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Carnavalesco and Fejoada

Today we got to talk to a carnavalesco who is a 23 year veteran of the field. He works with all sorts of schools, from top tier schools such as Mangueira to local schools to parades in other parts of the country. His talk today was about how traditional folk art aspects of Brazilian life have been integrated into the parades that you can see around Brazil. Jose, the carnavalesco, did not speak fluent English so Araceli translated for him.

While Jose was speaking it was clear that he loved what he does. One question that we asked him was how an individual becomes a carnavalseco. He said there are various ways and his took an untraditional path to working with Carnival. Jose said that he has always loved Carnival and began following the parades at a young age. At the age of 20 he was able to participate in his first parade. Then he went to school to become an architect but during an economic downturn he was laid off from his firm. This is when his life took a turn. He was depressed about not having a job and couldn’t figure out where to go next. Then an old professor turned friend asked him what he loves and he said “Carnival!” They asked him if we would be interesting in working for a school and he replied, “How do I get a school to hire me? I can’t just walk up and knock on their door and say ‘Will you give me a job?’” The friend asked him what he would do if a school approached him to work for them and he said of course he would take the job then. Little did he know his friend had arranged for a school to take Jose on as a carnavalesco for that year’s parade. For six years Jose worked for free as a carnavalesco, making money with free-lance architect jobs, until one day he was hired by a top tier school!

After Jose told us his story and educated us on the background of folk art in Carnival he taught us how to dance a certain type of Samba. Once dance time was over we were served a traditional Brazilian meal of fejoada, which is a rice and bean and meat stew. I thought the meal was delicious and would have gone back for more if it wasn’t for the fact that I gave myself heartburn by eating too fast.

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