Carnaval Brasileiro Austin landed on Feb. 4 this year. Upon entering the glass doors of the Palmer Event Center, the night suddenly encompassed constant motion, constant dancing—the never-ending rhythms of samba, batucada/bateria (percussion), march, frevo and trio electrico. Bodies swayed as sounds moved like fluid through the indoor stadium.
Carnaval Austin has been labeled the largest indoor Brazilian festival in the world, this year holding up to 5,500 enthusiasts. Traditionally, Austin’s Carnaval has a theme to which the samba dancers perform and to which the attendees can willingly dress up; this year, Carnaval’s theme was The Wizard of Oz.
The evening was organized by a series of musical performances. The endless dancing was provided by several 90-minute sets from Beleza Brazil (formerly Grupo Saveiro) vibrantly beating to the rhythms of sambas, marches and frevos on stage. In between sets, Carnaval featured a spectacular showcase with the percussionists and samba dancers of Acadêmicos da Ópera.
The group performed their interpretation and reenactment of The Wizard of Oz. Characters, such as Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin man, The Cowardly Lion, The Wizard, Glinda the Good Witch and The Wicked Witch of the West—even the flying monkeys—were represented in the performance. Emerald green and silver colors coated the dancers. In order to enhance the visual appeal, groups of samba dancers were decorated in gaudy metallic silver to represent The Tin Man, straw skirts to represent the Cowardly Lion, bright yellow and silver costumes for The Scarecrow. Dorothy wore ruby shoes, the witches wore hats and the Wizard of Oz, himself, wore a stunning green suit with a matching hat.
The audience was carried away with the spirit of the festival; people were either dressed as Wizard of Oz characters or dressed in the original Carnaval style of dress—enormous feathered wings, boas, beaded brassieres, sequined masks, feathered hats and body paint. The majority of the audience wore face paint, glitter or elaborate makeup on their faces. Though, the most prominent choice of style, without a doubt, was wearing hardly anything at all. The night carried on with the echoing of laughs, rhythmic drums, the ruffling of elaborate skirts and feathered hats. The night was preserved with the essence of celebration, music and glorious Brazil.
All photos by Kristie Bocanegra.