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By Sarah Brown, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While the rest of Rio de Janeiro thinks about the approaching Christmas and New Year period, the city’s samba schools have Carnival in mind as Liga Independente das Escolas de Samba/LIESA (League of Independent Samba Schools) have announced the line up for the school’s technical rehearsals.

Samba dancers prepare for the Carnival performance, photo by PlidaoUrbenia.
Samba dancers prepare for the Carnival performance, photo by PlidaoUrbenia/Flickr Creative Commons License.

The technical rehearsals grant the opportunity for Rio’s samba schools to practice their performance and iron out any glitches or technical issues. It’s a chance to make sure they are fully prepared to give the biggest show of the year during the Carnival in February, the largest samba parade competition in the world. Rehearsals take place all weekends, yet the technical rehearsals are specifically with the Carnival performance in mind.

Rehearsals for Carnival will happen at the legendary Sambódromo in the city center and provide a wonderful opportunity to watch the practice and see what’s in store for February. There is nothing static about these rehearsals; the big steel drum beats fill the air, uniting the crowd with the bedazzling samba dancers.

Nohelia Sanchez from the tourism agency DayTour4u shares her thoughts about the Carnival rehearsals. “I personally prefer the rehearsals as a way to get immersed in the samba schools culture. Academicos do Salgueiro is one of the biggest Samba Schools. It is definitely worth the time to go, and while you are there you can also taste some local gastronomy and take in the tremendous energy that is displayed!”

“You can visit with or without a tour, but just need plan out your transportation because is late at night and is not near to Zona Sul [South Zone] area,” explains Sanchez, revealing valuable tips about going.

“The practical tips for the parade visitor is to arrive early, bring comfortable shoes and clothes, and since you won’t be able to enter with food or drinks, bring enough cash or credit to purchase what you need there. While the infrastructure is good and it is a safe place to be, as in every massive event, leave your valuables at home and bring only the necessary.”

The costumes of the parades and rehearsals are astonishing, photo by nateClicks.
The costumes of the parades and rehearsals are astonishing, photo by nateClicks/Flickr Creative Commons License.

“My best tip,” she adds, “is to have patience and good vibes, because in Rio during carnival nothing matters more than the carnival itself- a long night of samba and local culture.”

There are 26 schools scheduled for technical practice yet most eyes will focus on the twelve special schools who are in the highest league and tend to give the most astonishing performances. The schedules are created by LIESA. The first technical rehearsal will begin on Sunday, January, 15th with Paraiso do Tuiuti (8PM) and União da Ilha (9:30 PM).

Sunday, January 22nd, São Clemente will start rehearsals (8PM) followed by Mocidade (9:30 PM). Finally, the last Sunday of January on 29th, Beija Flor will do their test run (8PM) and then after Grande Rio (9:30 PM).

February will see the final rehearsals before the main event. On Sunday, 5th Vila Isabel (8PM) with practise followed by the highly-anticipated, Salgueiro (9:30 PM). On Sunday, 12th Portela (8PM) will rehearse followed by Unidos da Tijuca (9:30 PM). On Saturday, 18th it’s the test run of samba school Imperatriz (9:30 PM) before the final rehearsal from Mangueira (9:30 PM) on Sunday, 19th.

The rehearsals are free, providing a great opportunity for the budget-conscious traveler to see the parades first-hand without paying the actual parade prices.

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