By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Sunday, February 11th, samba school Império Serrano will open the highly anticipated parades of Rio’s 2018 Carnival. Entering the Sambódromo at 9:15 PM, the school will present a samba enredo (thematic samba composition) that honors China and its millennial tradition.

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Winner of the Série A group in Carnival 2017, Império Serrano stars at Grupo Especial on February 11th after eight years of waiting, photo by Fernando Grilli/Riotur.

This Carnival, Império Serrano returns to the top tier Grupo Especial (Special Group) after eight consecutive years of waiting.

The school was crowned the Série A champion last year with the samba enredo “Meu Quintal É Maior do Que o Mundo” (My yard is bigger than the world), honoring Brazilian writer Manoel de Barros and the Pantanal region, in Mato Grosso (Brazil’s Central-West).

Império Serrano was officially founded in 1947 in Serrinha, favela community in Madureira, Zona Norte. However, it was in 1926 that Prazer da Serrinha, the “father” Carnival bloco of Império, was created by Alfredo Costa, Carioca born and raised in Serrinha, renowned character in the samba universe.

Respected samba school among Carnival lovers, Império stands out for being the first to include a female composer, in 1965: Dona Ivone Lara, one of the most important figures in the Carioca samba culture. What’s more, greats like Arlindo Cruz, Silas de Oliveira and Aniceto do Império have already composed some of the most emblematic samba enredos to this school.

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Known for its lively bateria, the samba school from Madureira will bring to Sambódromo this year the history of China and the Silk Road, photo by Raphael David/Riotur.

Among Império’s vast repertoire of classic compositions, some have become true Carnival anthems and are still played nowadays, like “Aquarela Brasileira”, composed by Silas de Oliveira in 1964, “Bumbum Paticumbum Prugurundum”, by Beto sem Braço and Aluísio Machado (1982), and “A Lenda das Sereias, Rainha do Mar”, composed by Vicente Matos, Dinoel and Veloso (1976).

Also known for its lively bateria (the samba school band), called “Sinfônica do Samba” (Samba’s Simphonic), Império Serrano has already been the winner at Grupo Especial for nine times, and four at Série A (including last year’s Carnival).  Império has also been the second placed at Grupo Especial for ten times.

On February 11th, Império Serrano hopes to shine at the Sapucaí with the samba enredo “O Império do Samba na Rota da China” (The Empire of Samba in the Route of China). Composed by Tico do Gato, Chupeta, Henrique Hoffman, Lucas Donato, Arlindinho, Andinho Samara, Victor Rangel, Jefferson Oliveira, Ronaldo Nunes and André do Posto 7, the composition will honor the Imperial China, portraying its traditions and the historical Silk Road.

According to Império Serrano spokesperson, the school also aims to show how Brazil’s cultural universe is highly influenced by China’s inventions and heritage.

“Being back to Grupo Especial is a true relief. It feels like leaving from the bottom of the well after many years,” declares Lucas Donato, one of Império Serrano’s composers to local media outlet VAVEL.

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