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The Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro is a world famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1823.
The typical Rio carnival parade is filled with revelers, floats and adornments from numerous samba school which are located in Rio (more than 200 approximately, divided into 5 leagues/ divisions.) A samba school is composed of a collaboration of local neighbours that want to attend carnival together, with some kind of regional, geographical common background. The Top League, called the "Special Group" of Samba schools in 2014 include: GRES Unidos da Tijuca, Mocidade Independente,GRES Imperatriz Leopoldinense, GRES Uniao da Ilha do Governador, GRES Acadêmicos do Salgueiro, Portela, whose origin remounts to the single first samba group in Rio, GRES São Clemente, the traditional GRES Estação Primeira de Mangueira, founded by Cartola, samba composer and singer and Fluminense Football Club famous fan, GRES Acadêmicos do Grande Rio, located at Duque de Caxias city, GRES Unidos de Vila Isabel, Beija-Flor de Nilópolis, and finally GRES Império da Tijuca, which won the Access Division in 2013 Rio Carnival contest.
One of the many main purposes of the Rio carnival parade is for samba schools to compete with fellow rival... not (they are called co-sisters) samba-schools; this competition is the climax of the whole carnival festival in this city, related to the samba-schools environment. Each school chooses a theme to try and portray in their entry. The samba schools work to build the best floats,costumes, lyrics, aesthetics, to represent their themes ( in Carnival terminology called "enredo"), and to include the best music they can from their drumming band called the bateria. There are many parts to each school's entry including the six to eight floats and up to 4,000 ( four thousand ) revelers per Samba-school of the so-called Special group.
There is a special order that every school has to follow with their parade entries. Each school begins with the "comissão de frente" (Commission of Front in English), which is the first wing. The "comissão de frente" is made up of ten to fifteen people only, and they are the ones who introduce the school and set the mood. These people have choreographic dances in fancy costumes that usually tell a short story. Following the "comissão de frente" is the first float of the samba school, called "abre-alas" ( Opening Wing in English ).
Some of the important roles include the porta-bandeira and mestre-sala. The porta-bandeira is a very important lady who is in charge of the samba school flag, including making sure to not allow the flag to roll. She is accompanied by the mestre-sala, who is supposed to draw everyone’s attention to "his queen", the porta-bandeira. Floatees, who are also important, are the people who populate the floats, also known as destaques. The floatees have the most luxurious and expensive costumes that can be extremely heavy. Along with all the floatees is one main floatee that is located at the top of each float. The main destaque dances and sings for the entire time that the float is on the runway.
One other aspect that is mandatory is the presence of the ala das baianas. This is a wing of the samba school entry that includes at least 100 females only. These women along with many other people do not ride on the floats as many others do, instead they are passistas, the people who belong to the samba school that do the marching alongside and between the floats.
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