Saturday, September 13, 2008

News story: Brazilfest

Published in National Post. [Toronto magazine: Sep. 13, 2008]

They're sambaing in the rain
Brazil defeats Chile, bad weather on same day

The early rain couldn't damper the spirit of the thousands of attendees at Brazilfest last Sunday. Performers showcased the fifth-largest country in the world's rich cultural heritage by performing samba, maracatu and axe rhythms on Brazilian Independence Day hours before the national soccer team kicked up the celebratory mood by defeating Chile 3-0 in a World Cup qualifying game.

"It's nice to bring our culture together," said Aline Morales, minutes before taking the stage to sing and play the xequere with Maracatu Nunca Antes, her Afro-Brazilian percussion group.

Although last year's event drew 8,000 people to Toronto Island, this year's festivities were marred by the constant inclement weather. An original July date on the island was cancelled due to heavy rain, and the early Sunday showers didn't help.

"We did lose because of the rain," admitted festival director Arilda De Oliveria. "But it's much harder to have this many people here today than having [a festival] in July."

In addition to music performances, the fest featured a capoeira showcase, Brazilian food vendors and a workshop showcasing Brazilian-Canadian art by artists such as Sandra Liberato.

"It's a great cultural exchange to show Canada what Brazilians do best," Liberato said. "Because, at the same time, Brazilians feel that Canada is great in that there are so many cultures that people are interested in learning about.

Although everybody agreed that the event was a success, dancer Chris Balthasar hopes there is more Brazilian culture imported to the city.

"The community needs more sponsors to get bigger stars from Brazil to play here like [they have done] in New York," he said before noting that this is starting to happen - bossa nova icon Milton Nascimento performs at Massey Hall next month. Good tickets for the Oct. 24 concert are still available.

Link to story in National Post here.

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