Joãosinho Trinta, the former ballet dancer who reinvented Rio’s Carnival, incorporating luxurious elements and extreme creativity to the popular parade, died today. Controversial, he was frequently criticized by traditional sambistas, that felt that his huge, elaborate carnival floats and the use of some extreme resources, like individual flying machines, would hide the talent of dancers and musicians.
These three videos show Joãosinho Trinta at his best, leading escolas de samba Beija-Flor de Nilópolis and Viradouro to multiple Carnival awards. (And sorry – I was very unimpressed by the quality of the footages available on the web.) Continue reading Great Carnivals of Joãosinho Trinta→
You may question the narration and its predictable cliches and prejudices, but these historic footages are true gems. Tough to choose a favorite (ok, if you insist, the 1932’s and the 1955’s are the best).
1932 – Includes a pretty disgusting scene where the narrator mentions the “infinite variety of tropical animals” found downtown, while the camera closes on a cute little Black girl. Also to be noted the comment that carioca’s resent the monopoly of the word Americans by those born in the States. Pay attention also on the explanation about the “butterfly industries” and the ornamental black and white stone pavements.
“Not men, not women. People”, was their revolutionary motto. They were the Dzi Croquettes, an irreverent androgynous theater company directed by Broadway chorus line dancer Lennie Dale that defied the dictatorship and inspired a whole generation of carioca artists. The so-called besteirol theatre (anarchic, hilarious and politically incorrect) and several slang words and expressions ( Tá boa, santa?) are remnants of their influence.
They became so popular that their performances were finally forbidden, and they decided to tour Europe, where they conquered Paris and even appeared in a Claude Lelouch’s movie. “When I die, I want my show substituted by the Dzi Croquettes”, said legendary diva Josephine Baker. Continue reading Dzi Croquettes – Rio’s revolutionary cabaret→
Almost all Brazilian cities were constructed around a central square which generally includes the main church or cathedral, gardens, cement benches, a fountain and, in many cases, also the city hall and a prison. Frequently, there is also a bandstand that may host musical shows or political speeches. Check some of these cool examples of bandstands – coretos in Portuguese – and feel the nostalgia.
Azulejos, the very typical Portuguese white and blue tilework, can still be found in several Brazilian cities, generally remnant from the colonial years. They began to arrive in the country around 1630 and were used to adorn churches, monasteries, palaces and other mansions. Check this series of images of azulejos seen in the states of Bahia, Rio, São Paulo and Maranhão.
The photos made by Marc Ferrez during the last years of the Empire and the beginning of the Republic regime are the best register of life in Rio between the mid 1860s and the late 1910s. He left more than 5,000 images, most of them portraying the city, then the Brazilian capital.
Nowhere in Rio you get a better view of the coast and the gorgeous geography than from the top of the favelas. These shantytowns have been included in city tours for a while, in part because of their strategical location,in part because of their music tradition, or because of their mystique. The favela reality is frequently misunderstood both by those who dream of this mystique and those who equal these environment to a drug-infested mob-headquarter. Neither is accurate, of course.
This wonderful series of videos can offer a vision closer to reality. They interview and follow residents of 9 favelas cariocas while they show their houses, the little bars and soccer fields, the landscape and daily lives.
Enjoy the tour:
1 – Santa Marta – this video, produced by Pedro Serra, with subtitles in English, introduces the favela where Michael Jackson made the 1996 “They Don’t Care About Us” video clip.
Samba is not necessarily joyful. Nelson Cavaquinho was one of the great masters of melancholic samba. Death and lack of hope are constant in his more than 600 songs. In one of his masterpieces, “A flor e o espinho” (the flower and the thorn), he sings: “Tire o seu sorriso do caminho/Que eu quero passar com a minha dor/Hoje pra você eu sou espinho/ Espinho não machuca flor /Eu só errei quando juntei minh´alma à sua
O sol não pode viver perto lua” (Take your smile away/Because I want to pass by with my pain/ Today I am a thorn for you/ A thorn doesn’t hurt a flower/ My only mistake was to add my soul to yours/ The Sun cannot live close to the Moon).
In this controversial and beautiful 1969 short documentary by Leon Hirzman, the composer is shown at home, at Mangueira shanty town, singing, opening his heart, drinking, offering beer to a kid. It doesn’t have English subtitles, but it has few dialogues anyway.
One of the greatest art museums in the country, Rio’s Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, just reopened after a three-year remodelling. Its Modern and Contemporary art collections are important, but it’s the 19th century collection, with over 4,000 pieces, that catches the visitors’ attention.
Here are some of the best pieces of the new gallery dedicated to that period, all very epic – or at least theatrical: Continue reading The best colection of 19th century Brazilian art→