Monday, February 11, 2013

'The greatest party on Earth': Rio Carnival reaches its breathtaking climax as thousands of scantily-clad samba dancers gyrate through the streets in an explosion of music and colour


Party time: This float from the Unidos da Tijuca samba school featured almost completely nude men and women dancing on top of giant glasses of beer
Marry me? A dancer professes his undying love for one of the drum girls to rapturous applause from the crowds
Record hopes: The city hoped to attract around 2.3 million people to the festival in one single day but fell short when only 1.8 million visitors arrived
Extravagant: Revellers of Unidos da Tijuca samba school perform during the first night of Carnival parade at the Sambadrome
Who knows? These dancers appeared to be dressed as angels... but it wasn't always easy to tell what everybody was dressed as
Sheer Wonder: There was even a Stevie Wonder-themed float with a giant figure of the blind musician at a piano
Well dressed: Apart from the scantily-clad dancers there was also hoards of others dressed in highly elaborate costumes
Diving into the action: Performers from the Uniao da Ilha do Governador school parade on a sea-themed float led by five white dolphins
Hello sailor: It wasn't just the girls who got into the spirit of the festivities
In a spin: Revellers of the Salgueiro samba school show off their twirling
Serious competition: The epicentre of the celebrations in Rio de Janeiro hosts dance schools' performances that are watched by audiences and judges
The breast party in Brazil: Dressed in little more than feathers and high heels, thousands of women battled it out for the coveted position of Queen of the Carnival, which is renowned for being a symbol of youth, beauty and sex


Five days of fun: Sunday night saw six samba schools showcase their mesmerising allegorical pageantry before a global television audience, the highlight of a five-day extravaganza
Doing it for the boys: Male revellers of the Salgueiro samba school skip through the streets in drag
Between the wings there are several floats separating the sections. Most of the floats are pushed by men from the school's community, though some are motorised.
Spectacle: The internationally renowned competition between 12 elite samba groups dazzles more than a billion spectators for two days




Elaborate: Preparation for the show starts months in advance, and each school mobilises thousands of supporters who create the various parts of the school's display

Unclothed: Some of the performers wear little more than glitter to hide their modesty

Feathers and glitter: A reveller of Portela samba school performs during the first night of Carnival parade
Celebrity style: The Academicos do Salgueiro samba school performed to a paparazzi theme
Procession: Various samba schools each have around 3,500 to 4,000 performers
Themed: Each samba school has their own distinct theme. The parades will last five days, from the evening to the next morning
Flying tiger: The Brazilian carnival originated in the 19th century with small street performances but soon evolved into a grand visual feast
Bossa nova: Performers from the Uniao da Ilha do Governador school played hundreds of musical instruments as they walked

Extravagant: The floats are so elaborate that some take all year to build
Addicted to fun: Many of those dedicated to the roller-coaster of Carnival preparations describe it as an 'irresistible addiction'
Fiery climax: The first school to perform was Inocentes de Belford Roxo, with a colorful homage to Korean culture
Happy snap: Performers from the Academicos do Salgueiro samba school paraded second in line
Floats: Between the wings there are several floats separating the sections. Most of the floats are pushed by men from the school's community, though some are motorised
Long time in the making: It takes nearly a year and hundreds of workers, many of them volunteers, to pull the spectacular show together
In spite of the dreamlike aspect of the procession, the creative process is very planned and meticulous, Szaniecki said. The materials, colours, even the equipment used, are all specified in instructions.
School of rock: The Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel samba school turned their float into a tribute to music with a Statue of Liberty playing an electric guitar
Tire-ing: Some dancers were forced to work much harder than others like these performers who had to carry model cars in the parade
Complex task: Despite of the dreamlike aspect of the procession, the creative process is very planned and meticulous
Golden girl: A reveller of Academico do Salgueiro samba school performs on top of a float, left, and performers from the Inocentes de Belford Roxo samba school parade, right
Che reaction: Performers from the Academicos do Salgueiro samba school wear clothes covered with the face of Che Guevara
Different themes: Themes of each float vary hugely, from Viking mythology, left, to Halloween, right
Fearsome: Some of the themes were altogether rather scary such as this
Killer Queen: A performer from the Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel samba school performs as Queen's Freddie Mercury



School of Rock: Performers from the Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel samba school
Modest: Not everyone wore next to nothing at the show as these revellers of Portela samba school reveal
Duke box: Performers from the Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel samba school sing and dance to a duke box theme.