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Nicki Salcedo in Rio – The city nearby

D'ish Decatur Metro ATL

Nicki Salcedo in Rio – The city nearby


Editor’s note: In lieu of her usual column, this week “Intersections” columnist Nicki Salcedo will be sending us updates from the 2016 Olympics in Rio. 

By Nicki Salcedo, contributor 

Rio is famous for samba. I thought this was just a style of dance and music associated with Carnivale, but it is also a tie to community and history in the favelas across the city. I visited GRES Estação Primeira de Mangueira. I wish my Portuguese was good enough for me to pronounce this correctly.

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This is a hat a samba dancer might wear while wearing heels and dancing for hours. Let’s be very clear that these dancers are athletes.


The samba schools teach children in the community skills including costume design. Samba culture is more than just dancing and music.

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The floats for the parade are a culmination of artistic design, engineering, and manufacturing. Children in the favelas learn to dance and play music, but they also learn the technical side of the samba culture such as building the float. The samba house has a direct relation to the community in the surrounding favela.

The floats are made out of foam material and are very light. Someone sculpts the foam and plastic molds may be applied followed by paint. Many of the floats are recycled to smaller samba houses at the end of the season.


I had a chance to design a mask and dance during my tour. I had no idea how educational a tour of a samba house could be.

The next time you see carnival, remember it is more than just fun music and beautiful dancers. It is an important part of the culture of Brazil.

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