Brazil Inside Out - Rio, Carnival 2003
Rio's samba schools are organised into six competitive leagues which compete over four days. The winning school of each league parades on the fifth day.
The biggest samba schools have up to 5,000 participants and take up to two hours to parade down the Sambodromo runway in Rio de Janeiro.
Each school is judged on a range of criteria, from the school's central theme to the drumming section and, of course, the dancing, the floats and the costumes.
Carla is the 'porta-bandeira' - flag bearer - of her local samba school, Vila Isabel, and worked all year round preparing for the parade, which kicked off the Carnival. She had to hold the school flag during an elaborate dance routine with her consort. The samba school followed on behind with an army of percussionists known as the 'bateria'. The school's theme for this year's parade was the work of Oscar Niemeyer, the famous architect of Brazil's capital city, Brasilia.
CARLA'S CARNIVAL DIARY - DAY 1 - THE PREPARATIONS
The preparations are going well, without any problems, thank God. The costumes are ready, the float is ready, it's very beautiful. I dance with Carlos Leonardo. We've been dancing together at the school for 12 years. I started dancing with him when I was 14. There are 3000 participants of the school, but only we, as a couple, represent the new Vila Isabel headquarters that Oscar Niemeyer is designing. Everything has to do with the theme. Everything on the parade will reflect what Oscar does.
It's like theatre. We show it all through dance, so it's a difficult job which requires a lot of concentration. Leonardo and I did the choreography ourselves. In this dance, if we lose a tenth of the score, the school loses the competition. Which is just what happened in 2000. The couple messed up, they lost six points, and the school was demoted from the Special Group. There was a problem with the costumes, they arrived late and they did the presentation in a hurry.
This year, we're hoping to get back into the Special Group. On Friday, we're going to stay in a hotel especially reserved for us. We'll sleep there so there won't be any problems, and we don't get tense or ill. It's also close to the parade runway.