By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The G.R.E.S. Acadêmicos do Grande Rio will be the last samba school to enter the Sambódromo on the first day of Special Group parades on Sunday, February 15th. The school from Duque de Caxias is expected to make their entrance in the early morning hours.
Grande Rio was formed in the Baixada Fluminense municipality of Duque de Caxias and has its origins in the 1950s. However, it was officially founded in 1988 as the result of the fusion of G.R.E.S. Grande Rio and the Acadêmicos de Duque de Caxias.
The school, therefore known as one of the younger ones, rose fast in Carnival ranks. In their debut in 1989 the school already entered the former Access Group A (today Série A), the second best Carnival league in Rio.
In the following year, in 1990, they even made it to the Special Group for the first time with a parade about Rio de Janeiro. They have been a constant member of the Special Group since 1993 and made it to vice-champion in 2006, 2007 and 2010.
Grande Rio is known for their critical and modern themes and not shying away from controversies. In 2001, their samba dancers held a protest parade against what they perceived to be unfair judgment of the parade performances. In 2013, their chosen theme was about the oil royalties and they showed a car with animals soaked in oil.
Another recurring theme of Grande Rio is the Amazon region. The topic already made it to be the school’s theme four different times, in 1995, 1997, 2006 and 2008.
Last year, Grande Rio paid homage to Maricá, a town situated on the coast of Rio de Janeiro state about twenty kilometers away from Niterói, and approximately 60 kilometers (40 miles) north from the city of Rio. The school made it to sixth place and therefore paraded in the Champions’ Parade.
This year, Grande Rio bring the enredo (theme) “A Grande Rio é do baralho!” (Grande Rio is of a card pack) to the Sambódromo. With the assumption that for many Carnival is a (power) game, the school will explore all different meanings of card games and its symbolism, such as cards as a simple game to pass the time, as a way to win and bet money at poker or to forecast the future with Tarot cards.
In their lively samba they sing (roughly translated): “The game began. It’s me who deals the cards in the Avenida [do Samba]. And in this game of power. I don’t want to know, I play to win.”
Carnvavalesco (Carnival parade designer) Fábio Ricardo, who led the school already last year, wrote the non-sponsored theme himself, describing it as a great topic that he had up his sleeve for a long time.
Together with the traditional rainha de bateria (queen of the percussion section), the school will this year feature a rei (king) with actor, promoter and reporter David Brazil taking over this function. The rainha will be 72-year old actress Susana Vieira.
G.R.E.S. Acadêmicos do Grande Rio
Rua Wallace Soares, 5 and 6, Centro
Duque de Caxias
Tel: (21) 2671-3585