By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Having won Rio’s Carnival parade competition in the second league Série A in 2014, the samba school G.R.E.S. Unidos do Viradouro returns to the top tier this year and will parade down the Sambódromo at 9:30 PM on Sunday, February 15th, as the first of the the Special Group 2015.
The school, known at times simply as Viradouro, was founded in 1946 in Niterói, a municipality located across the Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro.
It wasn’t until 1949 that Viradouro began to parade in the Niterói Carnival competition, a championship separate from the main competition in Rio de Janeiro.
The school remained in Niterói until 1989, when they joined the main competition in Rio. By 1991, they had earned a place in the Special Group and they maintained their position there for two decades.
In 1997, led by famed Carnavalesco (Carnival Designer), Joãosinho Trinta, Viradouro won their first and only Carnival championship to date with the presentation of the theme, “Trevas! Luz! A explosão do universo” (Darkness! Light! The explosion of the universe).
Trinta later left the school in 2000 and by 2011, the school had slipped back into the Access Group (now the Série A group). They remained in that division through 2014.
Things changed last year when, led by Carnavalesco João Vitor Araújo, Viradouro wowed the Carnival judges with the theme, “Sou a Terra de Ismael, ‘Guanabaran’ eu vou Cruzar… Pra Você Tiro o Chapéu, Rio eu vim te Abraçar” (I am Ishmael’s Land, ‘Guanabaran’ … I am going to cross for you. For you I tip my hat. Rio I came to embrace you).
The theme depicted the school’s home in Nitéroi, its history and the school’s journey to and love of Rio de Janeiro. Their presentation earned them the top spot in the Série A group, moving them back into the Special Group for this year.
This year, again led by Araújo, they will present the theme, “Nas Veias do Brasil, É a Viradouro em um Dia de Graça!” (In Brasil´s veins it is Viradouro in a day of grace). Inspired by two songs by Luiz Carlos da Vila, “Nas Veias do Brasil” (In the veins of Brazil) and “Por Um Dia de Graça” (Grace For A Day), the theme chronicles the history of Afro-Brazilians.
As part of this year’s parade, Carol Nakamura, a model and former reporter for the television program, “Domingão Faustão,” will serve as muse. Actor Aíton Graça will also join the school’s parade this year.
“I accepted the invitation and I am very happy to participate in this beautiful event,” Graça recently told O Globo, “I have a special affection for this school, in addition to the fact that the samba is contagious and emotional. There was no way I wouldn’t accept the invitation.”
G.R.E.S. Unidos do Viradouro
Av. do Contorno 16, Barreto, Niterói
Phone: (21) 2624-1804