in three separate and complementary phases: Carnival itself is the ceremonial phase, when the pageant takes place; post-Carnival is a time to rest and ponder the next Carnival; then comes the pre- Carnival phase, a time to prepare for the upcoming parade.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Practicing samba

Practicing samba.

Liliane S. Guterres

© Liliane S. Guterres, Brazil


During the parade, emotions reach their peak. On that day, members get what they have been waiting for all year long. "Today’s the big day," they say. The rolling drums, the war-like cry announcing the theme samba, the deafening fireworks, and the excitement and tension of the members, all make for a highly emotional setting, often apparent in the tears of the parade participants. Once in the parade, they see themselves as members of a team, with their own positive self-image.
During the parade, emotions reach their peak. On that day, members get what they have been waiting for all year long. "Today’s the big day," they say. The rolling drums, the war-like cry announcing the theme samba, the deafening fireworks, and the excitement and tension of the members, all make for a highly emotional setting, often apparent in the tears of the parade participants. Once in the parade, they see themselves as members of a team, with their own positive self-image.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Choosing the Samba

The members of a sumba school chose a theme.

Liliane S. Guterres

© Liliane S. Guterres, Brazil


The first task in preparing for a new School parade is to choose the theme storyline, the subject which is to be performed down the avenue. These can be extremely varied, but usually include historical facts or figures, legends and myths. The theme storyline will be written into the samba’s lyrics, and be reflected visually in the costumes and the floats. The second task is to choose the theme samba, the music to be sung during the parade which should include all points mentioned in the theme storyline.

Costumes
Once the theme storyline and the theme samba have been chosen, the costumes and floats can be designed; this usually takes place in August, September or October. Everything in the lyrics of the theme samba must be reflected in the costumes and the floats.

Each wing has its own seamstress. Members need to buy their costumes, whereas the celebrities, or "standouts," get their costumes from the School. The costumes are made during the final months leading up to the parade. They are made of fabric in each School’s colours, and are decorated with embroidery or plastic appliqués, feathers, spangles, or any other material wh Read More
The first task in preparing for a new School parade is to choose the theme storyline, the subject which is to be performed down the avenue. These can be extremely varied, but usually include historical facts or figures, legends and myths. The theme storyline will be written into the samba’s lyrics, and be reflected visually in the costumes and the floats. The second task is to choose the theme samba, the music to be sung during the parade which should include all points mentioned in the theme storyline.

Costumes
Once the theme storyline and the theme samba have been chosen, the costumes and floats can be designed; this usually takes place in August, September or October. Everything in the lyrics of the theme samba must be reflected in the costumes and the floats.

Each wing has its own seamstress. Members need to buy their costumes, whereas the celebrities, or "standouts," get their costumes from the School. The costumes are made during the final months leading up to the parade. They are made of fabric in each School’s colours, and are decorated with embroidery or plastic appliqués, feathers, spangles, or any other material which might enhance its dazzling effect.

Floats
Building the floats begins in January, in a vast warehouse (barracão) near the parade grounds. Large Schools make 6 or 7 gigantic floats in 30 to 45 days.

The floats are made out of metal, then lined with wood. They are decorated with foam rubber, polystyrene, paint, paper, cloth, plastic, mirrors, fibreglass and other materials.

Rehearsals
Starting in September, the Samba Schools begin rehearsals for the percussion section and the "standouts," and also for the public, so that they learn to sing the theme samba. The rehearsals are vast parties held in the quadra, or samba headquarters, where thousands frolic till dawn. The pace picks up as Carnival approaches.

The Preview: the Muamba
During the last three weekends before Carnival, the Samba Schools practice their entire production. This preview is called the Muamba, and includes practically all those who will participate in the official parade. Costumes are not worn at this time, but participants parade out in the city streets. The Muamba is important, because through it the locals join in with the members of the Samba School.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Design to costume

From Design to Finished Costume .

Beto Nascente

© Beto Nascente, Brazil


The Muamba

The Muamba is a rehearsal for the whole Carnival parade.

