By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On the evening of Monday, March 4th, samba school G.R.E.S. Unidos de Vila Isabel will compete in the Grupo Especial with their parade scheduled to begin at 10:20 PM. The group will present their ‘samba enredo’ (thematic samba composition) entitled, ‘Em nome do Pai, do Filho e dos Santos, a Vila canta a cidade de Pedro’ (In the name of the Father, the Son and the Saints, the ‘Vila’ sings the city of Peter) an homage to the city of Petrópolis, former home of the Brazilian royal family.
The school’s Carnavalesco (Carnival Designer) for this year’s parade, Edson Pereira, was recently interviewed by O Globo, where he comments on some of the themes for the tribute. “The city was built by immigrants: Dutch, French and English, who brought not only gastronomy, but the culture that makes us feel at home and turned into this marvellous city we call Petrópolis.”
The parade will depict a journey up the mountain range towards Petrópolis, in the Serrana Region just two hours’ drive from Rio de Janeiro. They will pass through the ‘Serra dos Índios Coroados’ and see where the Indigenous Brazilians lived in the forest.
Other sites of the city to be featured are the House of Santos Dumont, the famous Brazilian aeronautical pioneer, as well as to the Imperial Museum, which will feature the royal court, including Emperor Pedro II.
The parade will then end with a celebration of Princess Isabel, daughter of Emperor Pedro II, who the neighborhood of Vila Isabel, and the samba school, are named after. This year’s composition was written by André Diniz, Evandro Bocão, Professor Wladimir, Júlio Alves, Marcelo Valêncio, Dedé Augusto and Ivan Ribeiro.
Carnavalesco Edson Pereira is hoping to use the parade to draw attention to themes such as environmental sustainability. For example, when presenting the flora and fauna of the region, the school will use a float decorated with five-thousand plastic bottles which they collected.
For a different section of the parade, the family of murdered Rio councillor, Marielle Franco, are also expected to take part, in what Pereira describes in another interview with O Globo as “a critique of segregation, prejudice and social inequality.”
Founded in 1946 by ‘Seu’ China and Tuninho Carpinteiro, Unidos de Vila Isabel originated, like so many other samba schools, out of a small Carnival ‘bloco’ in the neighborhood of Vila Isabel, in Rio’s ‘Zona Norte’ (North Zone).
They now rank among one of the most acclaimed of Rio’s samba schools, having been crowned champions three times, in 1988, 2006, and 2013.
2013 saw the school wow both the sambadrome crowds and judges with their presentation titled, ‘A Vila canta o Brasil, celeiro do mundo – Água no feijão que chegou mais um’ (The Vila sings Brazil, world’s breadbasket – Add more water to the beans, one more has arrived) led by famous Carnavalesca (Carnival Designer) Rosa Magalhães.