By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – One of the most widely broadcast and identifiable images of the Carnival parade is each samba school’s ‘Rainha de Bateria,’ (Queen of the Drum). The spectacularly adorned, often wildly under-dressed female dancer is seen as a figurehead for that school’s parade.
The school’s Rainha can be anyone from celebrity participants, long-time dancers at the school, or local unknowns. Here is a run-down of some of the most notable Rainhas participating in this year’s Carnival.
Quitéria Chagas is a Brazilian model, actress and dancer who will be representing the Império Serrano samba school, whom she has previously represented in the years between 2006-2010. In a recent interview with O Globo, she comments that to triumph at this year’s Carnival, the Rainha needs to be “as natural and spontaneous as possibl: less is always more.”
Flávia Lyra will be representing the samba school Imperatriz Leopoldinense for the second time. For the rest of the year she is a captain of the fire department for the state of Rio de Janeiro. Lyra has been widely popular on social media for her down-to-earth attitude and stereotype-defying career.
In a recent interview with Polemica Paraiba, Lyra comments, “Beautiful firefighters attract attention. It seems they cannot associate heavy work with beautiful women…The fact that I command teams and am responsible for some operations is even more awkward.”
The samba school of Grande Rio have a tradition of choosing a celebrity to represent them, such as TV presenter and former girlfriend of Mick Jagger, Luciana Gimenez, or actress Paola Oliveira. This year is no different, with one of the most popular actresses on O Globo, Juliana Paes, returning to lead the school’s parade for a second time.
The current longest-serving Rainha, Raíssa de Oliveira, will be returning to lead samba school Beija-Flor de Nilópolis for the seventeenth consecutive time. Her debut came in 2003 when she was just twelve years old. The school, crowned champions last year, will also be defending its title in 2019.
Another veteran Rainha is Gracyanne Barbosa, who has danced for the samba schools Salgueiro, Mangueira, Vila Isabel, Tuiuti, Unidos da Tijuca, and Portela. In 2018 she made her debut for União da Ilha, whom she will again be representing in 2019.