By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the early hours of Monday, March 4th, samba school G.R.E.S. Beija-Flor will compete in the Grupo Especial with their parade scheduled to begin at 1:35 AM. The group will present their ‘samba enredo’ (thematic samba composition) entitled, ‘Quem não viu vai ver…As fábulas do Beija-flor’ (Who did not see will see … The fables of Beija-flor) which will celebrate the seventy-year anniversary of the samba school through a presentation of allegories detailing its history and origins.
To celebrate their seventieth birthday, Beija-Flor, the reigning champions of the Grupo Especial, will use their Carnival parade to revisit their own history through a series of children’s fables that will commemorate the school’s key characters and significant past parades, while also critiquing contemporary problems in Brazilian society.
Beija-Flor’s artistic director and member of the Carnival commission, Marcelo Misailidis, spoke to O Dia, where he comments, “The allegory will bring a panorama of situations that happen all the time, like the solutions they tried to give to the city of Mariana, and now Brumadinho. Let’s ask questions so the audience reflects and reaches their own conclusions.”
The school will be hoping to defend their crown after their triumphant 2018 parade which saw them awarded Carnival champions. Beija-Flor wowed the public and judges alike with their take on Mary Shelley’s classic novel ‘Frankenstein,’ which also gave them a chance to explore Brazil’s ‘monstrous side,’ earning them a fourteenth title in the process.
Beija-Flor is one of the most popular samba schools among cariocas, Brazilians, and foreigners alike, with fourteen championships under its belt, more than any other samba school aside from Portela and Mangueira. However, they can claim to have won the most championships in the more recent ‘sambadrome era’ of Carnival history.
Originally founded as a Carnival ‘bloco’ (street party), in 1948, Beija-Flor officially became a samba school in 1953, representing the municipality of Nilópolis, located in Baixada Fluminense (a region of the state of Rio de Janeiro that surrounds the capital).
Represented by a white-and-blue flag, with a ‘beija-flor’ (hummingbird) in its center, Beija-Flor is also famous for its former Carnavalesco (Carnival designer) Joãozinho Trinta, who created some of the most spectacularly-designed parades in both the history of the school and of Carnival itself. This year will see the school without their other longstanding Carnavalesco, Laíla, who left the school after 23 years and 13 titles.
Despite reports of delays and lack of funding, the school are optimistic about their chances this year. “We’re going to use a lot of our own memory, what moved us and touched the fans of Beija-Flor and those who love Carnival in general,” comments Cid Carvalho, one of the school’s current Carnavalescos, in a recent O Globo interview, “That is, to paint great moments with an explosion of emotion.”