Hope and Overcoming

While the warehouses of three ‘escolas de samba’ (samba schools) were in flames –on the first days of February last year, in Rio de Janeiro-, their members and fans were in tears. Their crying, however, was not enough to put out the fire: Portela, Uniao da Ilha and Grande Rio saw how their costumes and floats got decimated and burned down. In a huge supporting gesture after the accident, several other escolas financially assisted those affected; and also lent them resources so that they could partially rebuild the ‘allegories’. The Escolas-de-samba League cooperatively allowed them to parade anyway, no matter the condition they might be able to reach by the beginnings of march (date of the 2011 carnival).

Yet, when the time came for Grande Rio to parade, adversities seemed not to have ceased. As they had to perform under torrential rain, their dancers slipped a couple of times and hit hard on the wet floor (sprains included). Finally, they ended up with the bitter taste of a carnival which they initially wanted to fight for and do very well in, spoiled by a collection of unexpected circumstances that caused real damage. More tears, disappointment and frustration.

Rain during that 2011 parade and really slippery for poor dancers

Nevertheless, several weeks after that unfortunate 2011 carnival, sorrow ended. Displeasure, once threatening to persist for ever, somehow finished. Anguish in the chest vanished. What made this change possible? The force of those people. Strength of their coordinators, their musicians and their art directors. Which, as they later highlighted, is strength that “exists within us all”. Someone came up with a simple tune: <<Those who saw me crying, will see me smiling…>>. And, step by step, they rebuilt their passion.

The idea of making a new carnival began to get a shape… supported on hope, on overcoming. On being able to move on after life’s hardest episodes, either because of mistakes we made or because of reasons absolutely out of our own will. And thus more verses came to light. The song was becoming reality. (In fact, by clicking here you can access the webpage of escola Grande Río and listen to their music). <<I believe in you for challenge… To fight and not to quit, to come back to life from ashes… I found in hope the strength to live… Happiness let us know that to overcome is a must…>>. The general topic of the parade was named: <<I believe in you. Do you?>>. A wonderful slogan for an unprecedented mood filled with enthusiasm and spirit.

When 2012 carnival arrived -February this year- Grande Rio dazzled the spectators. People were speechless. Floats symbolizing the giants within many people have to fight (addiction, voracity, obesity, gambling obsession), and also other monsters that all of us have combated: procrastination, fears. Angels flying around a giant bed and around clouds, representing the energy of our dreams, those we should never quit. ‘Allegories’ dedicated to amazingly iron-willed icons: blind pianists such as Ray Charles, defenders of freedom such as Nelson Mandela, and even tenacious disabled basketball players. An outstanding show that filled people with energy and brought the escola among the champions of 2012 carnival.

This year’s message of Grande Rio was crystal clear. It even made me remember the movie 127 Hours… There is nothing in life that cannot be overcome, bearing determination, conviction and hope. A brilliant game of emotions and cognitive processes, of behavior and decision-making, which moves mountains. And mountains are, precisely, those apparently insurmountable obstacles that unexpectedly rise before us. Which is your disappointment, which is your crisis? Whatever they are, you can overcome them and move on! Take the example. Gather your dreams and defend them.

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