Brazilian Samba Schools

Everyone seems to know "how to samba" in Brazil




In this article: how the samba schools began, samba schools history

Related tags: brazilian samba schools, samba schools rio, rio samba schools, brazilian carnival, vila isabel samba school, how to samba, samba dance


What Is a Samba School

The is a dancing school often performing in huge "quadras de samba" devoted in performing samba -- a specific African-Brazilian dance that brings together people from all lifestyles. The samba schools in Rio are the main reason for the Carnival's existence and are almost always associated with neighborhoods.

Each samba school has various events throughout the year, most important of which are rehearsals for the main event, the Carnival, promoted as "the greatest show on Earth."

The samba parades during the Brazilian Carnival are a showcase of each school displaying their colorful costumes and expressing their view on a social or international issue, or simply paying homage to a historic event, figure or myth.

The Brazilian Carnival parades allow millions of people every year to be transported out of their daily routines, even if only for a few moments.

Veterans and female celebrities ("band godmathers") alike often accompany the Brazilian samba schools and reflect traditional samba schools developed since the early 1930s.


Samba Schools in Rio

Because samba schools originated in Rio de Janeiro, the Rio schools produce, obviously, the most spectacular parades and are also the most famous ones among other Brazilian samba schools. Nearly all Brazilian cities have samba schools nowadays, consisting almost entirely in community volunteer work, unlike other parades around the world.

Also, many Brazilian cities have their own Sambadromes -- special areas for the parading of samba schools. Rio de Janeiro is home to over a hundred samba schools, with 12 making it to the "Special Group," a place of pride for many (details below). The origins of samba schools in Rio go way back to 1929, when the first parades were more exclusive events, exhibited by rich people and using to have, guess what, white revelers.

reveller of brazilian samba school
In the picture above, a reveller of the Beija-Flor samba school

In the major Brazilian cities, the parade of a samba school takes about an hour of pure ecstasy, the school usually representing, fashion-wise, the working-class community from where it's rooted, also known as a "favela". Beautiful Brazilian women, swinging hips, spectacular costumes and, sometimes, no costumes at all! -- the Samba Parade continues year after year to delight our eyes. Celebrities such as Fergie and Jennifer Lopez were present this year at the Sambadrome to enjoy the grand show.

Although you're not allowed to go naked at the Carnival, a little glitter and some body paint would do the trick. See Rio Carnival 2011. However, that alone won't make a samba school win the competition. The overall theme, the costumes, the dance, the music, the floats and other things would be carefully judged when selecting the 14 best samba schools in Rio, the elite or "Grupo Especial," as they are called.


Rio Carnival 2012 Video

Below, the most important scenes at the Brazilian Carnival this year. Click to watch.

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 Scenes from Rio Carnival 2012, the greatest show on Earth. Switch to 720p for HD.


Vila Isabel Samba School

Founded by Antonio Fernandes de Silveira in 1946, the Unidos de Vila Isabel samba school is today one of the most famous samba schools in Rio. Located at Av. 28 de Setembro, 382, it took them 40 years to finally become the Carnival Champions, in 1988. The Unidos de Vila Isabel Samba performers worked the crowd perfectly and thus became part of that Grupo Especial that performs at the Carnival each year.

Vila Isabel samba school is located in the small Village of Isabel in Rio de Janeiro. Its representative colors are peach and white. The community of Village Isabel devoted their time and efforts over the past years towards achieving one single goal: to make their samba school successful and popular.

drum queen sabrina sato of vila isabel
In the picture above, drum quen Sabrina Sato of the Vila Isabell samba school

Singing for peace and celebration, flirting with the people's hearts, Vila Isabel samba school has a "batteria" of 300 drummers that invite people to dance, to sing, to samba! Vila Isabel performers are truly kings and kings doing their celebration dance.

According to interviewed drum queens, being a samba dancer could be the best thing in the world. I would just go ahead and make a bold statement right now: the eight wonder of the world is the Brazilian Carnival!


Top Samba Schools in Rio

The so-called "Grupo Especial" consisting of top 14 samba schools in Rio are the elite dancers of the Carnival. Mangueira is among the largest samba school to welcome its visitors to the practice halls for regular samba nights. Below is a list of Brazilian samba schools, some having their own website, from where you can learn more if interested.

  1. Beija-Flor: www.Beija-Flor.com.br
  2. Caprichosos de Plares
  3. Grande Rio: www.AcademicosDoGranderio.com.br
  4. Imperatriz Leopoldinense: www.ImperatrizLeopoldinense.com.br
  5. Imperio Serrano
  6. Mangueira: www.Mangueira.com.br
  7. Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel: www.GresMocidade.com.br
  8. Portela: www.GresPortela.com.br
  9. Porto da Pedra
  10. Rocinha: www.AcademicosDaRocinha.com.br
  11. Salgueiro: www.Salgueiro.com.br
  12. Unidos da Tijuca
  13. Unidos do Viradouro: www.GresuViradouro.com.br
  14. Vila Isabel: www.GresunidosDeVilaIsabel.com.br

They say you haven't lived until you've been to Rio for the Carnival. And for good reason!



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