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Parts of a Samba School

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Rio Sambodromo (low K)
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Passarela do Samba Professor Darcy Ribeiro – Sambódromo
Rua Marquês de Sapucaí, s/n – Praça Onze – Cidade Nova
  • Sambódromo the world's greatest parade stadium was built in 1984 and can hold nearly  70,000 people for its shows. It is near a subway station and close to Praça Onze  the historic birthplace of the Carnaval

  • The two days on Carnaval Sunday and Monday where the 12 "special" member samba schools compete for the championship is the great climax to Rio's Carnaval season that no one wants to miss but there are amazing parades throughout the season ending with the Parade of Champions on the Saturday after Carnaval

  • The best seats and highest prices are near the center and in most sections arriving early will assure you a better seat. The show goes all night so come prepared

  • Besides the Samba Avenue there is also a Carnaval Museum and events through out the year. catwalk, the Sambadrome also hosts the Carnival Museum and many cultural, educational and sporting events during the year. [more]

Parts of a Samba School

Below links go to a google machine translation of the
Portuguese page. Click through to learn about important personalities associated with each of the roles.

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 carnival parade.

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,’

Bateria (bah-teh-ree-ya) can be applied to any percussion ensemble but only in Rio does the rhythm reach the size of large orchestras with more than 200 players. The 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

Destaques [stand-outs] 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 Praça Onze  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,
"We had there a bloco and there were also the blocos of Tia Tomasia and Mestre Candinho. They were organised blocos. We were disorganised, parading anyhow."
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 the School.


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