Alegria Samba School project ends in Brazil

The Alegria team meet Rio performers at the Olympic sports centre Miécimo da Silva

Last month, six representatives from the Island’s New Carnival Company (NCC) and Viva Carnival Club brought its incredible Alegria Samba School project to a close in Brazil.

A group comprising of disabled and non-disabled members first visited project partners and most inclusive carnival organisation in the world, Embaixadores da Alegria, in 2017. They returned in November, having successfully integrated Brazilian carnival style into UK and European events.

The Alegria project, funded by Unlimited to support the development of disabled artists, has changed the face of integrated and disability-led carnival in the UK. Using Embaixadores da Alegria’s model, NCC and Viva created a fully inclusive Brazilian-style samba school encompassing drum, dance, costume, theatre, song and workshops. Over the last year, Alegria has been presented at IW Mardi Gras, Luton Carnival, the Southbank Centre and Newham International Carnival in London and Viarregio, Italy.

While in Rio, the group went to Paraiso Do Tuiuti, one of Brazil’s top Samba schools to share the results of Alegria to an audience including its director and president. They were also special guests at the Olympic sports centre Miécimo da Silva, where they ran a headdress workshop and gave a presentation to more than 200 disabled and non-disabled guests, performers and dancers.

Yetta Elkins, project co-ordinator said, "The whole Alegria project has been an amazing experience and we were so proud to be able to showcase our work in Rio, where it all started. This project was all about finding a way to include everyone in Carnival Arts, despite the many barriers there can be, especially for disabled people. During the past year we have seen noticeable changes to many of our artists and performers in terms of confidence, and they’ve developed a ‘can do’ attitude. We are very grateful to Unlimited for making this all possible.”