Today is the first day of Carnival in Brazil...Every year each samba school choose their song, compose the lyrics and choreograph their dance. About 2-3 weeks before Carnival, the samba schools bring their rehearsal party (bloco) to the streets in their neighrborhood. I'm rooting for Portela Samba School, because it was my first bloco to attend and photograph...click on the link to check out their song.
Brief history: The first escolas de samba formed was Mangueira, in 1928. Soon theme songs, elaborate costumes, and floats became the main attraction of Rio Carnival. Many other teams from different communities in the Rio neighborhood followed Mangueira’s footsteps and formed samba schools to take part in the Carnival. Samba parades soon became the most popular event in Rio with the organizers being forced to set a time limit for each team in 1971.
The streets of Rio remained the main stage for the Carnival until 1984, when the Sambadrome was built by world famous architect, Oscar Niemeyer. Many of the current samba schools have their roots in the original schools of the 20’s and 30’s.
In the approaching weeks of Carnaval samba schools (and some neighborhoods) bring their performance to the streets for rehearsal. In the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro, a neighborhood called Madureira, I followed the samba school of Portela, one of the oldest schools (with several name changes) in Rio. It once was one of the very best schools, winning 21 times, an all-time record, however the school is trying to reclaim its glory self. We'll see at this year's Carnaval.