Don Quixote opens carnival parades in Rio

Rio de Janeiro: The world of Don Quixote was recreated in Rio de Janeiro`s Sambadrome by the Uni?da Ilha samba school, which opened the parades with representations of Miguel de Cervantes` masterpiece.

Unida Ilha (Union of the Island) led off with a parade entitled "Don Quixote of La Mancha - the gentleman of impossible dreams" as its entry for the Carnival title.

The group of dancers leading the parade took bullfights as the inspiration for their choreography, which had the 15 artistes waving capes as they mimicked fighting a bull on wheels.

"Don Quixote is enchanting for the madness of fighting for ideals that reason has no part of," the artistic director of Unida Ilha, Rosa Magalhaes, said in explanation of their chosen theme.

The lead dancers in a parade are traditionally followed by the samba school`s main float, in this case a gigantic Don Quixote reading sitting down with piles of books around him as an introduction to the rest of the parade.

"The island has returned, people are wild with joy - in this festival I am a nobleman, I am a reader, a gentleman of dreams and my world is magic," says one of the verses of the samba composed for the parade, played by a percussion band with the school`s 3,600 members singing at the top of their voices.

Bulls and Moors, castanets and Cordoban sombreros, fans and mantillas, Flamenco dancing, lances, Toledo swords, and conquistadors` helmets and suits of armour richly decorated with lace and gems stood out among the costumes of the different groups of dancers.

On its eight floats, the school represented an immense dragon, windmills and other imaginary enemies of Don Quixote.

The school had technical problems with the last float bearing statues of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in scenes from their battles, but managed to overcome it just in time to get it into the parade.

After the quixotic opening of the Special Group parades, another five schools completed the programme, which went on until break of day Monday and will start up again after sunset with the parades of six more schools.



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