Many Groups Make a Samba School!
A typical Samba School like BSS has a number of "ala's" (groups) and special roles that come together to make up a performance or parade:
Porta Bandeira and Mestre Sala
Rainha de Bateria
Ala Commissao de Frente
Rainha de Bateria
Porta Bandeira ('Flag bearer') & Mestra Sala The porta bandeira is perhaps the most important single role in the samba school. The role is to represent the school, carrying the flag and introducing the school on parade. The 'mestra sala' escorts the flag bearer, symbolising protection to the flag.
Rainha de Bateria ('Queen of the Drums') The rainha de bateria leads the Bateria on parade and in performances, drawing attention to the Bateria with her flamboyant costume and elegant dance moves.
The Bateria (pronounced "bat-er-EE-er") is the drum group of the samba school. The bateria is led by one or more bateria directors who use hand signals and whistles to orchestrate the samba, introduce sections and breaks, tempo changes and more.
The challenge for dressing the bateria is in designing a costume which won't interfere with their playing and is lightweight enough to counter the weight of the instruments, especially that of the surdo. This is the largest section within the school so costumes need to be easily replicated.
The passistas are the 'bikini' dancers. In Rio samba schools they can be seen wearing extraordinarily high heels, a sequinned bikini, lots of feathers and not much else! However, in the somewhat cooler climes of the UK, our passista costumes are more modest.
The Baianas offer up a visual spectacle in their large hooped skirts, moving in an elegant, sedate manner during the performance. With the skirts nearly to the floor, the emphasis is on the upper body movements, with occasional spins to show off the costumes and adopting graceful poses.
Commissao de Frente
The Commissao de Frente have elaborate and beautiful costumes which represent the theme of the school and introduce the theme to the audience with a spectacular combination of choreographed dance and theatre.