Carnaval 2012 – Revisitado

Another year without making the pilgrimage back to Brasil for Carnaval. [SIGH]. Que pena. Viver na cidade dos anjos tem seu preço. É por isso that I still feel a fistful of saudade slam into my gut when I see this photo essay by Felipe Dana from this year’s desfile no Sambodromo. Incríveis, as imagens.

The trio elétricos in Bahia are the velha guarda and in reality, the smaller blocos are more fun to take part in but damn… there’s something about the intensity and magnitude of the Sambodromo that just can’t be matched. It’s hands down the vovô of global spectacle and Dana captures so much of it in his series for the LA Times. Starting with a shot of Antônia Fontenelle, this year’s rainha de bateria da escola de samba Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel, Dana is able to translate the …energia of carnaval that results each year from 11 months of artistry, craftsmanship, training, and commitment.

Antônia Fontenelle, Rainha de Bateria - Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel

It should be noted that Ms. Fontenelle was also elected Queen of Carnaval by the readers of Playboy Brasil. We mention this mostly because of the scrutinizing selection criteria. As noted in the publicity release, the 38 year old actress scored 10s across the board in the all important categories of requebrado, gostosura, and bumbum.

“A atriz é nota 10 em requebrado. Todo mundo sabe que não existe rainha sem samba no pé. Para arrasar na Sapucaí, ela fez aulas com ninguém menos que Carlinhos de Jesus. Antônia Fontenelle também é 10 em matéria de gostosura. O negócio é ter curvas. Músculos é coisa de 2011. Neste ano, o ideal é ser extremamente gostosa. 10 é a nota para o bumbum da moça. Mulher desbundada não combina com Carnaval”.

Hmmm… didn’t know muscles were so 2011. Oh well… let the curvy ladies rejoice – PB says 2012 is your year!

Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Beija-Flor de Nilópolis, Baixada Fluminense. Look closer, the design of the float is muuito impressionante.

Of course the beauty of Carnaval is that the celebration of gostosura and bumbum is always balanced by an unforgiving demand for style, creativity, charisma, and execution from each and every member of the samba school. Show all the flesh you want but if your bateria isn’t tight, your bunda won’t make up the distance. Escolas de Samba that don’t put all the pieces together get punked and lose their street cred for at least the next year. With that system of checks and balances in place, the smorgasbord of bumbum that parades through the Sambodromo is able to serve the dual purpose of making turistas drop their jaw in “gluteal admiration” but also keeps everybody locked into the greater display of music and dance and the cultural-historical themes of the parade floats. And as we can see from Beija Flor’s amazing slave ship in the photo above, the samba schools don’t hesitate to shove problematic issues in your face. It’s mostly about the party, but the pageantry of Brasil’s pre-lenten revelry also has the power to serve as a portavoz to bring attention to some pretty serious shit: AIDS, slavery, the apocalypse, the Holocaust – although it should be recognized that the float with Hitler atop a pile of dead bodies didn’t go over too well with the Brazilian Jewish Federation.

So it can be heavy. But always with a smile, a wicked drumbeat, and lotsa lotsa bunda.

– EPR

Some more of our favorites from Rio 2012:

Voa Jorge, Jorge voa!

Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Beija-Flor de Nilópolis, Baixada Fluminense

Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Unidos de Vila Isabel

Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Unidos de Vila Isabel

Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Unidos de Vila Isabel

Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Acadêmicos do Grande Rio

Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Beija-Flor de Nilópolis, Baixada Fluminense

Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Beija-Flor de Nilópolis, Baixada Fluminense

Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Unidos de Vila Isabel

Faz clic neste LINK pra ver mais das fotos estupendas de Felipe Dana.

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