Beto Nascente

© Beto Nascente, Brazil


Carnival Float

A Carnival float under construction

Zoé Degani

© Zoé Degani, Brazil


Each Samba School has an hour in which to present its parade. During that time, judges score the parade on the basis of nine criteria, using a point system ranging from 0 to 10. The criteria are: percussion section, theme-music, harmony (perfect relation between rhythm and melody), theme storyline, costumes, flow (uniqueness, cohesion, and progression of choreographed movements), ballroom master and flag bearer, floats, decorations, and finally, the overall effect.

Each year, the highest ranked School is promoted to the group immediately above it, and the lowest ranked, relegated to the group immediately below it.

Cleaning up between the Samba Schools
After each School’s presentation, there is a fifteen minute pause in which the street is cleared and then everything starts all over again. City Hall and the Carnival Entitities Association (Associação das Entidades Carnavalescas), the Samba Schools’ highest authority, is responsible for pageant administration.

Victory
Winning a Carnival is a moment of great joy and celebration for a Samba School. It represents a public acknowledgement that its performance was the b Read More
Each Samba School has an hour in which to present its parade. During that time, judges score the parade on the basis of nine criteria, using a point system ranging from 0 to 10. The criteria are: percussion section, theme-music, harmony (perfect relation between rhythm and melody), theme storyline, costumes, flow (uniqueness, cohesion, and progression of choreographed movements), ballroom master and flag bearer, floats, decorations, and finally, the overall effect.

Each year, the highest ranked School is promoted to the group immediately above it, and the lowest ranked, relegated to the group immediately below it.

Cleaning up between the Samba Schools
After each School’s presentation, there is a fifteen minute pause in which the street is cleared and then everything starts all over again. City Hall and the Carnival Entitities Association (Associação das Entidades Carnavalescas), the Samba Schools’ highest authority, is responsible for pageant administration.

Victory
Winning a Carnival is a moment of great joy and celebration for a Samba School. It represents a public acknowledgement that its performance was the best in the city. Victory is celebrated with countless parties. The mood is festive, with members greeting each other with hugs, congratulations and praise, and regaling each other with stories about the parade.
image

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Samba School

This samba school is being judged.

Beto Nascente

© Beto Nascente, Brazil


Cleaning up

A clean up crew clears the streets between each samba school presentation.

Ricardo Moraes

© Ricardo Moraes, Brazil


Celebration

Celebrating a victory at the Carnival.

Paulino Menezes

© Paulino Menezes, Brazil


Somba

Brazil, show your face

Renatinho-Fofo-Lelê

© S. R. B. Imperadores Do Samba


Song

Open your hand and come to town. Let the gipsy read your fortune.

Custodio- nego Izolino Parodia

© A. R. C. Da Vila Do Iapi


After Carnival comes a period of rest. In the months of March, April and May, you don’t "do" Carnival, you just ponder the next parade. Only those closest to the Samba School, such as the directorate and the most committed members, continue to meet in the quadra, or headquarters. These are important social occasions, where people enjoy drinking beer and Rio Grande do Sul’s famous chimarrão, enjoy eating churrasco-style grilled beef, and enjoy dancing the samba. They relive past Carnivals, with their highlights, victories and defeats, pain and joy, creating a living legend for the Samba School.
After Carnival comes a period of rest. In the months of March, April and May, you don’t "do" Carnival, you just ponder the next parade. Only those closest to the Samba School, such as the directorate and the most committed members, continue to meet in the quadra, or headquarters. These are important social occasions, where people enjoy drinking beer and Rio Grande do Sul’s famous chimarrão, enjoy eating churrasco-style grilled beef, and enjoy dancing the samba. They relive past Carnivals, with their highlights, victories and defeats, pain and joy, creating a living legend for the Samba School.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Relate some traditions associated with the Brazilian Carnival, Porto Alegre
  • Explore the role of music and dance in Brazilian culture
  • Examine ways in which the arts are influenced by local and global culture

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