By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Portela, one of Rio de Janeiro’s best-known samba schools, has been crowned the champion of this year’s Carnival parades. This is the school’s first winning title in 33 years, earning a score this year of 269.9 points with an allegorical story about the importance of water and its relationship to human life.
This is Portela’s 22nd title in its 93-year history, making it Rio’s most frequent Carnival champion. The school was the second last performance in the Grupo Especial (Special Group) competiton, beating Mocidade Independente by just 0.1 points to win the title.
The school’s enredo (plot) displayed legendary and famous rivers from around the world and the legends that accompany them, including the Mississippi, the Nile and Brazil’s own mythical water serpent, Boiúna. The parade also featured water deities such as Iara, as well as paying homage to the recent Mariana environmental disaster.
The school gained high marks across all nine categories of judgement, including costumes, props, enredo, allegories, front commission and flag-bearers. Portela’s leaders were ecstatic with the win. President Luís Carlos Magalhães told G1, “The victory is not only of Portela, it is of all the schools that need to defend the samba flag.”
Adding, “Brazilian culture needs Portela. We are here to cultivate the roots of samba, to form new composers, children.”
The school was joined by dancers and supporters in its Madureira home as the results were revealed, and will perform again at the Champion’s Parade this Saturday with the other five highest-scoring schools.
Unidos da Tijuca and Paraíso do Tuiuti finished in last place, but the Independent League of Rio Samba Schools (LIESA) decided not to relegate the schools for the accidents caused by their floats.