|Each school performing in the
Sambódromo begins with the
Commission de frente, which is the first wing.
Also called the abre-alas (ah-bree ah-la )the
group is made up of 10 to 15 people only, and they are the ones
who make the first impression with some of the most dramatic
costumes and beautiful choreographic dances as it introduces the
theme and sets up the evolution of the pageantry to follow.
Carro de Alegoríco - (cah-hoo
day ah-leh-goh-ree-koo) a parade float. Rio
carnival parades must have at least 5 floats. The Abre Alas
float is the very first float.
Enredo - (ehn-heh-doo):
Each samba school writes a new
samba enredo or theme song for each years carnival that
fits its story. Everyone in the school learns this song and
sings it as they parade.
Carnavalescos are the artistic director and
designer of the carnival samba parade. This person usually
designs the costumes, floats, and sequence of groups in the
The porta-bandeira [porta
bandayeera] is the "flag bearer" of the samba school
wearing a very elaborate and ornate hoop dress. She must always
treat the flag with great reverence and not allow the flag to
roll. She dances with the mestre-sala ["ballroom master"]
, who is supposed to draw everyone’s attention to ‘his queen,’
can be applied to any percussion ensemble but only in Rio does
the rhythm reach the size of large orchestras with more than 200
Rainha of the bateria ["Queen of the
Percussion Orchestra" prohounced hyeenya da batareeya].
This principal female dancer selected to dance at the head of
the Bateria is also chosen for their physical beauty as well as
their ability to bring enthusiasm to the players. The Bateria.
Madrinha of the batteria are usually media
figures, who become associated with a school.
Director of batteria is the conductor and musical
director or the most important person associated with the
success of the group
are highlighted on floats. These floatees can have the most
luxurious and expensive costumes that can be extremely heavy as
well as very little but a well-toned body, thong bottom,
and a lot of sparkle!
Passista is a girl solo
dancer who is younger and unmarried (symbolically). She is
chosen to for her excellent skills in dancing to the samba beat
of the bateria. When an ala of passistas dance in front of
bateria and they are accompanied by Ritmistaa - (reet-mee-sta)
who are talented male dancers playing their pandeiros who
court the passistas, performing intricate dance steps all the
while juggling their drums.
Baianas A mandatory
presence is the
Ala of baianas . This is a wing of the samba
school entry that includes at least 100 females only.
Predominantly older ladies who have been supporters of the
school for many years. The distinctive large hoop skirt costume
reflects the colonial period of Brazilian history, worn by the
matriarchs of African-Brazilian society.
|Velha Guards [gwar-dah
vel-yah "veterans" ]The veterans of the
school of samba - comprising ex-presidents, ex-mestres,
ex-baianas who are given great respect Velha
Guards do not wear costumes but dress in formal festive
wear and are the last ala to appear. They honor the
tradition and the memory of a square called
where groups of youths
would come down from the hills on foot, to celebrate
Carnaval. Mangueira can claim that theirs is the
oldest samba school, but not the first as that honor
belongs to Deixa Falar which was founded in April 1926.
Deixa Falar was disbanded and later refounded as Estacio
de Sa. Angenor de Olivera,
founder of Mangueira (better known as Cartola) said,
there a bloco and there were also the blocos
of Tia Tomasia and Mestre Candinho. They
were organised blocos. We were disorganised,
|It was on and around the hill of Estacio,
overlooking Little Africa, that the rhythm developed
that we call today 'samba', and here also the big Surdo
drum was invented.
Samba Schools with these
well defined structures only exist in Rio and Sao Paulo but it
is the ideal for which thousands of samba schools elsewhere
strive. The Samba School is a family which hands this samba
culture down through the generations. A School of Samba always
has a President who takes responsibility for the activities of