By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The “desfile do Grupo de Acesso” (Access School parade) provides not only an entertaining evening and an ideal introduction for any Carnival novices, but an affordable alternative for those who may be unable to splash out on a ticket to the coveted Special Group’s performance. The Access Group of samba schools are the category ranked just below the Grupo Especial (Special Group) but still an impressive level of music, costume and performance.
Taking place on Saturday, February 18th, from 8PM until 5AM at the Sambódromo, the group is comprised of nine schools, all of whom amass a remarkable array of history, talent and sheer determination. Following the judging, the lucky winner and runner up will be promoted to the Special Group for next year.
8PM – Paraiso do Tuiuti: Hailing from the region of São Cristóvão in Rio state, the school will open the parade with their enredo (theme) “Clara Nunes – A Tal Mineira” (“Clara Nunes – A girl from Mineiro”). Nunes was a highly celebrated Brazilian singer and Music Researcher during the sixties, seventies and early eighties and represented Brazil on a number of trips to Africa.
9PM – Rocinha: an understudy of Vila Isabel from the Special Category, represents the neighborhood of São Conrado but originated in the Rocinha favela community. This year’s enredo is called “Vou colocar teu nome na praça” (“I’ll put your name in the square”), depicting Brazil’s progression from the time of their Portuguese ancestors up until the present day.
10PM – Estácio de Sá: represents the region of Estácio in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone). The school enjoyed a fairly successful run in the Special Group for most of the nineties but was later demoted to the Access Group in 1997 where it has since remained. This year’s enredo is called “Luma de Oliveira: Coração de um país em festa!” (“Luma de Oliveira: Heart of a country Party!”).
11PM – Inocentes de Belford Roxo: A fairly new school from the São Vicente neighborhood, the name means “Lambs.” Having not yet managed to break into the Special Group they hopes to improve their position with this year’s enredo “Corumbá – Ópera Tupi Guaikuru,” which focuses on the voice of Brazil’s people and its rich History.
12AM – Império da Tijuca: Representing the neighborhood of Tijuca in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone), the school will be championing the human mind and its various creations with the enredo “Utopias, viagem aos confins da imaginação,” meaning “Utopias – A traveling beyond the imagination.”
1AM – Viradouro: One of the oldest Escolas de Samba (Samba Schools) from the region of Niterói, Viradouro spent twenty years in the Special Group before being demoted to the Access Group in 2010. The club no doubt hopes to reposition itself this year with the enredo “A Vida Como Ela é, Bonita mas Ordinária… Assim Falou Nelson Rodrigues” in relation to Brazilian journalist, writer and playwright, Nelson Rodrigues.
2AM – Santa Cruz: The pride of its neighborhood Santa Cruz, in the West of Rio. This school has only experienced the Special Group three times. Nevertheless, its current theme “Nas ondas do rádio… Acorda Brasil para escutar! O Show do Antônio Carlos está no ar” (“On the airwaves… Wake up Brazil To Listen! The Show Is On the Air Antonio Carlos”) could secure a promotion again.
3AM – Império Serrano: It credits competitor “Império da Tijuca” as its godmother school despite the fact that it does, in fact, hail from Mandueira in the North of Rio. This will be Império Serrano’s third year in the Access Group, performing the theme “Dona Ivone Lara: O enredo do meu samba” concerning Dona Ivone, famous Brazilian singer and songwriter.
4AM – Cubango: is another school from Niterói who enjoyed a long running success in the Special Group during the sixties, seventies and eighties. Since then it has switched between the Access Group and the second division but hopes to impress the judges with this year’s enredo “Barão de Mauá – Sonho de um Brasil Moderno.” The story will examine the changing face of Brazil throughout history.