By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the early hours of Monday, March 4th, samba school G.R.E.S. Unidos da Tijuca will compete in the Grupo Especial with their parade scheduled to begin at 3:45 AM. The group will present their ‘samba enredo’ (thematic samba composition) entitled, ‘Cada macaco no seu galho. Ó, meu pai, me dê o pão que eu não morro de fome!’ (Each monkey on their own branch. Oh, my father, give me the bread that I do not starve to death!) which will explore the theme of bread.
“It is to have our daily bread with honesty, with work, and that we never lack bread. That is the proposal of Unidos da Tijuca” comments one of their Carnavalescos (Carnival Designers) for 2019, Hélcio Paim, in a recent interview with O Globo.
The themes of ‘Love thy neighbor’ and Brazil’s continuing battle to reduce inequality will also be touched upon as bread becomes a symbol of both power, exploitation, and well-being during Tijuca’s parade. Another Carnivalesco, Fran-Sérgio, comments in the same interview. “Tijuca calls for each one to do his part for the next, so that we have less inequality.”
Popular Carnavlesco Annik Salmon will be returing for her fifth Carnival with Unidos da Tijuca, while this year she will also be joined by legendary Carnavalesco Laíla, who left popular samba school Beija-Flor in 2018, after 23 years of working with them.
The composers for this year’s parade song are Márcio André, Daniel Katar, Diego Moura, Channel, Maia, Renan Filho, Edson Carvalho and Junior Trindade. Daniel Katar also spoke with O Globo about the timely theme of the lyrics, saying that he tried to make the samba into the form of a prayer.
With their trademark yellow and blue flag, representing the colors of Brazil’s former royal family, Unidos da Tijuca is the third oldest samba school in the country, being founded in 1931.
The school started life as a conglomeration of four Carnival ‘blocos’ (Carnival street parties), all originating from the favela communities of Casa Branca, Formiga and Ilha dos Velhacos, situated in the neighborhood of Tijuca, in Rio’s ‘Zona Norte’ (North Zone).
While the school experienced mixed fortunes throughout the twentieth century, being crowned champions once in 1936, and then three-time champions of the Série A (Access Group) in 1980, 1987, and 1999, the beginning of the twenty-first century has seen the school experience the triumph of winning the Carnival championship three times, in 2010, 2012, and 2014, all under the guidance of beloved Carnavelsco Paulo Barros.