Dreamers flock to Rio: A Sarajevan learns to samba in Brazil(Read article summary)
A British train robber made Rio famous as a hideaway in the 1970s, but nowadays foreigners like Devla Imperatrix arrive in droves, armed with dreams and money to invest, writes a blogger.
Rio de Janeiro
â€˘Â A version of this post ran on the author's blog,Â riorealblog.com.Â The views expressed are the author's own.
British train robber Ronald Biggs made Rio de Janeiro famous as a hideaway in the 1970s. To support himself and his family, he used to hold barbecues for tourists, at his Santa Teresa home.
Nowadays foreigners arrive in droves, armed with their own money to invest. They also have ideas and business experience. And they arenâ€™t so much into backyard barbecue asÂ tapas,Â burritos,Â diner fare, orÂ gelatoâ€”Â novidadesÂ for many locals.
Yet Rio feeds all kinds of appetites. RioRealblogâ€™s first profiled foreigner bearing carioca dreams is more hungry for rhythm and melody, than for food.
After years of dancing and teaching flamenco in Europe, Devla came to Rio with samba in mind. To her surprise, a samba school existed by the name Imperatriz Leopoldinense, or Leopoldian Empress. Devla had no doubt her destiny lay in the North Zone Ramos neighborhood.
On the samba schoolâ€™s dance floor last year, a director chewed out the 5-foot-ten-inch beauty for wearing flats. â€śAÂ passistaÂ (official samba school dancer) has to wear heels,â€ť he warned.
Devla wasnâ€™t aÂ passistaÂ â€“ yet. After lessons from famed teacher Carlinhos de Jesus, sheÂ won a spot on an Imperatriz floatÂ in this yearâ€™s Carnival parade.
â€śI may have been the first foreignÂ musaÂ (muse)Â in a Carnival parade,â€ť she notes. â€śBut because Iâ€™m fluent in Portuguese and feel possessed by samba, people didnâ€™t really notice!â€ť
The parade was no slice of cake. Devlaâ€™s dress was ready only 45 minutes before the samba school began moving down the avenue. Her skirt came unpinned; experienced dancer and performer that she is, Devla focused on moving her arms, transmitting the magic of samba with what she calls â€śa contained presenceâ€ť, until she could fix it.
One dream ticked off her list, Devla now aspires to create and perform a fusion of gypsy dancing and samba. She also wouldnâ€™t mind a role in a Globo novela, or soap operaâ€¦ and meanwhile, sheâ€™s using her business degree and savvy atÂ Global Vision Visas, specializing in customized immigration solutions for multinational oil and gas companies.
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