By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Established in 1988, G.R.E.S. Acadêmicos do Grande Rio is one of the younger samba schools competing in the Grupo Especial (Special Group) but they are also often among the highest ranked. Best known simply as Grande Rio, they will enter the Sambódromo as the fourth school to parade on February, 11th, the second night of the Carnival championship competition.
Grande Rio first earned a place in the Grupo Especial in 1990 when they presented the Enredo (Theme), “Why I am Carioca [a Rio native].” However the following year they finished sixteenth place and were demoted back to the Access group.
In 1992 with their presentation of the Enredo of “Clear Waters for a Black King”, they again won the Access Group regaining a position in the Grupo Especial, which they have maintained since.
In 2001, the famous Joãosinho Trinta took on the position of Grande Rio’s Carnavalesco (Carnival Designer) and lead the school for four years.
Unfortunately, Trinta failed to reproduce the same success for the school as he had with G.R.E.S. Salgueiro and G.R.E.S. Beija-Flor in the 1970s and 1980s. Grande Rio’s highest placement during Trinta’s term was third place in 2003.
In 2004, Roberto Szaniecki took over the position of Carnavalesco and lead the school to third place finishes twice and then to two back-to-back Vice-championships (second place) in 2006 and 2007. Vice-champion is the closest the school has come to championship thus far in their short history.
This year Roberto Szaniecki returns, as Grande Rio will present the theme, “I love Rio and I will Fight: Black Gold [Oil] without dispute… Against injustice in defense of Rio.”
The theme addresses the new law for distributing oil royalties received in Rio de Janeiro state, amongst all Brazilian states. The debate over the legislation saw the city streets of Rio fill with protesters on several occasions in recent years.
The school’s website explains the intent of the theme by saying “G.R.E.S. Acadêmicos do Grande Rio inspired by their love of Rio de Janeiro comes together to create their own manifesto in favor of the popular debate which focuses on Rio’s rights to benefit from oil production in our state. Rio de Janeiro produces 83 percent of all existing oil in the nation. We deserve the bonus!”
Grande Rio’s procession this year will begin with the Comissão de Frente (Front Commission) paying homage to the off-shore deep water oil platform. The theme will then go on to address the products that come from oil and then on to the labor in the oil industry.
The parade will also address the environmental concerns that come with will deep watering drilling during the exploration for and extraction of oil from the pre-sal. The theme ends with the argument that royalties gained in state should be kept in Rio.
This year the school will feature model and stage assistant of the show ‘Domingão Faustão’, Carla Prata, as the Rainha da Bateria (Queen of the Drums). Headquartered on Almirante Barroso street, Grande Rio is a representative of Rio’s satellite city of Duque de Caxias, the third most populated area in Rio state.
The school will also host “Feijoadíssima da Grande Rio 2013″, a feijoada to benefit the school that will feature special guests, Preta Gil and Arlindo Cruz. Tickets are R$200 and can be purchased at the school’s barracão (Carnival industrial workshop). They hold their normal weekly rehearsals there on Tuesdays at 9PM, see the website below for more details.
G.R.E.S. Acadêmicos do Grande Rio
Rehearsals: Tuesdays 9PM
Rua Wallace Soares, 5 and 6, Centro – Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: (21) 2671-3585