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Mangueira Samba School Triumphs at Rio Carnival with Tribute to Maria Bethânia

02/11/2016  10H43


After 13 years without a title, the Mangueira samba school was crowned champion of the 2016 Rio Carnival, for their tribute to the singer Maria Bethânia.

The traditional samba school, famous for its green and pink colors, had not won anything since 2002. Still, in spite of the long drought, it is the second most successful samba school in Rio, behind only Portela, which has 21 titles and came third this year.

Ricardo Borges/Folhapress     Singer Maria Bethânia attended the parade and was visibly moved.
Ricardo Borges/Folhapress
Singer Maria Bethânia attended the parade and was visibly moved.

The title of Mangueira’s parade was “Maria Bethânia, a Menina dos Olhos de Oyá” (“Maria Bethânia, the Girl with the Eyes of Oyá”), a reference to the wind orisha Oyá (a spirit from Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé). However, the parade paid tribute to Brazilian syncretism (the mixture of different religious beliefs), referring also to Catholic figures and traditions like Santa Bárbara and the Senhor do Bonfim.

Bethânia, who celebrated her 50th career anniversary last year, attended the parade and was visibly moved. She received an ovation from the grandstands.

Leader of the special group, the carnival organizer Leandro Vieira said that he “made some adjustments” to Mangueira, for this year’s parade.

“It’s a very conservative school. What I tried to do was bring to the school the essence of a modern carnival. I used a lot of nudity, I used a bald female standard-bearer. The fans of the school arrived at the event and saw something different,” he said, during the champion’s parade.

He says that the secret of their success wasn’t the tribute to Maria Bethânia, nor the tradition of the school, but simple perfectionism and hard work. “We redid everything that was necessary,” he said.

Shortly after the announcement of the victory, the streets of the Morro da Mangueira, in the north of Rio, were full. Bars played samba as the local population celebrated.

“This is a real samba school!” said Mayara Brandão, 28, who was born in the Mangueira favela. “It’s about time we were champion again.” At the parade, the chant was “the champion is back!”

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

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Extraído do site do Jornal Folha de São Paulo – SP