Samba Schools Prepare for a Carnival that Might Not Happen

Some carnavalescos make plans, while other associations still don't have a theme

São Paulo

With the novel coronavirus pandemic raging around the world, next year's Carnival hangs in uncertainty. Meanwhile, carnavalescos, the carnival creative directors that design a school's participation, continue to work. However, government officials are already admitting that Brazil may go without the party next year.

"Carnival work starts early. The pandemic allowed us to have more time to read, research, and put in the maximum amount of work, which on the one hand is good", says André Machado, 45, a carnival artist from Colorado do Brás, an elite carnival school in São Paulo. "But I'm creating and developing everything with a lot of uncertainty, and that ends up leaving me a little discouraged," he says.

Siga Bem Caminhoneira street band - Siga Bem Caminhoneira/Reprodução/Facebook

Machado is creating the drawings and models for the school theme, which will pay tribute to the writer Carolina Maria de Jesus. "This model brings a sense of what would be a favela [in Brazil] in the 1960s, to understand better [this part of the theme]", he explained.

"How many people live professionally because of Carnival? That's what worries me. Carnival is not just a celebration, it is the biggest cultural event in Brazil," said Jorge Freitas, the Carnival creative director from Mancha Verde.

The president of the Independent League of Samba Schools of São Paulo, Sidnei Carrioulo, told Folha that there is no official decision on the matter, which, according to him, will be analyzed without haste.

"We have talked little with public agencies because I think it is silly to open negotiations now. It would be a bit unpleasant to do at the moment," Carrioulo said.

"I would say that August is the 'deadline month' for us to know whether or not there will be Carnival. But first, we need to worry about our health," he said.

The party, which does not take place only in sambódromos and avenues and, increasingly, gathers millions of people in street parties around electric trios scattered around the cities, leaves a legion of revelers with doubts about their future.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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