Move your peppu!

{mosimage}Helsinki has lived once
more the magic of the Carnival. Brazilian flavour with a touch of Finnish
national identity: Saaaaamba!!! Who said that Finnish are cold? During the weekend
of 8-9 June, Helsinki
citizens turned their minds (and feet) back to faraway Brazil and
everybody went out to enjoy once more the parade of the
Helsinki Samba Carnival.

 

FREE! Magazine did not want to miss the chance to talk to some members of G.R.E.S.
Império do Papagaio
, the biggest Samba School in Finland, located in the
heart of Helsinki (literally… the dancers rehearse inside an old bomb shelter).

Henna
Seljänperä
, one of the Passistas (the only girls
who dance in bikini during the parade from every Samba School)
of Papagaio Samba School,
who has even danced some years ago in the Sambódromo of Rio de Janeiro, the temple of Samba dancers, explained more about the
secrets of this passionate dance:

Henna, when did
you start dancing Samba in Papagaio?

It was in 1997,
and then I danced in my first parade one year later, in 1998.

Your Samba school
is the most awarded one in the whole Finland, isn’t it?

Yes, we have won the
Finnish Samba Championship seven times in total. We won once five times in a
row, but then two years ago Tampere
Samba School
won, and we got so much energy out of it that we got top store last year, when
we were the champions again.

That was kind of a
sweet revenge…

Yeah, it was the
first time that any Samba school in Finland got the top points.

{mosimage}Which are the
requisites you have to fulfill to be given the points by the judges?

We have the same
scale as they do have in Rio de
Janeiro. We have several judges, and they are judging
conjunction, the song and the “Enredo”, which is the theme of the song. They
also judge the costumes and the overall performance.

Do you have good
relation with the other Samba schools in Finland?

Well, it is not as
tough as in Rio. We don’t go and shoot other
people from other Samba schools… Sometimes after the carnival, some of them
have had this attitude like “oh…they won again”, but in general we are one big
Samba family in Finland
and we to partying together.

This is going to
be the 17th edition of the carnival in Helsinki. Who started with the idea?

There were only four Samba schools at the beginning in Finland: Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Lahti.  The first carnival was in Turku. Basically it was started by some crazy
Finnish people went to Rio and fell in love
with Samba.

So has it been a
thing started more by Finnish than by Brazilians living in Finland?

Yes, it has always
been very “Finnish Samba”, because we do not have so many Brazilians living
here, and those who do live here do not necessarily attend the Samba schools.

How is the general
Samba level in Finland?

Well, if you
compare to Brazilian Samba, we are far away from them. If we are thinking from
a global perspective, as far as I know, Finnish Samba carnival and Finnish “Sambistas”
are pretty well known around the world among the Samba fans. It is quite unique
in a country like Finland
that has no carnival culture itself, except for Vappu…that it is not exactly
the same…

This year you are
having a guest Samba group, Maravilha from Sweden. Is it normal that foreign
Samba groups come to dance to Helsinki
for the Carnival?

They were here
also last year. With Sweden,
we have had quite a long relation, going there for their carnival. At the
beginning they had not only carnival, but other parades there, and Finns
normally always won the competition, because we had a better level in Samba
parades. Some years some foreign groups contact us about participating in Helsinki carnival, but
usually we do not have the financial power to bring other groups from other
parts of Europe. From Sweden, is much
cheaper just to take the boat and come here.

 

{mosimage}

 

"Here is very different from Río, where many men dance Samba apart from playing"

 

How many members
do you have in Papagaio
Samba School?

Around 250 members.

Do men feel
attracted to come and learn Samba? Is it difficult to get men to dance Samba?

Well, Samba is not
only about dancing. Samba is originated from the music itself that is why
“Bateria” and music is the most important part of Samba school and then dancers
change it into movement. About dancing, it is not very common for Finnish men
(they have only three men who dance samba at the school). It is very different from
Rio, where many men dance apart from playing.

{mosimage}So dancing or
playing, there are also quite many Finnish men who love Samba. We collected the
opinion of one male member of Papagaio
Samba School,
Lauri “Laurido” Tanner, who performs as “Diretor de Tamborines”
(Director of Tambourine section) in Papagaio´s “Ala de Bateria”.

Lauri, how long
have you been playing Samba?

I have been
playing Samba since 2001.

Where did you start
it?

I started it in Tampere, in Uniäo da
Roseira Samba School
, and I also sang there. After that I moved back to Helsinki and here I
started training tambourine. Then I became the official director of the
tambourine section.

Do you dance
Samba?

I like dancing,
but usually I am in the other side, so I rarely have the chance to dance. But I
do dance. For example if I am in Rio in a good
party.

Have you been
there?

Yeah, I was two
times. I was playing in rehearsals and in a small school. Last year I was focused
on recording the carnival. I recorded a lot of material.

So how many people
are there in the "Ala de Bateria" in Papagaio?

Around 25 this
year. Not too much. In Brazil
you could have 250-300 people. The power is magnificent! In Finland we could go with all the
people from all the Samba Schools to 100 people.

So sometimes you
play all together?

Yes. This is one
of my ambitions. To have this "gatherings" organized again and go up to 100
again.

We came back to
Henna who told us some more details and anecdotes about the incoming
performance around the streets of Helsinki:


What is the theme
for the song of Papagaio
Samba School
this year?

It is "surprisingly" about Eurovision Song Contest. We tell about the history of the
contest from the beginning until nowadays.

Some years ago in Helsinki was raining cats
and dogs during the festival. How do you find motivation to dance with that
weather?

It was in 2004. I
remember it very well. Before we went to the parade that year, it was 12
degrees and pouring rain really heavily. We were feeling so down, talking to
other Passistas telling “we are not going there…” but of course we had to go
there. But then when we arrived and the music started playing, then you even
did not notice that it is raining or that it was cold weather, because you do
not feel cold dancing Samba. It is so inspiring music that you get only good
feelings. I was feeling sad for the viewers with the jackets on!

 

XVII  Helsinki Samba Carnival.  8-9 June, 2007.
More information
about the schedule in www.samba.fi
G.R.E.S. Império do Papagaio: www.papagaio.fi