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By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Samba school Paraíso do Tuiuti will be the first of twelve schools to perform in the Grupo Especial (Special Group) parades in this year’s Carnival competition. The school is set to make their mark on the 2017 competition at 10PM on Sunday, February 26th, kicking off the performances for Sunday evening.

Paraíso do Tuiuti, photo by Eduardo Hollanda. Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro, Carnival, Carnival 2017, samba schools, samba parade competitiom, Special Group
Paraíso do Tuiuti, photo by Eduardo Hollanda.

This year is Paraíso do Tuiuti’s return to the Grupo Especial parade competition, after four consecutive years in Série A. Speaking to G1, the school’s carnavalesco (Carnival designer) Jack Vasconcelos, said the school is determined to stay in the Grupo Especial.

“We want to break this prejudice of being the school that comes from Série A,” explained Vasconcelos. “We know the difficulty of scoring high marks as the first school to perform, but we want to break this taboo.”

Determined to stay in Rio’s top bracket of samba schools, Vasconcelos drew inspiration for this year’s Carnival theme from the 1960’s tropicalia movement. Central to the school’s plot for their 2017 parade entry, named ‘Carnavaleidoscópio tropifágico’, are legendary tropicalia proprietors Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil.

Involved in 1960’s hippie and Black Power movements, and influenced by the Beatles’ musical debut, Paraíso do Tuiuti’s entry tells the story of how Veloso and Gil combined these artistic influences with the inspiration they found in the natural paradise of Brazil’s interior.

The school will focus on bringing to life the tropical paradise that helped inspire the tropicalia movement, as well as its cultural influences from the USA and Europe. Brightly colored outfits will emphasize the fruits, flowers and fauna that made Portuguese settlers feel they had arrived in paradise.

Paraíso do Tuiuti's 2016 performance, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Agência Brasil. Brazil, Brazil News, rio de Janeiro, Carnival, Carnival 2017, Grupo Especial, SPecial Group, sambódromo
Paraíso do Tuiuti’s 2016 performance, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Agência Brasil.

Vasconcelos hopes that costumes presenting hybrid animal forms will help the audience think about how our influences enter into our reality. “We are a big kaleidoscope,” he told G1. “We end up absorbing all the influences that surround us and produce what is more Brazilian, which is precisely this lack of definition.”

The school will also pay tribute to artist Hélio Oiticica, who, inspired by the tropicalia movement and Rio’s favelas, created parangolés (paintings to be worn whilst dancing samba), as well as tropicalia aficionados Chacrinha, Carmem Miranda and Fernando Pinto.

Dancers Vinícius Pessanha and Jackeline Pessanha, whose performance in last year’s parade won the school further prestige, will perform again this year with Paraíso do Tuiuti’s flag, which is yellow and blue flag with a crown emblem at its centre.

Paraíso do Tuiuti samba school comes from Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone), from Tuiuti favela in the São Cristóvão neighborhood. The school’s history stretches back to the 1930’s, and formally adopted their current name in 1954.

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.

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