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Dancers set to inject soul and charm into Rio 2016 ceremonies

Paulo Mumia/Rio 2016
01 Apr 2016
RIO 2016 , Olympic News

Brazilian street dancers with a love of soul music have had their talent and dedication rewarded with an invitation to perform at the Rio 2016 Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the city’s iconic Maracanã Stadium.
In what has become a truly remarkable tradition, every weekend, hundreds of dance fanatics travel from across Rio de Janeiro, and beyond the city limits, to gather under a motorway flyover in the working class neighbourhood of Madureira. There, they dance the night away to the strains of American soul music.  

These bailes charme or charm parties have been taking place in the same spot every Saturday since 1990, and see young and old from all different backgrounds mix happily in a truly joyful celebration of dance.

Together we’ll show Rio’s culture to the world! Renata Vieitas, choreographer BRA
Paulo Mumia/ Rio 2016

The majority of the dancers come from neighbourhoods across Rio’s north zone, which is generally poorer than the famous beach neighbourhoods in the south zone.The musical style, which draws on sixties soul and modern RnB, sees the dancers engage in highly choreographed and technically impressive routines, not unlike ‘Northern Soul’, the dance craze which swept the north of England in the 1960 and 1970s.

Paulo Mumia/ Rio 2016

Robson Junior, 20, travels 25km from São João de Meriti every week. “The atmosphere is contagious,” he said. “And my family are happy that I am part of this group – they would be worried if I was hanging around on the streets, doing nothing.”

Paulo Mumia/ Rio 2016

Later this year the talents of Robson and his fellow dancers will be brought to a global audience as they as they strut their stuff on the biggest stage of all. For the organisers of Rio 2016 who are in the process of recruiting an army of volunteer dancers for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the charm dancers have provided a rich vein of talent. In March they sent a team to a baile charme and it proved a roaring success, with every single one of the hundred plus dancers invited to perform at the Maracanã.

Paulo Mumia/ Rio 2016

Líbia da Silva Corrêa, a 49-year-old teaching coordinator, drove 70km from Seropédica, just outside Rio, along with her niece Pamela Soares de Oliveira to take part and she was thrilled to find herself part of the Rio 2016 festivities. “I love to dance and today was even better,” said Silva Corrêa. “I’m so excited, I can’t wait!”

Choreographer, Renata Vieitas, who is helping select the Rio 2016 ceremonies cast, was so impressed by what she saw that at the end she climbed the stage and broke the good news: everyone in the group would be selected. “You all dance so well, you were amazing!” she enthused. “Together we’ll show Rio’s culture to the world!”

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