THE MAKING OF THE CARNIVAL / INTERVIEWS
Omar Montenegro, designer and producer of RioCarnival talks to the people behind the scenes of the “Greatest party on earth”.
Megumi Kudo, passista da Salgueiro de Rio de
Janeiro e rainha da bateria da Feijao Preto no
Japan. (in ENGLISH)
Megumi Kudo, 30, nasceu em Kobe uma cidade de
cerca de um milhão e meio de pessoas, localizada
quase no centro do Japão, na região de Kansai, oeste
Ela é apaxionada por Kobe que descreve como uma cidade lindíssima de meio porte rodeada de montanhas, mar e florestas que criam um belíssimo cenário natural. Kobe e Rio de Janeiro tem em comum a beleza geográfica, afirma com orgulho.
Tomei uma série de fotos de Megumi quando a conheci no desfile de Carnaval do Rio de Janeiro em 2010. Alguns anos mais tarde, quando estávamos escolhendo imagens para a exposição de fantasias de Tokio em 2013 selecionamos uma foto dela para ampliar entre as de maior tamanho de toda a mostra. Alguém na organização reconheceu Megumi na fotografia e nos disse que era uma meninas japonesas que iria sambar na cerimônia de abertura.
Três anos mais tarde, temos a chance de saber mais sobre Megumi, uma embaixadora do samba no Japão. Megumi pasa em media 3 meses por ano no Rio, ela conta que tudo começou com uma tragédia.
Como foi que tudo começou?
Tudo começou com uma tragédia. Em janeiro de 1995 o histórico Terremoto de Hanshin atingiu Kobe afetando muito nossas vidas. Foi o pior terremoto do Japao no século passado, mais de 6.000 vitimas fatais e milhares de feridos, de um duro golpe para a economia Japonesa. Eu tinha apenas 9 anos. Minha mãe e eu tentamos manter o bom astral apesar da tragedia, pensamos muito o que fazer das nossas vidas e como ajudar aos nossos vizinhos para passar por este trágico acontecimento.
Um dia vimos em uma revista o anuncio de uma escola que ensinava Samba, fomos lá e sentimos que o samba tinha as boas vibrações e a energia que precisávamos nessa fase da nossas vidas.
Posso dizer que a terremoto de Hanshin me deu uma grande oportunidade que ao longo dos anos me levou a ser quem sou hoje, uma professora de dança que ama a sua profissão, e também uma passista na Sapucaí. Sou muito grata a minha mãe (Taeko) porque ela se manteve otimista e forte. Ela faz algumas das minhas fantasias favoritas e também samba…muito bem devo dizer.
Como você aprendeu a sambar, e como você se envolveu com a cultura do carnaval?
Bem, é uma longa história ... Como falei anteriormente, eu comecei a estudar Samba aos nove anos de idade. Tive a sorte de encontrar um professora de samba legal que me deu aulas por quase dez anos.
Mas teve uma hora em que eu pensei em passar um tempo no Brasil durante o carnaval seria uma ótima forma de melhorar a minha técnica.
Foi assim que aos dezenove anos, viajei ao Brasil sozinha para viver a experiência do Samba. Meu samba melhorou muito e pude conhecer melhor as pessoas do carnaval, passar tempo na comunidade.
Na volta ao Japão, me ofereceram ensinar Samba e eu aceitei, mas ainda achava que nao era boa o suficiente para ensinar profissionalmente, por isso decidi me envolver mais com o carnaval na fonte mesmo, por isso é que vou ao carnaval todos os anos.
Hoje você pertence a uma elite de dançarinas que conformam a "ala das passistas” no escola de samba Salgueiro, o que e considerado uma conquista para um dançarina das comunidades. Como você conseguiu chegar lá?
Durante essa primeira visita ao Rio de Janeiro em 2004, desfilei entre os foliões das escolas Portela e Tradição. Foi a minha primeira experiência no Sapucaí,
Naquela época, eu era um estudante com dificuldades para lidar com as obrigações universitarias e com a dança. Uma vez formada voltei ao Rio em 2008 e consegui passar um teste para a ala das passistas da Salgueiro.
Eu escolhi essa escola porque eu fiquei impressionada com a energia do Carlinhos, que é um dos coreógrafos principais da escola.
Como é a tua interação com os integrantes do grupo de sambistas de Salgueiro?
