Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Thay Rodrigues Instagaram/Courtesy
Rio de Janeiro Carnival Queen: Meet The Black Woman Who Came From Impoverished Neighborhood To Win Brazil's Carnival Beauty Contest
Brazil’s Carnival is the main celebration in the country, attracting people from all over the world to celebrate the party on the streets of Rio de Janeiro where Samba music is the soundtrack. However, due to the Omicron variant that hit the country in December 2021, the Rio de Janeiro carnival 2022 was postponed to April (between April 20th and April 24th) for the first time in the city’s history. Now, with the days of this extravagant party being near, Rio de Janeiro Carnival Queen Thaiana Rodrigues shows excitement to enjoy the party that had to be suspended in 2021 due to the suspension of Carnaval because of the pandemic.
Also known as Thai Rodrigues, she was elected Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival Queen in January, beating hundreds of other candidates in a contest carried out by Rio de Janeiro’s City Hall. As a Carnival Queen, she is responsible to promote the party, attending events and festivals in Brazil and abroad along with the Carnival King.
“I have always dreamed of being an artist. And by attending samba parties in Rio, I discovered myself as a samba dancer,” Rodrigues told Travel Noire. She said that her parents always gifted her an improvised costume after the children’s samba schools parade. Then what was only a children’s play before has become an adult’s passion and profession, as she performs samba shows all over the world.
“I am a dancer and I chose the art of samba for my life. Samba changed my life. With samba, I understood that being Black with curly hair is beautiful, that with it I can travel the world and get to know cultures and new languages. With him, I understood what ancestry is, leaving the mark of his feet, from generation to generation, defending the culture of his country”, she said.
Rodrigues revealed that since she was a kid, she has learned about her deep ties to African roots, rhythms and spirituality through her grandmother, and today she links the Samba rhythm with empowerment and understanding of her Black identity.
“Samba is something very natural, it is born with you. But having a notion of what samba dance can add, I found out that my connection to my ancestry represents my story speaking for me. Samba has taken me to many countries around the world, places that I would never dream I would be able to visit. Now, I want to be an inspiration for Black girls who live in favelas (impoverished communities in Brazil) that can also pursue their dreams as empowered Black women,” Thai Rodrigues said.
Considered one of the most popular dance and music genres in Brazil, Samba is an Afro-Brazilian that originated among the Black communities in Rio de Janeiro, Bahia and São Paulo during the slavery era in the country. It is mainly played with percussion instruments used by enslaved Africans when they were not working in the plantation fields. Today, Samba in Brazil is one of the main elements of Brazilian culture. It is part of the daily life of its people and recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
You can follow Thaiana Rodrigues on her Instagram account.