… just in time for Carnaval! While this time of year is celebrated all around the world in various ways, I want to be in Rio de Janeiro so badly that I can taste the feijoada and feel the beat of the samba drum vibrating in my bones.
Beginning tomorrow night and continuing through Tuesday night, a wild, joyful combination of parades, Carnival balls, street parties, and general merrymaking will overtake Rio in the annual celebration that takes place just before Lent, known as Carnival. According to The Encyclopedia of Easter, Carnival & Lent, the country-wide party started with the arrival of the Portuguese in Brazil during the 16th century, when the colonists brought the tradition with them. Over the centuries, the customs changed, particularly with the addition of African cultural influences following the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888, and the development of the samba schools in the 1930s. Things got seriously organized when they built the Sambadromo in 1984, a half-mile long samba stadium that seats about 70,000 spectators. There, the elaborate floats, flag bearers, samba dancers, drummers and singers process down the runway, past the judges and the crowd, representing their community and neighborhood through music, dance and prodigiously-costumed spectacle.
Clearly, I’m not going to make it there in body, but I will get there in spirit, via the library, with these DVDs and CDs from our collection:
- The Black Music of Brazil: A documentary that observes the samba schools as they prepare for Carnival, while also looking at other styles of Afro-Brazilian music.
- Black Orpheus: This 1959 feature film tells the story of Eurydice and Orpheus, set during Carnival in Rio.
- Black Rio Vol. 2, Original Samba Soul 1968-1981: Dance music from the Brazilian soul scene.
- Dance Today! Samba and The Samba Reggae Workout: Learn to dance two different styles of Brazilian samba from Quenia Ribeiro. The first is a Rio-style samba – check out the awesomely ridiculous high heels in the performance segments of the DVD. The second features samba-reggae dance moves. Samba-reggae is a style not from Rio, but from next year’s destination of my heart: Bahia. It’s a combination of Samba and Jamaican Reggae that developed in the 1970s in the city of Salvador. Don’t be confused by the titles, both are a workout!
- Brazil, Bahia: Dance along to more samba-reggae, along with tropicalia and axé, two other styles of Brazilian pop music.
- Grandes Sambistas: featuring Velha Guarda da Portela performing sambas by Wilson Moreira, Nelson Sargento, and others.
- Pure Brazil: Caipirinha: 14 Tracks for Drinking and Dancing: No post featuring Brazilian music would be complete without some bossa novas, whether or not samba rules the day during Carnival. Brazilian music has been heavily influenced by jazz, and this CD features many top performers like Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso.