By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – With Carnival approaching fast, technical rehearsals for Rio’s top samba schools will begin mid-month, with free entry for members of the public to watch. Schools from the Grupo Especial (Special Group) and Grupo do Acesso Série A will participate in the first rehearsal on January 15th.
As always January’s rehearsals will take place at the Sambódromo, on Avenida Marques de Sapucaí, in Centro, and are organized by the Liga Independente das Escolas de Samba/LIESA (League of Independent Samba Schools).
Carioca and operator of local tourism outfit Bravietour, Rodrigo Braz Vieira, explains “Besides the rehearsals in the big halls [quadras], every weekend from January 15th until February 19th the technical rehearsals at the Sambódromo will take place.”
Vieira adds, “[It is a] great way to see a glimpse of what the parade will be during the Carnival, and mingle with the locals. These rehearsals are free of charge and starts from 7PM.”
On January 15th at 7PM, one of Rio’s oldest and most celebrated samba schools Império Serrano will kick off this year’s rehearsals, followed by Paraíso do Tuiuti at 8PM and União da Ilha at 9:30 PM. Samba schools Estácio de Sá, São Clemente and Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel will perform the following Sunday, January 22nd.
The technical rehearsals on both Saturdays and Sundays will commence from the final weekend of January and continue during February.
The final Sunday of 2017’s rehearsals, Sunday, February 19th, will see lighting and sound tests taking place at the Marquês de Sapucaí venue from 7:30 PM, followed by the traditional floor-washing ceremony at 8:30 PM.
Then the 2017 technical rehearsal period will close with a special performance from last year’s Grupo Especial champions, Estação Primeira da Mangueira, at 10PM.
The official Carnival dates are February 24th to 28th this year, with the Grupo Especial samba schools parading the 26th and 27th.