By Vânia Maciel, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – G.R.E.S. Academicos do Salgueiro will be the second school parading on Monday, March 7th, the second day of the Sambódromo 2011 Carnival competition. They have always been characterized by their endless energy, innovation and jovial spirit, which has kept the school in the first five for over twenty years.
Much of this innovation can be attributed to Carnavalesco (Carnival designer) Fernando Pamplona during the Sixties. Their winning streak has been consistent except a brief period during the Eighties, but Salgueiro recovered soon enough with excellent finishes, and most recently won the title in 2009.
In order to get a full picture of this colorful samba school it is important to understand their past, and the community where it began. In an area within Tijuca a community took shape in the beginning of the twentieth century, which was the start of Favela do Salgueiro named after a Portuguese landlord called Domingos Alves Salgueiro.
The favela was composed of ex slaves, immigrants from other Brazilian states, as well as Portugal and Italy, and this melange of backgrounds resulted in different folk parties being celebrated and consequently melded into a distinct lively culture unique in the Tijuca of the time.
Many blocos (carnival revelers troupes) were formed and Carnival contest, within the community, were held among them. With time some of the blocos became small samba schools, and soon it was decided that together they could be stronger, so in March 1953 Academicos do Salgueiro was founded.
Some of the best Carnavalescos in Brazil have started with the famed Fernando Pamplona in Salgueiro; Rosa Magalhães, Joâozinho Trinta, Arlindo Rodrigues and Renato Lage, to name a few. The latter is leading this year’s Salgueiro with his wife Márcia Lávia-Lage, and the theme “O Rio no Cinema” (Rio in the Movies), honoring the city as a location for many foreign movies.
Márcia Lávia-Lage explained Salgueiro’s theme for this year as, “The theme idea was a request from Rio’s Mayor Eduardo Paes, he wants to promote the city’s image for the launch of upcoming 3D animated movie Rio, directed by Brazilian Carlos Saldanha of Ice Age series fame.”
Lávia-Lage continued, “Within the theme we opted for a humorous approach and focused on irreverent Brazilian chanchada (slapstick comedy) which often borrowed international elements of history and films.”
She also explained that video cameras will be dotted amidst Salgueiro’s components shooting the viewing public, and the images will be relayed on a big screen at the front of the school in the Abre-alas (aisle-opener) float.
“It is all about humor and having fun. We made sure that our costumes are light and the reveler will be free to dance and enjoy the parade,” said Lávia-Lage.
Salgueiro’s air conditioned quadra is one of the most popular and visited schools, and always gets better as Carnival nears. A taxi ride there should cost under R$40, and admission is usually R$30, for more information visit the website on salgueiro.com.br.