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By Bruno De Nicola, Senior Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – The 2010 samba school technical rehearsals started at the Sambodrome, a thrilling weekend of cheerful parades lightened up the Sapocaí Avenue.

G.R.E.S. Unidos do Porto da Pedra, photo by Ygorrj359/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.
G.R.E.S. Unidos do Porto da Pedra, photo by Ygorrj359/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

Last Saturday night G.R.E.S. Unidos do Porto da Pedra, the gremio from São Gonçalo (just north of Niterói) showed some new moves to the many Cariocas dancing on the stadium’s bleachers. The youngest samba school in the top series is focused on taking home its first title this year.

Porto da Pedra is a very young samba school compared to the other popular schools, the red and white gremio from the other side of the Guanabara Bay, was founded just 31 years ago, in 1978. The school used to be a soccer team and still boasts the symbol of a roaring tiger.

For many years the red and white tiger won São Gonçalo’s own carnival contest, proving itself ready to face Rio de Janeiro’s traditional schools. In the early 90’s, Porto da Pedra moved into the Carioca league but has struggled to bring home its first Sambodrome title.

The technical rehearsals that started last weekend aren’t quite the real thing, but they are surely worth watching. Before the two big February nights of Carnival, samba schools get a chance to line up their troops and practice for their dancing march through the Sambodrome stadium.

There are no costumes or floats during rehearsals, but the audience gets a thrill from the amazing dancing and singing from each beloved school. Entrance is free for the rehearsals, and on Sundays, samba parties continue late into the night after the last rehearsal.

Last weekend opened the 2010 carnival season and many fans and curious onlookers turned out to watch with Imperatriz Leopoldinense opening the Friday January 8th parades, followed by Portela and Porto da Pedra the day after.

Porta Da Pedro in 2008, photo by Luciano Guelfi/Flickr Creative Commons License.
Porta Da Pedra in 2008, photo by Luciano Guelfi/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Salgueiro and Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel, closed the first weekend of school rehearsals with enthusiasm Sunday, January 10th.

This weekend other great samba school rehearsals are expected: from Rio de Janeiro’s top series União da Ilha will be parading on Saturday the 16th, while Grande Rio and Viradouro will be marching on Sunday, January 17th.

Event calendars fill up as we get closer to Carnaval, and Porto da Pedra has a busy schedule for January. Every Sunday night at the Club Mauá in São Gonçalo there is a school rehearsal. On January 15th, the Tiger is hosting a Funk party at its facility on Avenida Lúcio Tomé Feteira. On the 24th, and also having a street rehearsal in São Gonçalo’s neighborhood, Paraíso.

To get to São Gonçalo you can take a van or a bus from the ferry-boat terminal in Niteroi, the satellite city on the other side of the Guanabara bay, where the Contemporary Art Museum (MAC) is. For further information, please check out Porto da Pedra’s website.

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