The first parades of Rio's top samba schools ended late this morning (Feb 12).
The show was marked by an incident with the sixth float of Grande Rio, shortly before it was to join the parade. Unlike what happened last year, no one was injured. The problem affected the section entitled Carnival in My Life. One of the wheels got stuck as it entered the Sambódromo.
“It was really a beautiful section for the school, but things like this happen,” Grande Rio Director Gilliard Castro remarked.
Jorge Castanheira, head of the Samba School League of Rio de Janeiro, argues that no punishment should come as a result of such an incident if it takes place before the float reaches the parade per se.
Regarding the number of floats, Castanheira said, “I was told they had five floats. If it's true, then it's still allowed.”
Paraíso do Tuiuti
The first day was also marked by political issues in song lyrics. Samba school Paraíso do Tuiuti addressed a delicate topic: Is slavery in Brazil really over? Also criticized were labor exploitation in the field and in mines, and the recent changes in the country's labor laws.
Mangueira cheered the public by referencing the cut in the funds earmarked by the city hall for the samba school and the current model of schools, which still rely heavily on significant amounts of money to ensure production. The school paid tribute to popular Carnival festivities and a number of traditional blocos—as the famous street parties during Carnival are known—in Rio de Janeiro, among which Bafo da Onça, Cacique de Ramos, and Cordão da Bola Preta.
São Clemente honored the Escola de Belas Artes, attended by renowned Carnival artist Jorge Silveira. The samba school is based in Botafogo, in the upscale south of Rio, and referenced Debret (a member of the French Artistic Mission in Brazil, early in the 19th century) and his significant influence in Brazilian arts. Also alluded to was the participation of former students and professors who worked for the samba school and helped make history in Rio's Carnival.
Unidos de Vila Isabel highlighted major environment-related topics. Their theme song Corra que o futuro vem aí (Portuguese for “Run, the future is coming!”) argues for the preservation of the environment. Carnival artist Paulo Barros was regarded as daring in his choice of exuberant floats with a large number of moving parts throughout the spectacle.
Império and Mocidade
The two schools talked about traditional habits and influences from overseas in Brazil. In its show, Império Serrano told the story of the travels of Marco Polo, the world-famous explorer who witnessed and described the trade with distant Asian countries in the Middle Ages, especially China.
Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel, from western Rio, paraded with a song referencing the influence of India in Brazil. The spectacle showed fruits and plants from the Asian subcontinent that were brought over and are grown in Brazil, among them the mango, the jackfruit, and the sugarcane, from which alcohol and sugar—products that play a crucial role in Brazilian economy—are extracted. Mocidade's parade ended in the early hours of Monday.
The remaining six top-ranking schools are to parade tonight and are likely to stretch their show into the wee hours. This year's winning samba school will be announced on Wednesday (14).
According to official figures, 1,079 revelers were provided with health assistance from the moment the shows started in Rio de Janeiro on Friday (9) to this morning, at health care stations in the Sambódromo.
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira