By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – G.R.E.S. Acadêmicos do Salgueiro, famously known in Rio as simply Salgueiro, will pay tribute to the Earth as they parade fifth for the Grupo Especial (Special Group) on Sunday, March 2nd during the 2014 Carnival. With their enredo (theme) for this year, “Gaia – Life in our hands”, the school will focus on the relationship between humans and the earth while highlighting the importance of preservation.

Acadêmicos do Salgueiro, Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Acadêmicos do Salgueiro enjoys one of the largest samba school followings in Rio, photo by Patricia Santos/Riotur.

“Gaia means Earth in Greek,” the school’s synopsis of their theme states. “It is the place where we live, where we grow, where we raise our children and where we honor life with celebration, joy, and especially with Carnival.”

Led by the husband and wife team of Carnavalescos (Carnival designers) Renato Lage and Márcia Lage, the theme will harken back to a time when mankind lived in true harmony with the nature. To reflect this, the school’s parade will include an African creation legend complete with deities representing the natural elements.

“We reference the Yoruba [an ethnic group in Africa] cosmogony to be closer to our cultural reality,” states the synopsis. “Those myths are fairly widespread in many artistic and cultural events throughout Brazil.”

Currently based in Andaraí, a neighborhood in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone), Salgueiro was originally formed in 1953 from the union of two samba schools located on Salgueiro hill in Tijuca, also in Rio’s Zona Norte. During the 1960s and 1970s the school, represented by the colors red and white, really came into its own.

G.R.E.S. Acadêmicos do Salgueiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Salgueiro Samba School parading with their theme “Fama” (Fame) during the 2013 Carnival, photo by Patricia Santos/Riotur.

Salgueiro won three championship titles in those two decades, mostly due in part to the guidance of the famous Carnavalesco (Carnival designer), Joãosinho Trinta.

The school regained the title of champion again in 1993 and most recently in 2009 with the theme, “Tambor” (Drum). Salgueiro placed fifth overall during last year’s Carnvial with their theme- sponsored by Brazilian magazine Caras (Faces)- entitled, “Fama” (Fame).

Isabel Correa, a model and contestant in Miss Mundo Sergipe is a Beija Flor fan but has been to the Salgueiro rehearsals. She tells The Rio Times, “Salgueiro is vibrant. You can meet people from all over the world in the same place. And I believe that the rehearsals there are so popular because it is well located and easy access to all foreigners, so a lot people prefer to go there.”

Sadly this year’s parade will be overcast by tragedy after the recent death of Acadêmicos do Salgueiro’s vice president Marcello da Cunha Freire, better known by his nickname, Marcello Tijolo. On Tuesday, January 14th, the forty-seven-year old Tijolo was shot while in Vila Isabel in Rio’s Zona Norte, and he later died during the early hours of Thursday, January 16th in a private hospital.

At the news of his passing President of Salgueiro, Regina Celi Fernandes stated; “Unfortunately, we confirm the passing of our friend and vice president, Marcello Tijolo. Words fail to express the pain and longing.”

The school regularly holds practices and special shows in their quadra (practice hall), which are some of the best attended of all schools. The next event is scheduled for Tuesday, January 28th beginning at 10PM (although the party doesn’t really get going until after midnight) and will include Brazilian singer Mumuzinho. Find out more at their web site.

G.R.E.S. Acadêmicos do Salgueiro
Rua Silva Teles 104, Andaraí
Tel.: (21) 2238-0389 / 2238-9226


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