Samba Entertainment & More

Samba Capoeira Performers Share Their Musical Culture during RioPalooza

By: Cesar E. Gonzalez

        Wednesday, March 21- Rio Hondo College was able to have a live performance by “Samba And More Entertainment.” The performers specialized in Afro-Brazilian style music called Samba Capoeira. Capoeira is a martial art that fuses elements of dance, acrobatics, and music that belong to the Afro-Brazilian style and culture. Back in the days of slavery in South America, it was the African slaves who turned to this form of performing music to express and practice their religion. They would throw these types of parties in secrecy and hope that the Portuguese government officials would not find out. I was able to sit down with Oliveira and take her statement in a short interview:

Me: When did you start putting this dance group together?

Oliveira: “Well when I grew up everywhere in Brazil, basically every party is like ‘oh yeah you’re going to have a party at your cousin’s home, oh bring the drums, oh yeah let me bring the little skirts that have some little fringes…’ this automatically started. But it all started professionally in the United States when I came here in 2005.”

Me: So ever since then you have been performing in different places on call?

Oliveira: “Yeah, the first time I started was in Miami. I was living in Miami for three years and then my husband and I decided to move to California where we heard that Brazilian samba shows is pretty popular in all the parties here. We do events every single weekend and it’s amazing.”

Me: “I noticed that you use a lot of really different bright and shiny colors, those of the Brazilian flag; is it more for show or is it also because it represents the culture?”

Oliveira: “Yes, so each samba school on the parade of Rio De Janeiro Carnaval is not just Rio or the feathers and everything it’s about every single city in Brazil has their own Carnaval and their own way to celebrate Carnaval. But there in each one will always be the drums. You know, each samba school select something to talk about. So, this is what I try to bring to my samba shows. Of course you need to have a Brazilian themed costumes, so my first costumes I got were all representing Brazilian colors. And then I saw one of the samba schools that I loved selected a theme of King Tut-Egyptian. So I said I needed to get something like that. I drew out my costume, sent it to my people in Brazil, they made the costumes for me. So my drummers dress as King Tut and the samba dancers are Cleopatra with big feather wings. So it’s basically like that I try to always bring something to talk about and that kind of brings more clients you know?”

Me: Yes!

Oliveira: “The clients always reach out and say ‘oh my god well you have that style too but I want that too’ so I tell ‘next time okay’ so for the next party or event you can always bring in something different. It’s not just go there and let me shake my booty a little bit; you are telling a story.”

Me: How many times does the group practice the dances?

Oliveira: “With me, as you seen that most people in the show most of the group are not Brazilian.”

Me: Right.

Oliveira: “Brazilians are born with the “samba nupe” or the samba on your feet and you get used to it. And for some Brazilian people they don’t take it as work, they think of it as someone is paying me to perform. So at the beginning of my company I had a lot things like ‘Hey Marcela I cannot show up, I have a little problem’ like ‘hey I’m hiring you, you know we need to do this.’ So in rehearsal, liked you asked, I try to put things together but there was always some who did not think they needed to rehearse because they know samba already. So Brazilian people feel they don’t need it. American, Mexican, and anyone I could find here in the United States-the professional dancers they want to get into it. They want to learn deep and that’s going to help me put the show how I want if I hire professional dancers. And I teach them my samba, they come in, they have to learn the choreography one time. If you’re a new dancer to come work with me you learn the choreography and you don’t have to be practicing every week. Unless we have a special show like this one at Rio Hondo where we had to put something together.”

Me: No yes I agree everything was really nice, the whole choreography from the beginning to the end, the costumes…it all came out really well.

Oliveira: “Well definitely had to rehearse for show today to make sure it didn’t come out a mess.”

Me: Would you consider your team like familia or family?

Oliveira: “Oh yeah, they are family. I’m really good with everybody, I don’t like to be the boss. I don’t like to say ‘hey do this for me’ no for me we are a team together. And the only time they remind me that I have to say ‘hey I’m the boss, do this’ is when they tell me they are too tired to do samba. So I tell them ‘hey it’s not just samba it’s about we having a show this is work. You know, I love my job, and they love my job with me I love them back. That is where they become family when they get the job right.”

Me: So, do you and your group travel often?

Oliveira: “Yeah most of the shows are in the United States, we travel international a few times in the last ten years. We’ve done Mexico twice for the carnival of Matzaclan.”

Me: One more question, out of everything that you do, out of performing, the costumes, the culture, what is the one thing that you love the most about this?

Oliveira: “What I love the most? I would say the dance part. Oh my gosh that’s a hard question…of course I love to the smiles on people’s faces and they say ‘oh my god this is so beautiful,’ and when the people are feeling the energy. When my people make other people’s days unforgettable that is what I love most. And the second is the drums or batuka. I can hear those all-day long.”

Me: Yeah it’s great because there’s not even words, it’s just rhythm and dancing along with costumes, its great! It just all looks beautiful.

Oliveira: “Many times we have events that we go to, we have those serious religious families with their the grandma and grandpa that they never dance, they never do nothing. But the moment they start to hear the drums you start to see the little feet go tap tap tap. And when I see them they are with their hands up and it is just contagious.”

Me: No it really is. Thank you so much for your time.

More information about Marcela and ‘Samba And More Entertainment’ group can be found on their Instagram and Facebook accounts, and bookings at 310-303-1515.