By Fiona Hurrell, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The 2012 champion samba school G.R.E.S Unidos da Tijuca, has been announced as the third school to parade on Sunday, February 10th in the 2013 Carnival. Having just acquired its third victory in the past 81 years, Unidos da Tijuca is hoping to carry its current momentum through to next year’s parade.
The school’s talent and popularity has steadily increased in recent years as its designs, themes and impressive artwork receive more attention now than ever before.
The school’s new Enredo (Theme) “Desceu num raio, é trovoada! O deus Thor pede passagem para mostrar nessa viagem a Alemanha encantada” brings the mighty god Thor and magical beings such as goblins, fairies, giants and dragons on to the Sapucaí.
The element of fantasy comes from old tales and legends found in Germany, who, like Brazil, is a country rich in mystery and folklore.
Despite being one of the oldest samba schools in the Grupo Especial (Special Group), Unidos da Tijuca has a relatively low count of titles until recently when it wowed the judges with the 2012 winning parade theme “O Dia em Que Toda a Realeza Desembarcou na Avenida para Coroar o Rei Luiz do Sertão”.
Having evaded denotation since 2000, the school has steadily improved its performance and by 2004 it regularly featured within the top three schools overall, going on to secure victory in 2010 and 2012. Much of its later success can be attributed to noted Carnival designer Paulo Barros who was responsible for the schools 2010 and 2012 winning themes along with its current theme for 2013.
As the name would suggest, Unidos da Tijuca hails from Tijuca in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) and its history dates back to a time when slaves inhabited the hilly region in which it now sits.
Its fans will happily attest to its brilliance, especially those who live near its headquarters such as Rose Mendonça who states, “I know all the people there and I get very excited when I see them parade because they are close to my heart.”
This year, the school has chosen Brazilian actress and model Juliana Alves for its Rainha de Bateria (Queen of the Drums). Alves, who first made a name for herself after competing in Big Brother 3, has already served as Rainha to Salgueiro in 2004 and understands the importance of devotion to her school.
Speaking of her joy at being announced Rainha for Unidos da Tijuca, thirty year-old Alves said to O Globo, “Last year when I saw Unidos da Tijuca enter the avenue, I cried with emotion. Guess it was an omen that I would be back here now.”
Likewise, Club president Fernando Horto explained his choice to O Globo, adding that he hoped Alves would remain with the school for a long time. “Juliana fits our profile. Hopefully she will stay with us for many years like a courtship or a lasting marriage.”
Being situated in Tijuca, means Unidos da Tijuca is one of the more accessible schools for anyone in Zona Sul (South Zone) wishing to attend a rehearsal. Currently, rehearsals are taking place every Saturday at the official Quadra (Hall) from 10PM, now until Carnival.