Samba School Brings a Little Brazil to L.A.

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A Los Angeles samba school brings a little taste of Brazil to the U.S., teaching the art of dance and percussion to anyone who wants to learn.

TONY COX, host:

This week, people around the world are celebrating the 40 days before Easter known as Lent. No where is the celebration bigger than in Brazil, where the festival is called Carnival. Mocidade Independente de Los Angeles is one of Los Angeles's oldest Brazilian Samba schools, and each year they travel down to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival. Salvador Filo(ph) heads the school, and in his own words, he describes the importance of the Samba ensemble and bringing Brazilian music to the U.S.

Mr. SALVADOR FILO (Drummer Director, Mocidade Independent de Los Angeles): My name is Salvador Francisco Filo, friends call me Sal or Salvador. I'm from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I started here like eight years ago when I came to live in Los Angeles when I started playing with some friends that were trying to teach me how to play.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. FILO: When I was living in Brazil, I never played any instrument. When I came over here it was just to study English and start teaching soccer over here. And now on this time I started coming over here to MILA, listening to the instruments, understanding the instruments, and now I'm the drummer director at the Samba school.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. FILO: Luiz Ferreira is the president owner, and he came over here 13 years ago to live over here after a career as a soccer player. He is from Brazil, from Rio de Janeiro. And he figured out that the Brazilians never had a place to be together over here. And everybody likes Samba. She he had this idea at first. He did a group; the name was Constellation Band. And then he got to this place over here as a base place, and he tried to make the first Samba school over here. Everybody liked the idea and he is still doing it. So after that, we are here, after 13 years ago.

(Soundbite of samba music)

Mr. FILO: I mean, for the Brazilians is like being home again. This is a place that's not just for Brazilians. There is like different people coming over here. Nobody cares if you really know how to dance. Nobody cares the way that you dress. You come over her to be free, to enjoy the night, to dance as crazy as possible, and the rhythm is contagious to everybody.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. FILO: When we work on the carnivals over here, we try to compare as possible with the Carnival in Brazil. We have Samba dancers that are following us all the time; the girls are wearing like bikinis and feathers and everything. The happiness is so important. Drums are important, like in Brazil.

This is the song of the [unintelligible]. We usually call this the first one. And this is the one, that the answer. The answer for the first one is [unintelligible].

And in between those two, there is a third one, that's the one that do the whole creativity on the Samba. Those are the basics for the Samba school. We have another one over here that's the name is Skycia(ph). And the other one that we have over here is the Hippi(ph) Nikki(ph), the one that do a lot of creations during the Samba school.

(Soundbite of music)

We still have [unintelligible]. I think I have some over here. It's like do a lot of like intensive Samba schools. And of course, we have the [unintelligible]; it's very important.

After the whole pressure during the week, like working, studying, whatever people does, I need to come every Friday over here and see the face and the people smiling, dancing, sweating a lot, because it is a hot place. I'm ready for my weekend relax and start over again on Monday.

COX: Salvador Filo heads the Mocidade Independente de Los Angeles, a Brazilian Samba school that teaches the Samba dance and percussion in Los Angeles.

(Soundbite of music)

That's our program for today. Thanks for joining us. To listen to this show, visit npr.org. If you'd like to comment, call us at 202-408-3330. NEWS AND NOTES was created by NPR News and the African American Public Radio Consortium.

(Soundbite of music)

I'm Tony Cox, this is NEWS AND NOTES

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