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By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This year G.R.E.S. Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel will make their way through the famed Sambódromo as the third Grupo Especial (Special Group) samba school to parade during the first day of competition on Sunday, February 15th.

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Mocidade’s Mestre-sala and Porta-bandeira (Flag-carrying Couple) during their 2014 parade, photo by Nelson Perez/Riotur.

Best known simply as “Mocidade” or “Mocidade Independente,” the school has maintained their position in the Special Group since 1990 but have not seen victory since 1996.

Formed over fifty years ago as a soccer club in Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) neighborhood of Padre Miguel, the school first officially paraded in 1957.

Over the years that followed, the school became well known for their strong bateria (percussion section). They became so well known for it, that some argued it was the only impressive aspect of the school, calling them “the bateria that carried a school on its back.”

Critics aside, a strong bateria is an important element of all competitive samba school parades, as it consitutes one of the ten categories judged during the Carnival competition. And while some argued that Mocidade’s focus on their bateria was myopic, it did lead them to become innovators in the category.

The school was the first to use a Rainha de Bateria (Queen of the Drums), introducing the role to the parades in the 1970s. They were also the first bateria to perform a maneuver known as the “paradinha” (little stop), a surprising move that involves most of the bateria stopping, with the usual exception of the stringed instrument, the cavaquinho. The vocals and the cavaquinho continue the samba-enredo (theme song) and then the drums will suddenly begin again. It’s a move that many schools now use during their processions.

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In addition to their thundering bateria, Mocidade has become known for the use of futuristic elements and vibrant colors in their parades, photo by Nelson Perez/Riotur.

Over the years, Mocidade gradually strengthened their other alas (sections in the parade) and in the 1970s the public began to view them as a good overall school.

One major cause of this transition was the arrival of Carnavalesco (Carnival designer) Arlindo Rodrigues in 1974. Infusing new and vibrant aesthetics into their processions, Rodrigues helped lead the school to earn fifth place that year. But it was Fernando Pinto moving into the designer position in 1979, that truly cemented the artistic capabilities of Mocidade.

Pinto who began his career in 1971 with the samba school Império Serrano, would go on to be considered one of the most creative Carnvavalescos in Carnival history. In 1980, with the presentation of “Tropicália Maravilha,” a colorful enredo (theme) filled with the bountiful flowers and fruits of Brazil, he helped lead Mocidade to a Championship tie with Vila Isabel and União da Ilha.

Then in 1985 he led the school to become the sole champions with the space-themed, “Ziriguidum 2001 – Um Carnaval nas Estrelas,” (Ziriguidum 2001 – A Carnival in the Stars).

Mocidade would win again in 1990 and 1991 led by the duo of Carnival designers Renato Lage and Lilian Rabelo. Then in 1996 lead by solely Renato Lage, the school won their last Carnival to date. Although they did tie for Vice-Championship in 1997.

Last year the school placed 9th with their presentation of “Pernambucópolis.” It was, according to Carnival Designer Paulo Menezes, a “baroque-tropicalist, retro-futuristic, post-modern-psychedelic, folkloric-technological and Brazilian theme” in tribute to both the Brazilian Northeastern state of Pernambuco and to Pinto.

This year, led by Carnival Designer Paulo Barros, the school will present the theme, “Se o mundo fosse acabar, me diz o que você faria se só lhe restasse um dia?” (If the world were to end, tell me what would you do if there were only one day left?).

Intended to provoke thought and encourage joyous living in the moment, the samba-enredo (samba theme song), roughly translated states; “You, what would you do/ If the world were to end/And only this day was left to live?” adding later, “Come … It is the final judgment/Tomorrow comes alive … no more!/Let it go … Only joy!/Unleash your fantasy!”

For more information about Mocidade’s parade this year and events they will host during the lead-up to this year’s Carnival, see their website.

G.R.E.S. Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel
Rua Avenida Brazil 31146 – Padre Miguel
Rio de Janeiro, RJ – CEP 21725-001
Tel.: (21) 2223-1098

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