The spirit of Carnaval returns to the city

Samba Fusion dancers. | Photo courtesy of Samba Fusion

Samba Fusion dancers. | Photo courtesy of Samba Fusion

Carnival is deeply rooted in Latin American culture. Originally, it was meant as a chance to indulge before a prolonged period of fasting in the springtime. Even today there is still a widely felt sense of free-spirited stress release in the air wherever carnival is celebrated.

Carnaval del Sol, it’s where we all shine together,” says Andrea Monteiro, artist coordinator and stage manager.

From July 9–10 the annual Carnaval del Sol festival is the highlight of Vancouver’s Latin American Week. The festival has enjoyed phenomenal growth over the past seven years and is now the largest of its kind in the entire Pacific Northwest.

The free two-day event is designed to “engage and connect Vancouver’s rapidly growing Latin American and other communities,” according to Latincouver’s executive director Paola Murillo.

“It’s a celebration of Latin American culture and an opportunity to immerse oneself in the carnival atmosphere,” she says.

Samba Fusion shares Brazilian carnival

This will also mark the fifth year that Samba Fusion and its founder Monteiro and co-founder Carine Carroll will perform as part of the celebrations.

“This is a great chance to expose Canadians to our culture and bring together Brazilian culture and the diversity of many different Latin American countries,” says Monteiro.

Samba is popular in Brazil’s culture and hence continuously absorbs and transforms global influences. “We always challenge ourselves to research and to bring something new each year to events like this as cultural ambassadors,” adds Carroll.

Integrating cultural creative expressions

Representing a region as vast as Latin America successfully hinges on authenticity and the dedication of individual local community members regardless of whether they perform, create dishes, paint works of art, or teach dance patterns. Every detail receives careful attention.

“[For example] the talented dancers of Samba Fusion also design and make their own elaborate costumes,” says Monteiro. At the same time their original choreography is the product of a creative communal process that incorporates individual contributions from each ensemble member.

“We are looking forward to performing for Carnaval del Sol this year to introduce new faces as we have a larger group now,” she adds.

Carnival expresses a way of life

The faces of Samba Fusion. | Photo courtesy of Samba Fusion

The faces of Samba Fusion. | Photo courtesy of Samba Fusion

Samba music and dance are inspired by South America’s rich heritage and combine Aboriginal, African and European influences that continuously evolve,” Carroll explains.

Carnival is the highlight of the year, but there is much more to it.

“The samba schools of Brazil practise and prepare year-round,” says Carroll. “It’s a way of life that brings together different generations and entire communities.”

In some ways the same dedication is reflected in Vancouver’s own Brazilian community. Together with local musicians, Samba Fusion also performs regularly at Brazilian restaurants and many neighbourhood events around town throughout the year. Dance lessons, rehearsals, and sometimes sharing the stage with different musicians bring the Latin community together.

“In a way, Samba Fusion has been growing with Carnaval del Sol over the years,” Carroll observes.

Vancouver’s Latin American artists

Altogether, over 350 artists from different Latin American countries are scheduled to perform on various stages throughout the weekend.

“This is a unique opportunity to see so many popular Latin American bands and performers as part of the same event,” says Monteiro.

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