É uma grande honra fazer parte desse grupo. Me sinto abençoada de pertencer à equipe. Por ser de tao longe no inicio tive que trabalhar duro para ganhar o respeito deles, mas hoje me sinto maravilhosamente integrada.
Toda escola de samba tem uma passista que dança a frente da bateria, as rainhas. Existe alguma que você goste especialmente?
Há varias que eu gosto. Minha rainha favorita é Viviane Araújo da Salgueiro. Gosto também de Luana Bandeira da Estácio com quem somos amigas. Raissa de Oliveira da Beija Flor, e Evelyn Bastos da Mangueira são brilhantes. Evelyn esteve no Japão recentemente e numa oficina de trabalho deu valiosas dicas de dança à minha escola, a Feijão Preto. Nos divertimos muito juntas.
Você disse que tem uma escola de samba em Kobe, a Feijão Preto…
É uma escola de samba pequena que organizamos em Kobe.
Sempre que estou no Japão, nos reunimos para algum evento. Na escola eu sou a madrinha da bateria.
O nome também se tornou o meu apelido no Brasil. Muitas pessoas me chama feijão preto ao invés de Megumi
Depois de tantas viagens ao Brasil, o que você mais gosta de lá?
Muitas coisas. O povo brasileiro é o que eu mais gosto. As pessoas sao muito amigáveis, espontâneas, estão sempre sorrindo e ouvindo musica.
Gosto das paisagens encantadoras do Rio, onde quer que eu olhe parecem cartões postais.
A carne é muito saborosa no Brasil, assim como as frutas tropicais. A minha fruta favorita é o açaí.
Fora o Carnaval, que eu adoro. E uma festividade que revela a paixão do povo. Há muito drama e energia no samba, na cultura negra.
Ha alguma coisa que você sente que pode melhorar no carnaval?
Os ingressos para qualquer assento bom no desfile são muito caros, assim como os hotéis na época do carnaval. Sempre convido meus amigos do Japão para assistir os desfiles, mas fora a passagem essas despesas tornam a viagem extremamente cara.
Você ja e uma figura conhecida no carnaval carioca.
Quais são as tuas considerações sobre essa experiencia no carnaval do Rio?
Se passaram quase 22 anos desde que eu comecei a dançar samba.
Tive a sorte de encontrar algo no que botar minha energia, que me dá força e alegria.
Sou quem sou hoje por causa do samba. Houve momentos em que eu enfrentei situações difíceis mas o samba sempre me deu a força para seguir enfrente.
Qual é teu proximo desafio no carnaval?
Minha evolução como dançarina de Samba está sempre em progresso, sinto que todos os anos incorporo algum aprendizado na minha forma de sambar. Depois de tantos anos vejo com um dever passar o que aprendi para as novas gerações, mostrar aos meus alunos no Japão este ritmo que leva consigo a alegria do Brasil.
Voce e madrinha da bateria da tua escola Feijão Preto em Kobe, sera que um dia sera rainha de bateria de uma escola no Rio?
Acho que não... (risos) Quer dizer, e difícil de imaginar ao ver o talento e ginga das garotas do carnaval. Se acontecesse um dia seria mais um sonho feito realidade.
MEGUMI KUDO, Ambassador of samba in Kobe, Japan.
Megumi Kudo, 30, was born and raised in Kobe, a town of about one and a half million people which is located almost in the center in Japan. It is in the Kansai region, west of Osaka.
She is a fan of her hometown describing Kobe as a lovely, mid size city with lots to see around. Mountains, the sea and forests create a wonderful scenery. Kobe and Rio de Janeiro has both beautiful landscapes, she affirms with pride.
I took a series of photos of Megumi at Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival parade in 2010. A few years later when we were curating images for the 2013 RioCarnival exhibition in Japan we chose a photo of her for the larger size prints. Somebody in the organization recognized her in the image. Megumi was one of the Japanese girls scheduled to dance at the opening party.
Three years later we have a chance to know more about Megumi, an ambassador of Rio’s samba in Japan.
Megumi spends about 3 months in Rio de Janeiro almost every year to train and participates in Rio's Carnival as Passista (solo dancer) since 2009.
How did everything started?
It all started with a tragedy. In January 1995 the famous Great Hanshin Earthquake struck my hometown and of course the life of mine and so many people in Kobe. It was the worst earthquake to hit the country in the last century, killing 6,000 and injuring thousands of people. It was also a hard blow to the Japanese economy. I was just 9 years old at the time. My mom and I tried hard to stay positive and started thinking about what to do with our lives, and how we could help our neighbors to go through this tragic event. So we decided to dance since we felt that samba has the good vibes we needed, the energy to cheer us up at that phase of our lives.
