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Rio Carnival 2020 – Floats and Dancers, Brazilian Carnival, the Samba Schools Parade

Carnivals are wild ceremonies held to celebrate food, music, alcohol, and fun. Carnivals are held annually in Brazil and last for six days. The celebration begins before the Lent period- the forty days of fasting, repentance, and abstinence observed in the Catholic church before the Easter holiday. According to (McManus, 2011), the word carnival comes from ‘carne vale,’ which means farewell to the flesh.

The Portuguese introduced the spectacular carnival tradition around the year eighteen hundred. Carnivals were mainly practiced by the Parisians who held masquerade balls and parties. The Brazilians, however, used this tradition and added their traditions over time. They added elements from their ethnic, cultural backgrounds, and African traditions. Black communities form a majority of the participants in the festival. According to history, the slave trade was abolished during the carnivals started.

As a result, the carnivals constated of parades, balls, parties, eye-catching costumes, and amazing costumes. Due to these traditions, ‘a tradition includes men dressing up as women, aristocrats dressed as commoners, and the poor dressed as the rich’ (McManus, 2011).

Rio DE Janeiro’s carnival celebration is the most popular globally and historic site. Travelers from all over the world visit the country for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The carnivals consist of spectacular parades. The parades are decorated with eyecatching colors, patterns and have a theme that tells a story. The Samba Schools stage the parades. The schools prepare the carnivals entry to showcase their parade (McManus, 2011).

The Samba schools include Deixa Falar, Mangueira and Poartela. These schools have been among the leading winner parades. Other schools include Unidoz ja Tijuca, Beija-Flor and Mocidade. The video shows that different Samba schools have distinct color themes. Each performance in the 2020 Rio carnival used theme colors such as blue, white, green, gold, pink, and black. As seen in the video, the performance in each float is unique, and each has a different theme. Unique costumes are used for each float. The use of statues is also evident in the floats. Each float tells a story. Every participant has their best foot forward as the number of points earned by each school determines their position in the following year’s festival.

The carnival festival is divided into different sections known as the wings. Each individual in a single wing has similar costumes. Each wing contains a float that should be spectacular. Floats in the 2020 carnival, as seen in the video, include a polar bear statue, a circus clown holding a heart in one hand and waving to the crowd with the other, a bird covered in white, a golden Roman statue, and a statue of Jesus on the cross among others.

As seen in the 2020 Rio Carnival, each float performance has a flag bearer and an escort at the front. The flag represents each samba school. In most floats, the lady carries the flag as the escort dances around her. The flag introduces the school and is the most important to the judges. Following the flag bearers, ladies known as Baianas are seen dancing around. They are mostly older ladies who represent the soul of the school and their ethnic roots. The ladies have years of experience dancing in carnivals. Directly behind the Baianas, there is the Drummers and the Bateria queen. A female samba dancer leads the drummers with a spectacular outfit covered in jewels, fur, feathers, and beautiful fabrics. In the 2020 carnival, the queen captivates the crowd and motivates the rest of the school. The main samba dancers are directly behind the queen. As seen in the video, the group consists of about fifteen to twenty dancers. The performers are seen using synchronized choreography to tell their stories.

The music used in the Rio de Janeiro festivals is called samba. The origin of the music came from African slaves and was invented when slavery was abolished. The samba music is often referred to as ritual music. Samba songs are essential in the carnivals as they make the celebration lively. The behest attraction of the carnival includes the floats and, most importantly, the music. Musicians who make the samba music have to appeal to the ears to gain more points from the judges. From the youtube link, one song is heard throughout the video. In the carnival itself, every float has its musical composition. From the youtube link, one song with a loud pitch and dynamic is heard throughout the entire video. The loud dynamic is appropriate as the occasion is lively and involves a lot of dancing.

Each samba consists of samba drummers. The drummer’s tone the energy of their float using the tone color of their drums. The music playing in the video consists of a harmony of different instruments in a rhythm. Music in the Rio de Janeiro carnival consists of a heterophonic texture from the drummers. Traditionally, Samba music consists of the same melody but on a different scale.

In the carnival, with different instruments playing simultaneously, a texture of Brazil’s carnival culture is formed.


McManus, M. (2011, July 25). How Brazilian traditions work. Retrieved December 05, 2021, from


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