Carnival remains the biggest annual festival in Brazil BUT it is not ALL about the Party! AS I mentioned in my previous post, At Rio’s Sambódromo is where a HUGE part of Carnival is…what appears to be a lavish, long and colorful parade is a SERIOUS competition!! A competition that is months in the making. It is a competition between Samba Schools and one that is almost like professional sports teams…like Futebol for Brazil!
SO…Here is a rundown how this works:
There are over seventy competitive samba schools in six divisions and all schools will compete during the four days of Carnival but only “The Special Group”(the twelve highest ranking samba schools) and the schools in Access Groups A and B will appear in the Sambódromo.
For months before Carnival begins each school chooses their Enredo (theme). Every part of their parade presentation should correspond with their chosen theme.There are ten categories for which the samba schools are judged. Four judges are selected for each category.The judges are positioned in special boxes placed throughout the Sambódromo and the judges score their specific categories on a 5 to 10 point scale (the best score is 10) The ten categories judged are: Enredo (Theme of the Year), Samba-Enredo (Samba Song), Bateria (Percussion Section), Harmonia (Harmony), Evolução (Continuing Spirit Throughout the Parade ), Conjunto (Overall Impression), Alegorias e Adereços (Float and Props), Fantasias (Costumes), Comissão de Frente (Front Commission or Vanguard Group), and the Mestre-sala e Porta-bandeira (The Flag Carrying Couple).
Following the conclusion of Carnival and the parades, the votes from the forty judges are tallied and broadcast live on Wednesday. And just like Futebol…EVERYONE anxiously watches the results!! The Special Group school with the highest combined score from all categories becomes that year’s Carnival Champion!! The lowest scorer from the Special Group then becomes Access Group A and the highest scorer from that group is promoted to the Special Group for the following year. ( this part is a little confusing) Then the top six scorers from Special Group will return for Carnival Champions’ Parade. This Parade will take place a little later.
We would have liked to see some of this at the Sambódromo…the Samba schools in all their glory BUT it just wasn’t realistic for us to do…and besides I just have to keep telling myself we will actually see MORE of the competition side of things from the comfort of our apartment in front of the TV rather than deal with the millions of “partying” spectators at the Sambódromo!