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Brazil’s carnival brings much-needed cash inflow


The Rio de Janeiro Carnival is one of the world’s biggest festivals, and generates around $570 million in revenue each year.

For Brazilians, it’s as important as Hollywood is to the United States.

Dancers have to pass a tough year-long selection process to be accepted for the carnival.

It’s a time for dancing and partying - a celebration with costumes and masks enjoyed by both rich and poor. For some it's time to a chance to become kings and queens for few days.

Araujo Joana Martins is a dancer at the Academic Rocinha school of samba. But outside the academy, she spends her time in the narrow streets of a favela - the largest in Latin America.

“I’ve danced since childhood, since I started walking I started to want to dance. Some day I want to be Carnival Queen Rocinha. And besides, I need to earn money, and I want to fulfill my desire to dance. This is what I like. Dreaming does not cost anything,” says Martins.

Joana dedicates all her time and passion to the carnival. She gives dance lesions, and got great pleasure out of seeing one of her students get selected as a carnival candidate.

“This took place on Saturday and it was one of the happiest days of my life. I was so impressed. She received a good message and was very excited. And when I saw her doing what I had taught her, I had a lot of tears and emotions,” she says.

Samba schools have an important social role in their neighborhoods in teaching dance. For these institutions the carnival is a vital source of investment. Even though the earnings are largely in the hands of the major television networks and in the tourist industry, with nearly 400 000 visitors who come to Rio to see this show.

“The school itself does not get profit, because we have many expenses. To put a samba school in the parade we have to have a million dollars at least. The real winner in the carnival is the tourist industry. The school does not get much benefit, but it gets enjoyment,” says Francisco Ferrera, founder of Academic of Rocinha.

Rio de Janeiro's carnival generates jobs – half a million people work all year for these three days: from engineers and technicians who assemble the floats to the fashion designers and seamstresses who work on the dancers’ clothing.

“I am a fashion designer and I was interested in the carnival because my whole family participates in the carnival parade, so I started to create costumes. I am dedicated to making the figurines with the design and creation. People here have a lot of freedom to create,” says Luana Souza, designer.

The carnival and football are two trademarks of Brazil, and millions of young people dream to shine in one or the other. Although becoming a carnival star offers nothing like the potential wealth of playing top-level football.


Rio de Janeiro
22° 54' 12.7404" S, 43° 12' 34.5132" W