Somehow I can say that the Great Hanshin gave me a great opportunity that over the years drove my life to who I am today. A dedicated dance teacher that loves her profession, a dancer at Rio’s Carnaval.
I am also very grateful to my mom because she was always positive. My mom (Taeko) dances samba very well and she has made some of my favorite costumes.
How did you learn the samba steps so well, and how you get acquainted with the culture of Carnival?
It is a long story…Like I mentioned earlier, I started learning Samba when I was nine years old. Fortunately I found a great dance teacher that thought me for about ten years.
Then at some point, I started thinking that going to Brazil would be the best way to excel in samba. So at age nineteen, I traveled to Brazil by myself to live the Samba experience. On my return to Japan, I got a offer to teach Samba in Japan. I did not hesitate to accept it but at the same time I was not confident that I was good enough to teach samba professionally, so I started to go to carnival every year since then.
Nowadays you belong to an elite of samba dancers that conforms the “wing of passistas” (solo dancers) at famed Salgueiro, which would be consider an great accomplishment for a local dancer. How did you manage to get there?
During that first visit to Rio de Janeiro in 2004, I participated in one of the wings with Portela and Tradição parades. That was my first experience at the Sapucai, At the time I was a college student so I had a hard time managing both my dance and studies but after I graduated from college, I visited Rio again in 2008 and passed a test for Salgueiro. I choose this school because I was very impressed with the the energy, passion and the amazing dance steps of Carlinhos do Salgueiro, who is the school’s head choreographer.
How is your interaction with the other Brazilian members of the samba squad of Salgueiro?
It is a great honor to be part of that selected team of dancers and I see the team as very close friends. I feel blessed to belong to the team because despite the fact that I am a foreigner, all the team members embrace me as just one of them.
I had to work extremely hard to gain their respect in the beginning but they treat me like I am one of them now which is absolutely wonderful.
Every samba school has a girl with great samba moves that become queen of drummers (rainha da bateria). Is there anyone you like specially?
There are many I like. My favorite queen of drummers is Viviane Araújo from Salgueiro. I also I like Luana Bandeira from Estacio, who is also a good friend of mine. Raissa de Oliveira from Beija Flor and Evelyn Bastos from Mangueira. are great. Evelyn have been to Japan recently and gave valuable dancing tips to the members of my samba school Feijao Preto. We have a lot of fun together.
What is your Feijao Preto?
It is my Samba team in my hometown, Kobe. Whenever I am in Japan, we get together to perform.
It also became my nickname in Brazil. Many people calls me Feijao preto instead of Megumi
After so many trips to Brazil, what do you like the most over there?
The Brazilians is what I love the most. They are very unique people… friendly, spontaneous and warm-hearted.
I also the scenery, wherever I look at in Rio de Janeiro it is like a postcard.
The meat is delicious in Brasil as well as the tropical fruits. My favorite is açaí.
And of course I love the carnival, the powerful, dramatic and energetic feelings from the party, that comes from the samba, from the black culture.
Anything that you feel it has room for improvement in the organization of carnival?
Good seat tickets to the parade are too expensive, as well as accommodations at that time of the year. I always invite friends from Japan but the airline ticket plus these expenses make it extremely expensive.
You have became well known in the inside world of Rio’s carnival.
What are your final thoughts on your relationship with Rio’s carnival?
It has been almost 22 years since I started dancing samba.
Now that I think about it, I was so lucky to find something that I can devote my energy to, something that gives me strength and fun.
I am standing here where I am today because of the samba. There were times when I faced tough obstacles but Samba always gave me the energy to go thru.
What is next for you in regard to samba?
My journey as a samba dancer is always in progress. It is my duty now to pass along the real Samba steps to the younger generation now and to make my students in Japan have fun with a rhythm that certainly embodies the joy of Brazil.
Maybe becoming Queen of drummers one day?
No way… (she laughs) It is hard to envision after seeing so many great dancers in Brazil… It would be like a dream come true if that ever happens.
Nelcimar Pires, Costume designer
He became an iconic name of Rio’s Carnival. He designs every year some of the most fabulous costumes called “Highlights” that go on top of the magnificent car-floats. He also runs a Fashion house where he creates wedding dresses for new brides.
