Rio de Janeiro's samba schools vie for title

Associated Press + More

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio de Janeiro's samba schools vied for the title of the year's best Monday in an over-the-top, all-night-long Carnival parade at the city's iconic Sambadrome.

The powerful percussion sections, larger-than-life floats and nearly nude samba dancers of six top-tier schools paraded, while six other schools, including reigning champion Unidos da Tijuca, had their moment in the sun on Sunday. Results will be announced later in the week.

One of the oldest and most traditional schools, Mangueira, wowed the crowd with its parade dedicated to the central Brazilian city of Cuiaba. Thousands of dancers streamed through the Sambadrome in elaborate costumes kitted out with headdresses depicting local fauna in Cuiaba, like ant eaters, armadillos and snakes.

Samba dancers wearing only feather headbands, artfully draped beads and shimmering gold body paint danced atop a 24-karat float embellished with glinting sculptures of Indian warriors.

When, due to some apparent technical snafu, the sound went out, the crowd clapped to the rhythm and the dancers continued their fancy footwork.

Another historical school, Beija Flor, paid homage to a Brazilian race of horse, the Mangalarga Marchador, in its parade. Floats included a giant Trojan horse and one decorated with Mesopotamian carts.

The Sambadrome parades are the highlight of Rio's six-daylong Carnival extravaganza, which also includes hundreds of block parties which attract hundreds of thousands of costumed revelers.

Carnival wraps up on Ash Wednesday.

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