By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Formed in Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) in 1955, samba school Mocidade Independente do Padre Miguel this year takes its inspiration from the area’s notorious heat, as if competes in Rio’s 2017 Carnival parades at the Sambódromo.
The school, finding parallel stars in the Moroccan national flag and its own green-and-white flag, hopes to become this year’s champion of the Grupo Especial (Special Group) for the first time since 1996.
While Rio basks in the summer heat, the 40C temperatures in the Zona Oeste are often higher than the rest of the city. Seeing a similarity in Padre Miguel neighborhood’s climate with the desert climate of Marrakesh, Carnavalescos (Carnival designers) Alexandre Louzada and Edson Pereira began to make cultural links between Rio and Morocco.
The school’s enredo (plot) this year will bring audiences on a journey from the Zona Oeste to Marrakesh, in a story titled ‘As mil e uma noites de uma Mocidade pra lá de Marrakesh’ (A thousand and one nights of Mocidade to Marrakesh).
Travelling by magic carpet, camel and caravan, Mocidade will show the stories, treasures and culture of Marrakesh. Characters will include Sherazade, Sinbad, Ali Baba and Aladdin, with tales of trading spices, dishes, rugs and other luxuries in Morocco’s bazaars, which the school’s Carnavalescos also compare to Rio’s Saara.
The school will also include the legacy of the University of Riyadh, which strengthened Morocco’s academic expertise in astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, surgical medicine and culture.
Costumes will capitalise on the school’s signature green, but will also use lots of gold to evoke Morocco’s cultural wealth as well as bright colours, prints, lames and sequins. Meanwhile, the floats will show palaces, medinas, squares and gardens, displaying Marrakesh’s splendour.
“We want to take Mocidade again to the oasis of joy. Brazil has a very strong cultural integration with Morocco,” Louzado said to G1, explaining how Carnival legend Joaõsinho Trinta would take samba schools to Morocco every New Year’s Eve. “We want to restore this union, and there’s nothing more appropriate that bringing the hottest samba battery in Brazil to Marrakesh.”
Louzada said that Mocidade’s display is a call for tolerance and peace across different cultures, showing the value of cultural co-existence and exchange. “We go in search of this place, [which is] so hot, to show that there is no greater heat than the human warmth of the people of Vila Vintém,” he said.
Mocidade Independente, though having competed in the Grupo Especial competition for decades, hasn’t won a title since 1997, when it was last crowned vice-champion. This year, it also faced some difficulties when its rainha da bateria (Samba queen) recently stepped down due to health problems.
Be sure to stay with The Rio Times to learn more about the other competing schools, winners and additional events during this year’s Carnival.