His mesmerizing creations had traveled to shows and exhibitions across Brazil, Asia, North America and Europe.
How did you arrived to the world of carnival?
Carnival fascinates me from childhood, likely because of the wealth and diversity of materials, the possibility of dressing as characters from the past or future. I had to substitute my sister once in a luxury costume competition. Thrilled with the experience I never stopped since then.
The most luxurious costumes in the carnival parade come on top of the car floats, how did this become so iconic of the parade?
There were famous costumes competitions taking place in Teatro Municipal since the late thirties. Later on places like the Copacabana Palace, The Hotel Gloria, Monte Libano followed the trend. These glamorous competitions pushed the creativity of costume design to the utmost limits. It was the legendary designer Clovis Borney who came out with the practice of placing the “destaques” or Highlights on top of the car floats when he became carnavalesco in the early seventies. Since them all samba schools followed the trend. It is like the icing on the cake.
How long does it takes to create a costume for highlight. How many people does it involved?
It takes around six months from design to execution. My team usually involves eight to ten workers. The cost revolves around twenty to thirty thousands US dollars.
What would you change in the organization of the Rio Carnival parade?
There is a concern for making money at the expense of ethics, and suspicious source of sponsorship in some cases. It might sound naive but I would love to eradicate that, to keep the carnival fueled by the love of samba, the appreciation of our culture, like we see in the neighborhood Carnival festivals (blocos) all over Rio nowadays.
What had changed in the world of Carnival since your started, back in the eighties?
There is a lot of pressure now to win the competition, to please sponsors. Nevertheless I am optimistic, there is general a understanding of the carnival as being key in the creative economy of Rio de Janeiro, and I see people with good intentions in the making of the show.
Carnival entails some bad preconceptions. What is your reception when you exhibit your work abroad?
The prejudice has to do mostly with the display of skin, which is natural in Brazil and could trigger wrong ideas in other cultures where is taboo.
Besides, it is known that part of the funding of Samba schools comes from illegal gambling but fortunately things are slowly changing in this regard, with more scrutiny and private and public sponsorship funding the schools. My experiences abroad had been wonderful, I am treated like a celebrity in countries where I had so far exhibited my costumes, like Macao, Japan, Argentina, Canada, England, Switzerland.
In Rio de Janeiro you are known for your exuberant carnival costumes as well as the wedding dresses you design in your atelier. What side of your profession you are enjoying the most?
I love my work as designer, dealing with fabrics, with textures, researching, studying, dealing with art. Both sides of my profession make me extremely happy.
Is there a designer from past or present that you admire?
Yes, I have a deep admiration for Evandro de Castro Lima, a costume designer from Bahia that won numerous awards at the splendor of the costume design competitions, from 1959 until 1985. As a young kid I would look for articles about his creations in magazines, I followed his path and became the last Hors Concours of Rio de Janeiro. (this means your work is so good that you can not compete anymore). He was my great mentor.
Who is the more graceful queen of drummers you have seen in the sambadrome?
I like Sabrina Sato… She dances well and connects with the crowd like no one else.
Do you have a favorite samba school?
It is Imperatriz Leopoldinense. I have a strong bond with the people that works there since the day I stepped into their headquarters two decades ago.
Many times you mentioned your mother as your muse. How does she influence your creative process?
I need her always around the atelier for her companion, her clever insights on life and work. Also for her delicious cakes.
How is the sambadrome seen from the top of a car float?
Magnificent, I still feel goosebumps from head to toe every year. I can not move much up on top because the costume weights more than forty Kg. There is also a heavy metal structure behind me supporting the back of the dress. It is a great feeling of sharing the energy with the crowd. It is hard to hold the tears when I pass the most popular sectors, which are the more cheerful at the Sambadrome.
Your work was highlighted in our exhibition - Rio Carnival, “The greatest party on earth” in Tokyo, Japan. How was the reception of your work over there?
They are very curious in Japan, regulars visitors would asked me about the making of the costumes. kids loved playing with the percussion instruments that were on display. The exhibition explains what is the carnival parade about, which people outside Brazil usually don’t know how it works. I also had the honor to meet Junko Koshino, a famous Japanese designer who had designed very modern costumes for the Carnival in Sao Paulo. Tokyo was a wonderful experience.
What is your impression of Singapore?. It is likely the next destination of the Rio Carnival exhibition and an opportunity to show your work over there for the first time.
