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By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On the second night of Rio’s famous Grupo Especial (Special Group) Carnival samba school parades on Monday, February 16th, the Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Beija-Flor school from Nilópolis is scheduled to enter the Sambódromo as the third school at 11:10 PM.

Rainha de bateria, Raíssa de Oliveira, has been with  Beija-Flor since she was twelve, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Rainha de bateria, Raíssa de Oliveira, has been with Beija-Flor since she was twelve, photo by Nelson Perez/Riotur.

Beija-Flor (meaning hummingbird) was founded as a Carnival bloco in the Baixada Fluminense city of Nilópolis in 1948. It was only five years after the popular local bloco turned itself into a samba school that they managed to parade in Rio’s 1954 Carnival for the first time.

Beija-Flor de Nilópolis, as it is often referred as, spent some time in lower groups until they were crowned vice-champion of the former Second Group in 1973 with an enredo (theme) about education. They were promoted to the first division for the next year, but it wasn’t until Joãosinho Trinta took over as carnavalesco (parade designer) in 1976 that the school was really successful.

Trinta brought them their first championship title with his spectacle about the jogo do bicho (meaning animal game, an illegal betting game). He gained fame for his anthological and often provoking parades. His Cristo statue dressed up as a beggar was prohibited to be shown by the Catholic Church and when he let a naked couple parade in homage to Leonardo da Vinci he had to justify it at the police station.

Furthermore, Beija-Flor is known for the commitment of their participants and connection to their town. Trinta stayed with the school for seventeen consecutive years, while Neguinha da Beija-Flor has been singing for them since 1976 and will do so this year. Even the rainha de bateria (queen of the percussion section), which many schools like to change every year, Raíssa de Oliveira, has been with Beija-Flor since she was twelve years old.

Beija-Flor's theme in 2014 centered around TV director Boni, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Beija-Flor’s theme in 2014 centered around TV director Boni, photo by Marco Antonio Cavalcante/Riotur.

Since the arrival of Trinta the samba school has won the championship twelve times, the last time in 2011 when paying tribute to singer Roberto Carlos. They were crowned vice-champion another twelve times, the last one in 2013.

They were always part of the Champions Parade, and therefore included in the best six schools, since 1993 and missed it for the first time last year with a 7th place.

The parade in 2014 had been about TV entrepreneur and director Boni with “O Astro iluminado da comunicação Brasileira” (The illuminated star of Brazilian communication) and brought an innovation to the Sambódromo with an interaction between the first flag-carrying couple and the vanguard group, though it didn’t help to score enough points.

This year, Beija-Flor will, as several other schools, go back to Brazil’s African roots with the enredo: “Um griô conta a história: Um olhar sobre a África e o despontar da Guiné Equatorial. Caminhemos sobre a trilha de nossa felicidade” (A griot [a West African storyteller] tells the story: A look at Africa and the emergence of Equatorial Guinea. Let us walk on the path of our happiness.)

The parade will tell the history of Africa and especially Equatorial Guinea, the biggest oil producer on the continent. The 3,800 components should show the “different Africas that are part of the history of Brazil”, as the description of the theme states.

The school from Nilópolis will sing about “the African king, who never lost faith, he was my brother, son of Guinea” and “rescue my African soul”, but also touch on such things as the arrival of the Portuguese in the country and slavery.

G.R.E.S. Beija-Flor
Rua Pracinha Wallace Paes Leme, 1025 – Nilópolis
Tel: (21) 2791-2866
More information here.

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