A Samba reggae group participating in the Notting Hill Carnival hope to make sustainability “part of the party” as they don outfits made in Brazilian Samba schools that have been saved from landfill.
Dende Nation are to take to the streets of the west-London area on the children’s day of the Carnival on Sunday, moving to the beat of the Afro-Brazilian music and shining a light on sustainability through its Carnival project called Ebi Dende, which is derived from the Yoruba word for family – Ebi.
Drums used on the day have come from Taru Arts, which makes the instrument from recycled material and costumes to be worn originated from Samba schools in Rio and were used in the Rio Carnival via the Sustenta Carnaval Project.
Speaking about the environmental focus, Mariana Pinho, the project manager, who lives in south-east London, told the PA news agency: “We paired up with the public sector of Rio.
“We joined both State through Danielle Barros, secretary of culture and creative economy of the state of Rio, and City through Taina de Paula, secretary of environment and climate that, together, bridged the project with Rio Tur and Comlurb, Rio’s waste management company.
“Instead of going through the compressing trucks and ending up in the landfill, we used our own trucks to source over 23 tons of costumes on which 80 kilos have been shipped to London as part of a proof of concept summer season across events in the UK.
“We have been upcycling and customising the outfits to reduce carbon emissions and show you can have costumes, decor and fashion productions combining circular economy with outreach in a sustainable way.”
For Ms Pinho, 42, who grew up in Brazil and has lived in the UK for almost 20 years, Carnival is so much of a staple for her that she has referred to it as what “rice and beans” mean to Brazilians.
“Carnival is like what we eat in Brazil – rice and beans – it is part of what we are”, said Ms Pinho, who is also the one of the dance co-ordinators, along with Rosaria Gracia, as well as the costume co-ordinator for the group.
“I was born in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and my family and I would always go to Rio to have fun and just dance on the streets at their carnivals.
“In the UK, Carnival is also done beautifully – it feels like an around-the-year event and it feels like we are a multicultural family.”
Around 100 people will be part of Dende Nation’s crew, led by musical director Mac Preto Velho, including dancers, artists and stewards.
The group has been getting into the celebration through a series of costume making, drumming and dance sessions across August in partnership with Brixton Village and with the support of the Arts Council of England.
Ms Pinho said that the Carnival will be a “way of bringing everyone together”, as there will be dancers coming from Brighton, Bristol, Canada and Spain, to join the group, as well as special guest artists such as Marivaldo Paim, and Roberta and Leah Paim from the all-female drumming group Zalinde.
Ms Pinho said she hopes those attending the Carnival can feel “part of it as well”, even if they are not on a float.
“When they see us dance, hopefully they will dance along with us in a way of collective joy”, she said.
“What I try to do when I create the choreographies is to do it in a way where people feel like they’re part of the party and not just watching a performance.
“We are not performing, we are having fun, so we just need to make people watch and say, ‘wow, I can do that’ and ‘maybe next year I’m not going to be holding my mobile for 24 hours taking pictures’.”
Ms Pinho said that one of her fondest memories of the Notting Hill Carnival was in 2004, when she was on a float for the London School of Samba.
“It was a big wake up call for me to go, ‘wow, there is a Brazilian family everywhere and you will be welcomed, loved and appreciated”, she said.
She seems to have passed on her love of the Carnival to her six-year-old son Moreno, who will also be participating on the day.
“He’s going to be surrounded by people drumming and dancing, which for him is normal, it will be just like going to work with mummy”, she said.