I have never been to Singapore but I know it is a country that welcomes cultural diversity, and therefore prompt to know more about Brazil and our more important cultural expression which is the Carnival.
Do you have a particular professional goal you wish to accomplish?
I have many and they are all related to the arts. But in regard to Carnival specifically I would love to see the splendorous costume competitions of the past revived and revitalized again in the future.
How do you imagine the Carnival celebration in the years to come?
There is lot of technology nowadays in the sambadrome. I hope this trend don’t make the carnival look sterile, nothing should be more important than the spontaneity, the passion of the festivity.
What is your favorite samba?
One that says…
"Don’t let the samba die, don’t let the samba ends, our hills are made of samba, made of samba for us to dance’
Note. You can hear a version of Nelcimar’s favorite samba on the link below.
Evelyn Bastos, Mangueira's Queen of Drummers
Located near the famous Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Hill of Mangueira is the most popular samba school in Brazil, mainly because of the extraordinary support of the community and the legendary performers that have been part of its history, like Cartola or Jamelao, just to name a couple of them.
The school won the first prize in the first parade held at the new Sambodrome in 1984, the year it was inaugurated. Since then Mangueira had been always among the top performing schools. It is also the oldest among the existing ones in Rio de Janeiro.
Evelyn Santos, just 21 years old, is since 2013 the Queen of Drummers of Mangueira, a position that comes with both responsibility and honor.
Since the mid-eighties, the media has been paying great attention to the position of Queen of Drummers, turning them into the celebrities of the parade. The Queen marches ahead of the percussion wing, which she is supposed to enchant and inspire with her dancing. For many years Mangueira had chosen Brazilian celebrities as their queen of drummers, but this changed in 2013 when the new directory decided to bestow that honor to a native of the Hill of Mangueira.
Evelyn’s unique style called my attention when I saw her at the Mangueira parade in 2014. This year she was once again a “hurricane of samba”, as some of her fans call her, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to have a chat with her.
How is your daily day as Mangueira’s Queen of Drummers?
I study physical education and the university takes a lot of my time. I give Samba workshops, and attend the events that Mangueira organizes in the neighborhood. My agenda gets extremely busy in the months prior to the parade, with media events and rehearsals.
What do you enjoy the most of living in Hill of Mangueira?
I love the daily interaction with my people in the streets, when I walk around and people affectionately call me queen. I am very attached to this community, where I grew up and everybody knows me.
It is said that the queen is the muse of the drummers. How do you inspire them at Mangueira?
The queen must bring with herself what the drummers represent. My drummers are electrifying, they are the genuine roots of the Carnaval of Mangueira and I fervently try my best to represent them.
Did you ever dream about becoming Queen of drummers of your samba school?
I think it is the dream of most girls here. I Have been dancing samba since I was four. My mother was also the Samba Queen in the late eighties. It is indeed a dream come true for me.
How did you learn to dance samba?
It is obviously in the family, and a heritage of the favela lifestyle. I was involved in many social projects related to music and samba at the Mangueira’s headquarters. Besides, I looked after older dancers and picked things here and there. I learn something every day, life is an endless learning process.
You shine at the parade with your unique style. How did you develop that theatrical pose that makes you to look so confident and in control of the stage?
First of all thanks for the compliment! I am very spontaneous; I guess I am moved by the love in my heart. Above all I want to show the passion for my samba school, and the overwhelming happiness of being representing my community.
What samba would you choose if you can only pick one?
There is one that I love called “Hundred years of freedom, reality and illusion, from the 1988 Mangueira parade. It talks about the struggle of black people to get recognition and equality in our society.
The last part says:
"The black people dance samba
The black people plays capoeira
They are King of the pink and green of Mangueira (pink and green are the colors of the school’s flag).
I think the message in the lyrics is powerful and very truthful.
Rio Carnival is a traveling exhibition that explains the carnival of Rio abroad. Do you have a message for the people in Asia about Rio’s Carnival?
This is a festivity of pure magic and beauty, a cultural dream come true. My message is to come by because they will love the carnival, which is our biggest cultural expression.
Photograph by Omar Montenegro
Jose Antonio Rodrigues Filho
He is president of Plumas and Paetes], (the name means in Portuguese Feathers and Sequins) a company founded in 2005 with the altruistic mission of giving recognition to the anonymous workers in the making of the Carnival, creating opportunities for them to improve their quality of life and their professions. Plumas and Paetes organizes an annual event that rewards the outstanding professionals in the making of “The Greatest party on earth”.
