On Monday evening, despite the snow and cold weather, the Cornerstone Main Space was filled with excitement. The cause for celebration? Carnaval.
Several dozen Colorado College students, community members, and special guests gathered to play music, dance, and enjoy dinner in honor of the Brazilian Carnaval.
“Carnaval marks the start of Lent, embracing the excessive consumption of much of what is proscribed during the Christian period of abstinence that follows,” Mitra Ghaffari ’17 said. “At its core, Carnaval is a reversal ritual, in which social roles are inverted and hegemonic norms are challenged. The masks and costumes employed during the festivities empower a liberated identity and sense of social unity.”
The event featured a percussion workshop led by Vincent Gonzalez, and a samba-dancing workshop and performance with Kebrina Josefina De Jesus, followed by dinner and more celebration. The percussion workshop was an interactive performance where many participants learned how to play rhythms on several types of drums and other percussion instruments.
“The workshop gave people a taste of what these instruments do and what they sound like,” Gonzalez said.
De Jesus led an enthusiastic workshop to teach audience members two types of samba dancing. She is Puerto Rican by birth but originally from New York. She now runs Samba Colorado, a dance company based in Denver/Boulder. She and some of the other Samba Colorado dancers just returned from spending two months in Brazil, where they learned more about Brazilian Samba. De Jesus also teaches introductory samba classes to CC students.
“I liked having people come in to teach us about cultures from other countries,” Anusha Khanal ‘21 said.
Following the dancing, food was served, and the celebration continued for an additional two hours as students and community members took some time to experience a new culture and type of celebration.
Brazilian Carnaval was sponsored by the Brazil Club and the Carnivore Club. The Carnivore Club collaborated with the local Little Brazil Restaurant to provide free dinner to everyone. The Carnaval celebration has been held in the past, but the addition of food was new.
“This year we’re expanding the festivities with Brazilian appetizers and barbecue, video projections of Salvador and Rio de Janeiro’s 2018 celebrations, and a Carnaval Performance by Samba Colorado, followed by a open-floor dance party,” Ghaffari said.
The video projections helped display how truly massive and community-centered Brazilian Carnaval celebrations can be. According to Gonzalez, entire Brazilian neighborhoods practice and prepare for their Carnaval parade performance for months in advance. They often involve musical instruments, dancing, and elaborate costumes.
Ghaffari recently spent time in Rio de Janeiro, to celebrate Carnaval. In a short time, she was able to experience the wide variety of events that celebrate Carnaval.
“Rio’s Carnaval has become the largest in the world, with about 500 different street parties over the course of the week, many attracting 10,000 to 100,000 people,” Ghaffari said. “There are about 200 samba schools that perform with elaborate costumes and floats during the Sambódromo parade. Intricate, creative costumes and themed parties fill the entire city, and the energy on the streets is out of control. The party never stops; it goes on 24/7, officially, but the Carnaval celebrations started over a month ago and will continue through this month.”