WITH feathers, glittery costumes and fake tans in tow, a group of Canberra dancers will fly to Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro in February for the city’s iconic Carnival Parade.Eight dancers from Phillip samba studio Kokoloko will dance front and centre on a float in the parade, as part of a two-week tour package for samba schools around the globe.
Kokoloko owner and dancer Becky Fleming says the festival is the “absolute pinnacle of samba”.
“I think we’re eight of around 12 dancers in Australia going – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any dancer to be in Carnival and to represent your country and we’re thrilled most of us are from Canberra,” says Becky.
“Whenever anyone thinks of Carnival, they immediately think of the dancers, so we’re just amazed to be a part of it, especially as some of our girls are in their first year of dancing with the studio. This is the first time they’ve let the tour groups on the floats, so everyone’s feeling really lucky.”
Becky says the Kokoloko girls will dance for about an hour on their float, in front of as many as 850,000 tourists who descend on Rio for the five-day festival.
The dancers plan to wear “extravagant costumes”, with feathery headpieces and red and blue glittered bikinis.
“It takes dedication to get ready, you’ve got to put on the fake lashes, the glitter, the fake tan,” Becky says.
“If you see the dancers there, some wear little more than body paint – but that definitely won’t be us!”
While in Rio, the group will also take dance lessons with experienced Brazilian “samba queens”.
“They’ll teach us different styles of samba, different show moves and tricks that we can bring back and use with our dancing, to help us better ourselves as dancers,” says Becky.
“We’re learning from the best – there’s nothing better than learning from samba queens in Brazil itself.”
Dancer Georgie Maguire, 19, has been dancing with the studio for four years and says appearing in the Carnival has “always been a dream”.
“I’ve never been to Rio, and I still can’t believe we’re going, I’m just counting down the days now,” she says.
“This will be an amazing opportunity to learn about the Brazilian culture. We’ll be on such a high dancing, I think we won’t even notice if our feet start hurting from our heels!”