This event also pays tribute to iconic figures in the history of Rio’s Carnival.
How did you get involved with Rio’s carnival?
Back in 1994, friends invited me to join a samba school called Unidos da Ponte, that at the time was on the “Special group” (one of the top twelve schools that parade on Sunday and Monday). We bought the costumes from the schools and paid them in installments as usual. When we went to pick up the costumes to the residence of the president of our section on parade day, this woman was totally drunk, the costumes poorly built, not even finished. We were very eager to parade at the Sambadrome that night, so we rushed home to fix the costumes on our own.
That day I realized there was lot to do to improve in the universe of Carnival, that things should be done in a professional way. I started to look at Rio’s Carnival with constructive criticism. Later on I learned from friends and craftsmen the basics of costume design and production,became curious about the making of the whole spectacle, and more importantly about the legion of anonymous people working behind the scenes.
Do you still parade as before?
Not anymore. The company became over the years a well regarded project that demands dedication and impartiality from me.
How did you come out with The Plumas e Paetes Award?
Along with a friend of mine, Izaquis de Paulo, after the Carnival of 2005 we wanted to give recognition to the thousands of craftsmen and artists behind the scenes, in categories that comprise the making of Carnival. The award gives recognition to professions that were before seen as informal jobs.
Later on we found partners that supported our mission and the event started to be held annually.
How do you chose a subject or a person to highlight in the Plumas e Paetes magazine?
The choice is always based on the cultural legacy of that person had left to the field of Carnival, with is intrinsic to the cultural patrimony of Brazil. It is our attempt to communicate to the young generations the importance of these artists.
The choosen personality becomes the theme of our annual show and our magazine.
We had already paid homage to Clovis Bornay, Xango do Salgueiro, Braguinha, Cartola, Noel Rosa, Sargentelli, Arlindo Rodrigues, Donga, Chiquinha Gonzaga, the queens of radio. 2015 will be the turn of Elza Soares. They are all iconic figures of Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival.
Reading the Plumas and Paetes magazine I noticed an emphasis from the editorial on creative economy, could you explain why?
Carnival is a factory of dreams with a huge impact in the economy of the city of Rio de Janeiro. We want to create opportunities for the workers, developing awareness of the importance of their jobs in the prosperity of the local economy.
At the same time our actions intend to promote social insertion, a sense of respect for them. There are 87 carnival associations in Rio de Janeiro and around 125,000 citizens involved in a field that generates jobs, income, tourism and therefore welfare to the communities.
Since you have developed such critical view of the Carnival what would do you think that should change to make it better?
Some improvements have to do with services, like adding stores to the sambadrome selling souvenirs and services for the public like in world class entertaining events. For example, the sambadrome needs a diversity of healthy food, not just burgers and pizza.
Advanced Online ticketing would be also of great use.
We should provide better access to the sambadrome for the parading people and the general public.
All the seats should be numbered and equipped with cushion pads for comfort. The ticket entitles to a 7-8 hours show, a long time to endure in a concrete stand.
In term of access to the venue, I would implement a system in which when a person decides to leave the stands another can get access for half price, Therefore people without tickets outside the sambadrome would have a chance to see the show. Keep in mind that not everybody have the endurance to see all the parades.
Besides I would add a category called “interaction with the crowd”, that would be taking into consideration only in the event of draw by the judges.
What Carnival designers from past and present do you like?'
Fernando Pinto, Arlindo Rodrigues and Oswaldo Jardim were outstanding in their times. At present my favorites are Renato Lage, Alexandre Louzada and Fabio Ricardo..
Which one had influenced the most the modern era of Carnival, since the Sambadrome was built in 1984.
I think Renato Lage did, because of his creativity and courage to break the rules. He set a path that other designers are following nowadays. Carnival became more exciting as he brought splendid concepts, with innovative artistic solutions. He raised the Carnival to new levels. The show was in need of a new visual, in sync from the best shows in the world.
The Vanguard Commission of today, the section that introduces the school’s theme to the public have received criticism in recent years, alleging that it turned too theatrical, like a show on its own.
I like them a lot. The current innovation and fresh creativity is catching the attention of the crowd, that have lots of expectations on what the vanguard commission will come out with every year. Changes are welcome as long as they clearly convey the concept in a visually and artistic way.
