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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro to Host Brazilian `Carnaval'

The Carnaval 2001 Celebration, an annual Brazilian cultural festival, will be held at the Carrboro ArtsCenter beginning at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and lasting until 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

Since 1641, Carnaval has been celebrated in Brazil for four days prior to the start of Lent, the 40-day period that precedes Easter, which actually began Wednesday.

Although the event will be primarily attended by Brazilians in the area, Claudia Nascimento, one of the coordinators of this year's event in Carrboro, also expects people to come from across the state, traveling from as far away as Boone.

Nascimento said she is planning for a much larger event than Carnavals in the past. "It's going to be big," she said. "There should be 800 to 1,000 people there."

Like the Carnaval in Brazil, the Carrboro Carnaval will feature the samba, a dance that originated from ancient rhythms of African slaves brought to Brazil. "Samba is the rhythm of Carnaval in Brazil," Nascimento said.

For the first year, the Carnaval will also bring in a live band, the Greensboro-based Energia Brasil, to assist in the samba dancing. In addition to music and dance, the Carnaval will also feature Brazilian food, drinks and art.

"For Brazilians, it's wonderful. It's always great to celebrate your culture."

The Brazilian Carnaval started being celebrated in the Triangle area in the late 1970s. After a brief hiatus, Carnaval was revitalized in 1980 when George Entenman started having the Carnaval at his home. "We got about 200 people in the house," Entenman said. "It's a really wonderful time. There's tremendous energy."

But as the event grew larger it began to require an increasingly large amount of work and funds to organize. "(Carnaval) needed a corporate structure to do it," Nascimento said.

So in 1999, the Brazilian Association of the Triangle joined in the efforts to celebrate Carnaval.

The Brazilian Association of the Triangle is a group that both unites Brazilians in the area and educates others about Brazilian culture.

Nascimento said the association has more than 600 members who are involved and that it is the only group in North Carolina specifically for Brazilians.

As it has evolved over the past 350 years, Nascimento said Carnaval has become more of a celebration of Brazilian culture, regardless of one's religious background. She said Carnaval is a time to free the imagination and celebrate the positive aspects of life.

"It's like Mardi Gras," she said. "The whole country stops for four days."

Although the ArtsCenter event won't be as long as the actual Carnaval in Brazil, organizers say it will be no less celebratory. Nascimento said, "We're going to have in one night what happens (in Brazil) in three days."

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