By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — Carnival 2013 champions, G.R.E.S. Unidos de Vila Isabel, known as Vila Isabel for short, is known for its famous supporters and samba composers that attribute to the schools enredo (theme) each year. Returning to defend their title in Carnival 2014, Vila Isabel will be the third samba school from the Grupo Especial (Special Group) division to parade down the Sambódromo on Monday, March 3rd.
Established in 1946, Vila Isabel began as a soccer club in the district of Vila Isabel in the Zona Norte (North Zone) of Rio. It then went on to be a bloco before Antonio Fernandes da Silveira, best known as ‘China’, registered the school officially as Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba (G.R.E.S) and became Vila Isabel’s first president.
Since then the school has gone on to win three victories including last year with the enredo of “A Vila canta o Brasil, celeiro do mundo – água no feijão que chegou maps um” (“The Vila sings Brazil, the world’s breadbasket – add more water to the beans, one more has arrived”) lead by carnavelsca (carnival designer) Rosa Magalhães and famous musician Arlindo Cruz.
Throughout Vila Isabel’s long history they have had support from many great samba composers. They mainly pay tribute to the legendary Noel Rosa, whose birthplace was in Vila Isabel, which is often referred to by members of the community as “povo de Noel” (Noel’s people).
There is a statue of Rosa at the base of the community in front of the quadra (rehearsal hall). Though Rosa died of tuberculosis in 1934 before the school was established, he is very influential to the school and to the rest of Brazil.
This year’s theme lead by carnavalesco Cid Carvalho is “Retrato do um Brasil Plural” or “Portraits of Diversity in Brasil”. Fans and supporters should expect a parade paying homage to the protection of Brazil’s nature and ‘soul’ and the man behind advocating for this protection, Chico Mendes.
After leaving Vila Isabel voluntarily last year, Carvalho returned to the school this year and is ready to win a second consecutive championship.
Television personality, Sabrina Sato, will lead the bateria (drum line) again for the fourth time as the rainha de bateria (queen of drums). Sato is one of the most well-known celebrities out of the group of rainhas in Grupo Especial.
The school has open rehearsals each Saturday night at 10PM. An upcoming technical rehearsal at the Sambódromo will take place on Sunday, February 23rd at 9:30 PM. This is an event not to be missed as all members of the parade will be rehearsing (without costume) as if they’ll be parading through the Sambódromo for the main event.
For dedicated fans of Vila Isabel, there is an option to purchase a custom made costume that goes along with the theme of this year by contacting costume director Alex Varela on (21) 9988-78503. Costume photos and information can be found on their Facebook page.
G.R.E.S. Unidos de Vila Isabel
Rehearsals: Saturdays at 10PM
Address: 382 Boulevard Vinte e Oito de Setembro, Vila Isabel, Rio de Janeiro
Phone: (21) 2578-0077