By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Famous for its strong bateria (percussion section) and futuristic set designs, samba school Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel, will parade fifth in the Sambódromo during the first night of Grupo Especial (Special Group) competition on February 7th.

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Singer Claudia Leitte will return for a second year to serve as Mocidade’s Rainha de Bateria (Queen of the Percussion Section) during its 2016 parade, photo by Tata Barreto | Riotur.

Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel, better known as “Mocidade” or “Mocidade Independente,” began over half a century ago as a soccer club in Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) neighborhood of Padre Miguel. The club, Independente Futebol Clube, would go on to became a samba school in 1955. The school then first officially paraded in 1957.

In the beginning, Mocidade was best known for its bateria (percussion section). While a strong bateria is an essential element of all competitive samba school parades, as it consitutes one of the ten categories judged during the Carnival competition, some argued that Mocidade parades were lacking in other areas, calling it “a bateria that carried a school on its back.”

However, the focus on the bateria did lead the school to become innovators in the category. Mocidade was the first to use a Rainha de Bateria (Queen of the Drums), introducing the role to the parades in the 1970s and the school featured the first bateria to perform a maneuver known as the “paradinha” (little stop).

It wasn’t until the middle of the 1970s that Mocidade began to earn the reputation as a good overall school. The arrival of carnavalesco (Carnival designer) Arlindo Rodrigues in 1974 and later Fernando Pinto’s time in the position beginning in 1979, brought vibrant, colorful, and playful aesthetics to the school’s parades and displayed the artistic capabilities of Mocidade.

Pinto, who began his career in 1971 with the samba school Império Serrano, is now considered to be one of the most creative carnvavalescos in Carnival history. He helped lead Mocidade to a Championship tie with Vila Isabel and União da Ilha in 1988 with the presentation of “Tropicália Maravilha.” It was a parade filled with the bright colors, flowers and fruits that celebrated nature’s bounty in Brazil. In 1985, Pinto helped the school to become the sole champions through a spaced-themed enredo, “Ziriguidum 2001 – Um Carnaval nas Estrelas,” (Ziriguidum 2001 – A Carnival in the Stars).

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In 2015 Mocidade presented 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?), photo by Fernando Maia | Riotur.

Mocidade would win again in 1990 and 1991 led by the duo of Carnival designers Renato Lage and Lilian Rabelo. Then led by Renato Lage alone, the school won again in 1996.

While Mocidade has maintained its place in the Grupo Especial (Special Group) since 1990, its 1996 win was its last victory to date. Although the school did tie for Vice-Championship (runner-up) in 1997.

Last year, led by carnavalesco (Carnival Designer) Paulo Barros, Mocidade presented 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?).

A parade fill with representations of time, death and end of the world activities, it was intended to provoke thought and encourage joyous living in the moment. It earned the school seventh place in the overall competition.

For the 2016 competition, Mocidade will present the theme, “O Brasil de La Mancha” (“The Brazil of La Mancha”). A tribute to Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” and a look at the current issues facing the country including youth literacy in Brazil.

Alexandre Louzada and Edson Pereira are serving as carnavalescos and singer Claudia Leitte will return for the second year to serve as Rainha de Bateria (Queen of the Percussion Section).

“We chose to do a cultural story, because 2016 will be 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, author of ‘Don Quixote De La Mancha,’ the greatest work of world literature,” Mocidade president Rogério de Andrade told O Dia. “Our intention is to work on the theme together with the public schools in the area near the school’s quadra [pratice hall].”

The school’s quadra is located on Av. Brasil, 31.146 in Padre Miguel. To learn more about Mocidade, its history and its theme this year, see the school’s website.

Additionally, 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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