Almost every year when the winner is chosen there are some questioning on the judging of each category. What would you change in the panel of judges to minimize recurrent complaints?
I would choose just professionals with proven competence of the subject each one is assigned to judge, and would renew them after two years.
I would switch judges between the Special Group and Access Group within short notice. This would prevent them to be influenced in their decisions by the samba schools.
I would ban from being judges those that had given in the past signals of impartiality.
I you have to choose just one samba song, which one would be?
Aquarela Brasileira a song by Silas de Oliveira that the samba School Imperio Serrano featured in 1964. This samba depicts the diversity and layers of Brazil,. The lyrics say in a subtle, poetic way beautiful verses that convey a colorful country, with diverse ethnicity, vast nature, that everything blends smoothly like a watercolor.
What muse of Carnival from past or present is your favorite?
Thatiana Pagung has an specially way to dance. She is pretty, smart, charismatic. She graduated from university, knows a lot about history of Carnival and Brazilian culture. In my opinion those are the key attributes to represent with honor a samba school.
Everybody in Rio seems to have a school of preference. What is yours?
Mocidade Independente (from Padre Miguel, a low income neighborhood located the West side of Rio de Janeiro)
O maior show da terra na Asia.
Na hora de fotografar na avenida Omar Montenegro prefere ir atras de mestre sala e porta bandeira, fantasias de luxo, passistas com bom samba no pé e os anônimos da festa que sorriem felizes no meio das alas. Fotografo, designer e produtor de eventos ele morou dez anos no Brasil entre Rio de Janeiro e São Paulo.
Desde Singapura, onde mora ha dois anos falou com Nelcimar Pires de sua exibição itinerante de Carnaval.
¿Como começou tua historia com o Carnaval do Rio?
Quando morava em Sao Paulo aos vinte e tantos anos ficava de madrugada assistindo os desfiles do Carnaval do Rio na televisão, queria dançar como Carlinhos de Jesus, conhecer as musas das escolas dos anos oitenta como a Monique Evans, ver de perto esses carros alegóricos majestosos. Mas não entendia a ordem das alas, nem a origem das escolas, ou a função do mestre sala, puxador, etc. Foi muito tempo depois que comecei a pesquisar, ler livros, conversar com gente “do carnaval” para entender o carnaval.
Passaram vinte anos para que me reencontrasse com o Carnaval, Eu estava morando na Tailândia. Marcinho Araújo, sambista da Rocinha que trabalhava na emblemática Paradise Video de Copacabana me comentou por e-mail que um grupo da escola na época dirigida por Maurício Mattos, estava indo a China para se apresentar na abertura do MGM Macau, um hotel cinco estrelas. Márcio me disse que levavam as melhores fantasias, e os melhores artistas da escola. São quase três horas de voo desde Bangkok, decidi viajar sem saber se poderia assistir ao evento. Com muita sorte poderia fotografa-lo. Deu tudo certo, Maurício Mattos gostou das fotos, consegui credenciamento para fotografar o Carnaval na Avenida através da empresa dele, Rio Samba e Carnaval, desde 2008 até hoje.
Foi em Macau que conheci o Nelcimar Pires. Pensei que era da organização, mas depois vi ele num ensaio passar com uma fantasia imensa e um monte de Chineses fotografando-o e me deparei que era destaque.
¿Como surgiu a ideia da exibição itinerante Rio Carnival “The greatest party on earth”?
Fiquei impressionado com a beleza e a riqueza das fantasias, achei que eram peças de alta costura num contexto Brasileiro. Pouco tempo depois fui numa exposição em Bangkok da estilista de moda Inglesa Vivienne Westwood e pensei que as criações belíssimas do Carnaval mereciam um cenário similar, e que podiam viajar pelo mundo numa exibição itinerante. Pensei na Asia porque e o continente que habito. Fiz uma esboço do conceito e pedi para minha esposa que e designer de interiores que me ajudasse a definir o projeto desde sua percepção Asiática. Foi assim que surgiu o primeiro esboço.
E um percorrido que nas distintas fases explicava o Carnaval com fotografias, vídeos e música A origem, a historia, como e feito, o carnaval moderno. Fora do Brasil as pessoas tem uma interpretação estereotipada do Carnaval. E simplificado em nudez, samba, bagunça, paixão. A exposição quer mostrar que é uma manifestação cultural muito mais complexa, e que ha milhares de pessoas anônimas que constroem com trabalho digno a maior festa do mundo. Expõe também o efeito da economia criativa no estado do Rio gerando empregos e inserção social.
