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By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school will parade fifth on the second day of Grupo Especial (Special Group) samba parades. The school is scheduled to make its entrance to the Sambódromo on Monday, February 16th at around 1:20 AM.

Imperatriz are known for their original and luxurious parades, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News, Carnival.
Imperatriz are known for their original and luxurious parades, photo by Fernando Maia/Riotur.

Imperatriz Leopoldinense is a samba school from the Ramos neighborhood in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone). It was founded in March 1959 by Amaury Jório and several members of the former samba school Recreio de Ramos.

Jório offered his house as headquarters, making Imperatriz the first school with a fixed location and even bought the first thirty instruments for the bateria (percussion section), an impressive number at the time.

The name of the school was given as homage to Empress Dona Leopoldina von Habsburg, the first wife of Emperor Dom Pedro I, but also inspired by the Leopoldina train line that went through the neighborhood.

The region around the Leopoldina school has been a traditional nucleus of Brazilian pop culture and an important samba region as well, rivaling the better known area around the Central station.

Imperatriz is famous for their original and luxurious parades and is the only school in Rio de Janeiro, which obtained the maximum score in all categories three times in 1980, 1989 and 2001. The school won the Carnival championship a total of eight times and featured parades of renowned carnavalescos (Carnival parade designers) such as Arlindo Rodrigues, Max Lopes, Viriato Ferreira and Rosa Magalhães.

In 2014, Imperatriz paid homage to football player Zico, who participated in the parade, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
In 2014, Imperatriz paid homage to football player Zico, who participated in the parade, photo by Marco Antonio Cavalcante/Riotur.

Last year, Imperatriz showed a parade in homage to famous football (soccer) player Zico. Zico, whose real name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra, is still very popular in Brazil for being a successful midfielder for Flamengo, as well as the Brazilian national team. He participated in the parade, which brought the fifth place to the samba school.

This year, the parade theme is allegedly also inspired by football, as the incident of racism against Brazilian national team player Daniel Alves in a game between his side Barcelona and Villareal motivated the school’s president.

Therefore, Imperatriz’s parade is a stand against racism and will treat topics such as Brazil’s African roots, slavery and will also be a homage to Nelson Mandela with the enredo (theme): “Axé-Nkenda – Um ritual de liberdade – E que a voz da liberdade seja sempre a nossa voz” (Axé-Nkenda [Axé-love] – A freedom ritual – and may the voice of freedom always be our voice).

The synopsis of the theme states “We were subjected to various types of colonialism. We learned the most dramatic ways to respect the “lord”. The worst was racism – a straight line between the ruler and the ruled. They enforced a new ethnicity, religions, obligations, devotions and an economy. We were enslaved to technology in the name of a ‘civilized’ world.”

The parade will show an African savannah, Zulu warriors and a float depicting Nelson Mandela’s fight for freedom at the end. It will also feature eight passinho dancers, as the Brazilian funk dance has many similarities to traditional African dances and brings some contemporary flair to the Sambódromo.

G.R.E.S. Imperatriz Leopoldinense
Rua Professor Lacê, 235 – Ramos
Tel: (21) 2560-8037

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