By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – G.R.E.S São Clemente has the distinction of being one of the few Carnival samba schools to have originated in Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Sul (South Zone). Following its much celebrated promotion from the Access Group in 2010, São Clemente has been keen to make an impression and secure a long term place in the Grupo Especial (Special Group) category.

A member of São Clemente takes part in Carnival 2011. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
A member of São Clemente takes part in Carnival 2011, photo by Creative Commons License.

After being awarded ninth place in Carnival 2011, the school hopes to increase its position with their 2012 Enredo (Theme) “Uma aventura musical na Sapucaí” which means ‘A musical adventure in Sapucai’.

The story-line takes inspiration from a number of famous Broadway musicals such as ‘Cats’, ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Les Miserables’ along with references to classic movies ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and Brazilian Academy Award Winner ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’.

The theme suggests that the school is hoping to secure victory with a unique and show stopping performance that incorporates the glamor of the theater and film world.

The club’s journey to success began in 1951 on São Clemente Street in Botofogo where it practiced for its future in the Special Group by taking part in informal parades for the local residents. For its emblem, it chose one of the city’s most famous land marks, the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf), which is depicted in the clubs official colors, black and yellow.

Having spent the last fifty years or so being promoted and then demoted from the various categories, the school earned itself a place in the official Carnival parade of 1962 as part of the Terceiro Gruppo (Third Class). In 1971, it made the transition in to the Segunda Gruppo (Second Group) where it remained for almost a decade.

The São Clemente Bateria performs in the Carnival 2011, Rio de Janeiro
The São Clemente Bateria performs in the Carnival 2011, image recreation.

During the 1980s São Clemente was demoted to Third Class following a reduction in the number of schools in the higher categories. Consequently, the club progressed at an uneven and, at times, shaky pace, alternating between the Second Group, Access Group and Special Group until finally being granted promotion to the top in 2010.

Earlier this year, the school re-elected its long serving muse Bruna Almeida as the 2012 Rainha da bateria (Queen) of São Clemente. Having served as the club’s queen for the last twelve years, Almeida has traveled the road to success along with the school and knows, more than anyone, the pressure of both sustaining their place in the Special Group and competing for victory.

Speaking to Brazilian News station iG, the 27-year-old said: “Anxiety and nervousness are the same whether it’s the second or the twelfth time round. I have a responsibility to [bring] more vigor to the avenue, more even because it is a coveted position.”

São Clemente is well respected by the Cariocas who respond well to the joy and frivolity that have become two of its most recognizable characteristics.

The school will be taking part in Carnival on February 20th, 2012 at the Sambódromo. To learn more about São Clemente, how to support them and when the rehearsals will be taking place visit the website.


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