Tudo isto ao redor das fantasias e da música do Carnaval do Rio.
¿Como foi que conseguiu levar a exibição ao Japão?
Fizemos os primeiros desenhos do exibição em 2009 e conseguimos inaugura-la em Tóquio em Outubro de 2013. Foi um intenso trabalho de marketing com bastante sorte pois uma empresa Japonesa que queria fazer um evento sobre o Brasil contatou a embaixada no Japão, que já tinha recebido minha carta com um folheto da proposta. Toshi Maeda, diretor da empresa Brain Corporation em Tóquio, foi me ver em Bangkok duas vezes e eu viajei outras tantas prévio ao evento.
No total foram umas trinta fantasias, divididas em vários espaços, com cabines de música, uma sala mostrando vídeos do desfile da rede NHK do Japão. Contamos com o apoio de Turkish Airlines entre outros patrocinadores.
Foi uma experiência fantástica, que confirmou minha esperança de que querendo muito alguma coisa, um dia se torna realidade. Ficou em exibição por 90 dias num espaço ideal no complexo comercial Sunshine City.
¿Depois de Japão a exibição foi a Cingapura em 2016?
Foi um evento com três fantasias de luxo do Nelcimar numa festa privada que serviu para mostrar a prováveis patrocinadores a qualidade das fantasias visando uma exibição maior.
Mas também aproveitamos a ocasião para fazer uma palestra numa das melhores universidades de Asia, na faculdade de Moda da Nanyang Technology University, chamada “Criando a maior festa do mundo”. O embaixador do Brasil em Singapura na epoca, Luís Fernando de Andrade Serra presidiou o evento. Nelcimar Pires falou sobre a elaboração das suas fantasias, e depois respondeu perguntas de alunos e professores sobre o Carnaval do Rio.
¿Como foi que escolheu ao Nelcimar?
Eu fiquei deslumbrado com as fantasias que levou a Macau. Nos anos seguintes fiquei de olho nele na Avenida, quando vinha o Nelcimar como destaque da Imperatriz ou da Salgueiro eu subia na torre da Sapucaí para fotografá-lo de perto no alto do carro alegórico.
Depois do meu primeiro contato a interação ia bastante devagar, achei que ele não entendia a magnitude do projeto. Foi ai que concordamos com o Toshi Maeda, o meu sócio no Japão, que eu tinha que viajar a Campos de Goytacazes e conversar pessoalmente com ele. Nelcimar chegou na estação de ônibus me pegar com um amigo que pensei que era o motorista. Fui no ateliê, me mostrou as fantasias, conheci a adorável Tilma, mãe dele. Achei a cidade aconchegante e voltei a Asia confiado de que tudo iria dar certo.
Afinal Nelcimar Pires providenciou as fantasias de destaque e também foi o curador do resto das fantasias.
¿Que planos tem para o futuro da exibição?
O próximo passo e leva-la em grande escala a Cingapura em 2017 e tomara que possamos ir a Coreia do Sul no mesmo ano.
Quero incluir palestras e oficinas de trabalho em Universidades com designers e carnavalescos. No futuro gostaria que um museu importante de arte moderna na Asia exponha fantasias do Carnaval do Nelcimar e outros grandes estilistas do Carnaval. Vários museus tem me oferecido o espaço mas a verba para implementação tem que vir de empresas privadas ou do governo Brasileiro, que tem suas prioridades. É um projeto feito com paixão mas ao margem do cotidiano do meu estúdio.
¿Que leva de positivo a Rio Carnival sobre o carnaval para o mundo afora?
Mostra que e talvez a maior expressão cultural do Brasil, explica com textos e fotografias como se faz nos barracões, leva a pessoas que talvez nunca poderão fazer a viagem ao Brasil um pouco do original. Talvez possa inspirar alguém a viajar ao Carnaval no futuro, ou que jovem estudantes de moda encontrem inspiração nessas fantasias magnificas e exuberantes. E principalmente que possam explicar o carnaval além dos estereótipos.
Revista Nelcimar Pires
Megumi Kudo, passista (solo dancer)
Salgueiro Samba School
Interview in Portuguese and English
Evelyn Bastos, Queen of Drummers
Mangueira Samba School
Jose Antonio Rodrigues Filho
Photographer and producer