By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – G.R.E.S. Imperatriz Leopoldinense represents the suburb of Ramos in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and after ranking in sixth place in the 2011 Carnival parade, they will be performing at Carnival 2012 on Sunday, February 19th as the third samba school to dazzle the crowds at the Sambódromo in Rio.

Imperatriz's is renowned for its fantasy style designs, as seen at Carnival 2011, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
Imperatriz's is renowned for its fantasy style designs, as seen at Carnival 2011, photo by Luis Fernando Reis/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Founded in 1956, the school’s name was chosen as a tribute to the Archduchess Maria Leopoldina of Austria, also Empress of Brazil and consort to Emperor Pedro I, an influential figure in the independence of Brazil from Portuguese rule.

Imperatriz Leopoldinense has had a well documented success, having won the championship title in the Grupo Especial (Special Group) eight times since 1980. The performances are always innovative thanks to Imperatriz’s skilled leaders which have included legendary Carnival director Arlindo Rodrigues during the 1980s and now, devoted Carnival designer, Rosa Magalhães, whose talents have fashioned many distinctive and enchanting creations.

As tradition would expect, the club’s impending performance at Carnival 2012 is set to be a spectacular show, focusing on the Enredo (Theme) “Jorge, Amado Jorge” meaning “Jorge beloved Jorge”. The plot will explore the life and cultural legacy of Jorge Amado, the world famous Brazilian writer and author of best sellers such as “Gabriela”, “Tieta do Agreste” and many others.

This is not the first time that Amado’s works have inspired samba schools at carnival. His books are translated into 49 languages in 55 countries, and have been adapted into films, theatrical works and Television programs. Imperatriz will use the writer’s coincidental surname, which means beloved, to celebrate both his life his work achievements.

The Club acquired its first victory in 1980, followed by another triumph the year after, sparking a trend that would last throughout the decade and ensuring it remained a strong competitor in the Grupo Especial. The official symbol of Imperatriz is a gold crown, a tribute to Empress Leopoldina’s reign, depicted on a background of Green and white.

Long serving Queen, Luiza Brunet performs with Imperatriz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
Long serving Queen, Luiza Brunet performs with Imperatriz, photo by sfmission/Flickr Creative Commons License.

In 2012 Imperatriz will, once again, invite their long-standing Carnival Rainha da Bateria (Queen of the Drums) and muse, Luiza Brunet. The model, celebrity and Carnival enthusiast has had her own remarkable journey intertwined with Rio’s Carnival, having spent a record breaking 27 years participating in parades at the Sambódromo.

After serving with Beija Flor and later as Rainha for Portela, Brunet moved on to Imperatriz, an alliance which has withstood the test of time. Her starring role was ultimately fermented following the schools three consecutive wins in the years 1999, 2000 and 2001 with Brunet heading the parade.

To some extent, her ongoing success is credited to her lengthy victory as Imperatriz’s Rainha, a testament to which comes from a statement widely circulated within the carnival community that Brunet is the “Queen of the Carnival Queens”.

Despite having served as Imperatriz’s muse for seventeen consecutive years, Brunet is not ready to hang up her headdress just yet. Speaking to O Globo news station G1, she explained “I don’t intend to leave the carnival soon. It doesn’t grow old, it’s like football, an infinite passion.”

With less than eight weeks left until Carnival, Imperatriz like its competitors, will be upping the ante in terms of their rehearsals schedule in order to get ready for the big event. To find out more about the school, lend support or simply attend a practice rehearsal and watch the school perform, visit the website.