By Vânia Maciel, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Holidays are over and for most people living in Rio, it means the party season has officially started. From now on, it is summer heat, lots of parties, and fantastic samba, all leading up to Carnival 2011 which is in March this year.
This week we profile Unidos da Tijuca, 2010 Carnival champion, and the fourth to enter the Sapucaí (Sambodrome) this year on Sunday, March 6th.
The champion samba school has perhaps the nearest rehearsal ground to Zona Sul, where the full gear pre-Carnival samba mayhem can be enjoyed. It is situated in front of the old Leopoldina train station on Clube dos Portuários – Av. Francisco Bicalho, 47 – Santo Cristo, Rio, RJ, and easily accessible by bus or cab.
Founded New Years Eve 1931, Unidos da Tijuca is a blend of four blocos (Carnival troupes) from Formiga, Ilha dos Velhacos and Casa Branca favelas. These communities started in Tijuca mountain range at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Tijuca is the third oldest samba school in Brazil and its founders had intended to defend Brazilian folk traditions, popular causes and cultural expressions specially samba. It has always been innovative though, and some say that it was the first to introduce floats to samba parade, first to record a samba-enredo (theme tune), and the first to introduce costume specially designed to its alas (samba school parts).
After a good start the school was demoted to the Access Group in 1959 and for a bitter 22 years it stayed there until in 1980 with a Carnival designed by Renato Lage, when it finally returned the Special Group. It was demoted again and bounced back several times; in 1985, 1987, and 1998, but has stayed in the Special Group since 2000.
From 2004 when Carnival designer Paulo Barros was hired, Tijuca took on a better shape. It was again transformed to a world class samba school loved by the press and public alike, being much anticipated at the Sambodrome.
Parading for the last ten years amongst the finest, it won the last Carnival with the theme “It’s a secret!”, from an idea a fourteen year old posted on social networking site Orkut.
Paulo Barros embraced the suggestion and developed the theme which told about humanities’ secrets throughout times. It sported at the head of its parade, a magic troupe performing magical tricks and several clothes changes overlooked by the public – albeit no one naked was shown at that part of the parade – whilst moving down Sapucaí Avenue, a first ever in Rio’s carnival.
This year the gold and peacock-blue samba school comes with intriguing theme “Tonight I will take your soul!” talking about the fear and courage of the Brazilian people. This dramatic theme opens a lot of fertile grounds for Mr. Barros and his team’s creativity to explore.
And the first strophe of Essa noite levarei sua alma! (Tonight I’ll take your soul) goes:
Tá com medo de quê? (What are you afraid of?)
O filme já vai começar (The movie is about to start)
Você foi convidado (Invited you are)
Caronte no barco não pode esperar (In the boat Charon cannot wait)
Apague a luz, a guerra começou (Off with the light, the war has begun)
Sob o capuz, delira o diretor (Under the hood, the director wildly dreams)
No filme que passa piada em cartaz (In the movie with jokes to be seen)
Pavor me abraça, isso não se faz (Dread embrace me, this shouldn’t be done so)
No espaço se vai, é a força que vem (In space it goes, forth power comes)
Meu medo não teme ninguém (My fear fears none).