Escolas de Samba are not actually ‘schools’. In 1928, the first carnival performance froup – initially called Deixa Falar, later Estácio de Sá – was created in Rio de Janeiro by samba composer Ismael Silva. From Rio, the custom of having parades by escolas de samba spread to other cities of Brazil.
Contrary to what the name suggests, the samba ‘schools’ do not give samba lessons per se. Each samba group organizes its annual parade and holdsa parties and rehearsal presentations all year round. Many samba groups actively participate in the community and carry out social projects.
Escolas de samba have a defined structure, including a president, a carnavalesco (creative director), the samba-enredo (annual theme song with lyrics) puxador-de-samba (leading samba singer who keeps the beat going), and the disnguished couple that leads the parade. The parade consists of the porta-bandeira (holder of the samba group’s banner) and the mestre-sala (master of ceremonies), bateria (percussion section), many carros alegóricos (theme floats) and numerous ala (wings, or sections), notably that of the baianas, traditional women from Bahia wearing hoop skirts, lace blouses, headcloths, panos-da-costa (traditional shawls), sandals, necklaces, earrings and costume jewelry.
Mestre-sala & Porta-bandeira
The contestant samba group compete for points awarded after the parade according to the rules. Depending on the results of the count the groups move on to be semifinalists and finalists.
Each announcement of finalists brings fervent bursts of emotion and celebration. The categories are: themes an d accessories, percussion section, opening section, evolution, lyrics, costumes, harmony, master of ceremonies and banner holder, and the samba-enredo.
Despite I being Brazilian, I don't like Carnival, Samba schools and stuff like that, but it's still part of the culture of my people. Haha :D