SF Carnaval: A 35-Year Tradition in Jeopardy

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Stimulating samba rhythms and pulsating drums filled the third-floor dance studio of the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, where for nearly two hours, participants in the “Brazilian Carnaval Dance & Percussion” class created a scene of music, dance and inexhaustive stamina as seen in Rio de Janeiro.

The class, taught by Metzi Henriquez and Jose Rivera of the award-winning Brazilian Carnaval dance and percussion company Fogo Na Roupa, unites men and women of various ages and communities in the folkloric, popular and street-style dances of Brazil.

“Over the past 25 years, we have created a family of Carnevalescos,” said Henriquez. “A lot of kids grow up with us–Carnaval has been a part of my life for the last 14 years.”

Around this time of year, many Carnaval groups such as Fogo Na Roupa begin the process of preparing for the annual two-day Festival that combines a parade, music, food and creativity into a unique cultural experience.

While year-round preparations for Carnaval form a lifestyle for many of the contingents, news of financial woes has left both participants and organizers fearful about the state of the festival, which has a 35-year history in the Mission District.

Accrued debt, increasingly rigid organizational and financial requirements imposed by the City and a lack of communication between organizers and Carnaval groups has created uncertainty about whether the event will take place this year.

Read the rest at El Tecolote