The most thrilling place to visit in Rio during the Carnival is the Sambadromo, the true reflection of the Brazilian culture and lifestyle. The parade centers on 12 samba schools competing for victory. Each school has its own large groups of avid followers that are encouraged to dance in accordance with their melody and rhythm. All samba parade elements reflect the overall spirit of carioca-style living and provides all factors necessary for granting points to each school.
The official opening of all festivities starts with the City mayor handing Rio’s key to the Carnival King Momo at his behest. The carnival itself is marked by the presence of many fascinating, talented and passionate samba performers who compete for the Carnival Queen prize.
These groups of beauties turn into the center of attention with their ornate costumes, towering shoes and sophisticated dance rituals. The other two groups of performers are defined as carnival Princesses.
As points are granted on different samba parade elements, team members need to make sure that their performance is delivered effectively and impeccably within the right time frames. Preparations for next year’s carnival usually start immediately after the closing phase of the current year’s carnival.
The samba melody and its predominant theme remain undisclosed until rehearsals begin at their most dynamic rate in December. Besides being the most respected figure among team members, The Carnival Designer, or Carnavalesco, dictates the Carnival’s overall vision and samba parade elements.
The designer defines the carnival’s theme and spirit and is in charge of its costume ideas, float ornaments, predominant songs, accessories, garnishes, rehearsals and much more. Samba parade elements are delivered in the most efficient way so that it can grab the judge’s attention and win the champion’s prize.
The preparation requires months of various activities, including organizing active school supporters from the local community.
The samba parade requires the division of each school into various units, called ‘alas’ or wings, and each of them is made of more than 100 members, distinguished by the same outfit.
Every wing interprets a different role in the program based on the school’s overall theme. The Vanguard Commission, a group of masterful dance performers, heads the spectacle and is typically the first one to grab the judges’ attention.
Each wing has its own president, responsible for the costumes designs and their timely production apart from other samba parade elements.
The president also supervises the precise technique of the dance performances during the parade and coordinates the purchasing of costumes by his own wing.
Among the first masterful dance couples to set their foot on the stadium and bring excitement with their exhilarating performances are the Porta-bandeira or Flag Bearer and her Mestre-Sala or Escort.
The Carnival Queen, the ‘’Rainha’’ of the samba school, elected at a competition, heads the procession in its full dynamics and passion. Floats, ornate in tune with the school’s theme, are located in between each wing. Lavishly dressed dancers stay on top of the floats and depict the creative spirit of the participating schools, accompanied by the school’s celebrity supporters.
The bateria group, fundamental to each school, consists of 250-300 percussionists that provide dynamics and rhythm to the samba performers. A Queen of Drummers is the drummers’ leader and the person who encourages the exhilarated crowds to dance along the samba runway.
Each school has its own sound truck, transporting the most distinguished samba vocalists, performing the theme songs tune with the drummers.
The Passistas, a group of 15-20 samba dancers, are an integral part of the Carnival. They have the privilege to dance along the whole samba strip.
The Passistas are elected at a competition. They dance in accordance with the drum beats and sway in tune with the dynamic samba rhythms. While schools members are parading and viewers are entertaining themselves, the judges are evaluating the performances with the goal of choosing the champion based on different samba school elements. Viewers will find all the teams’ performances brilliant, because of the tremendous amount of work and discipline invested in each of them.
The spirit of the samba song
Samba songs have a unique, uplifting spirit and a tremendous sentimental value. Every carioca is aware of their magical effect, thanks to the influence of eternal samba performers like the deceased Clara Nunez. Samba is an exciting combination of melodies, texts and dance routines.
It is also a product of the Afro-Brazilian spirit brought into the low-class suburbs of Rio after their post-slavery period. Every year, the festival has a different theme which transforms into a samba song.
The topic of the song may vary from politics to sports and history, based on what a schools chooses for a carnival theme. The theme may also center on current affairs, political events or social issues related to Rio and Brazil.
The samba song plays a vital part in the evaluation processes in which melody, rhythm and lyrics are important factors.
It also remains unrevealed to the public until two months before the festival begins and copies get finally distributed to people.
When you visit Sambadrome during the Rio Carnival, you should listen carefully to the song’s magical lyrics and characteristics.
The excitement of being a viewer at Sambadromo
If you want to immerse completely into the event’s atmosphere, you can confidently join one of the numerous revelers at Sambaderomo for an exposure to the dynamic play of costumes, floats and dancers, all in tune with the samba rhythm.
The number of seats at the Sambadromo is 70,000 and they are not sufficient to accommodate the millions of people who desire to indulge themselves in the tantalizing spectacle of costumes, dances and ideas that characterize the Rio Carnival.
The stadium‘s seating options vary from open boxes to seats and air-conditioned spaces, all typically reserved before the New Year’s period. Make sure you reserve your tickets and favorite school’s costumes at your earliest convenience if you want to take part in the dynamic Sambadromo and experience its most thrilling samba parade elements.