I offered to explain what my interpretation of the Rio de Janeiro presentation at the closing ceremony of London 2012 on Twitter and some people seemed interested. So here it is.
It all started with a street sweeper dancing in the middle of the stage. This man is not quite an actor, he is a real street sweeper called Renato Sorriso who is famous for his samba dancing in Rio. Every year he shines during carnival, but the rest of the year he sweeps the streets of Rio sporting the famous COMLURB uniform of white and neon orange. If you ever visit Rio, you will see many men and women wearing this same iconic uniform.
Renato is samba-ing like crazy and a “gringo” comes to tell him to leave, but Renato decides to teach him how to samba. The Brit (I assume he’s British but I might be wrong) fails miserably – but he should not be ashamed, not EVERYONE in Rio can dance like that. Yours truly can’t.
Carnival costumed dancers enter the stage, the crowd cheers. I’m not really sure that each costume is meant to be something, most of the time they are representative of movies, issues, landmarks, and everything possible, ever, really. But this time I think it was just a very braggy way to say WE HAVE SAMBA AND FABULOUS COSTUMES.
Marisa Monte enters the stage impersonating Iemaja. It’s okay if you did not understand a word of the previous sentence, I will explain; Marisa Monte is a brilliant Brazilian singer who has sold 10 million records worldwide. She mainly sings Brazilian popular music (MPB, very different to actual pop but that’s another blog post all together).
Iemanja is an orisha, or a sort of goddess of the religion called Candomblé. The faith of Candomblé is a kind of mesh of African religions and beliefs that the slaves brought to Brazil when it was still a colony. Iemanja is the Queen of the Seas and is believed to steal sailors to be her lovers by drowning them in sea storms. I’m not entirely sure why Marisa Monte was impersonating Iemanja in a blue dress of parasols, but I would say the Queen of the Seas is a very Brazilian character and that we are probably trying to have less ass in our international presentations.
Then BNegao starts singing a song – I’ll be honest I had no idea who he was until I did research for this blog post. Apparently he is the lead singer of a Brazilian band called Black Alien, so you’re welcome to look it up. Also, if anyone was wondering who the gorgeous, tall woman dancing samba in a long gown dress was, her name is Alessandra Ambrósio.
A song that made me smile at the TV screen was “Aquele Abraco“, sung by Marisa Monte and Seu Jorge. In the middle of the confusion of costumes and music, there was also a bit where the famous patterns of the Copacabana sidewalk were formed on the floor. They look like this:
Quite iconic but a nightmare to walk on. However, it’s good that they brought this over to London – just if you are actually coming to the Rio 2016 Olympics don’t bother bringing heels or any sort of uncomfortable shoes.
And the finale obviously had PELÉ, the legend. The crowd cheered and roared, as if his Viagra advertisement days were over. Like I tweeted earlier, we’ll always have Pelé.
Edit: I forgot to mention the bit with all the indians. I think that’s pretty obvious though, surely? We have indian tribes all over Brazil. Many in the Amazon. That’s pretty much it.