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Brazilian-born Marisa Rabi has been performing the samba in Hong Kong for 18 years. Here she explains why taking part in next weekend's Lan Kwai Fong Carnival is one of the highlights of her year.
I am from S?o Paulo, Brazil. I learned the samba when I was a young girl, about 10 years old. But that's not very young. In the north of Brazil, kids are doing the samba when they are three. They start very young. It is part of our culture. The samba is the dance of Brazil.
On every corner in Brazil, you have a bar playing this kind of music. People just love to dance and about 80 per cent of Brazilians can dance. It is part of our culture and is very strong in Brazil. The carnival there is like Lunar New Year here. It is very important to people.
The samba is quite like a street dance. You don't have to go to a class to learn it. You just move around with the rhythm. I would not say it is easy to dance the samba. I think you have to have a kind of natural swing. It is not a mechanic dance, like ballet, where you have to learn the steps. It comes more from inside. You have to feel the music inside. If you feel the music, it is easy.
I've lived in Hong Kong for almost 18 years. I am a choreographer and professionally trained dancer and came here with my ex-husband. I stayed because I love Hong Kong. The people are very welcoming to foreigners and I feel it is my home now.
Ever since I arrived, we have had this group who meet up and dance. Every Brazilian new to town will join us. Sometimes they are people who have come here because their husbands get a job in Hong Kong. Some of girls in the Lan Kwai Fong carnival are professional models. They come to Hong Kong to do some modelling for two months and will help out with the carnival because they are from Brazil and they love to do it.
This year, we will be doing the parade again. We are going to parade around Lan Kwai Fong, dancing the samba in our authentic exotic Brazilian costumes.
All the costumes come from Brazil. I have them tailor-made or I wait for the carnival in Brazil to finish and then I buy the costumes. The girls are beautiful and the costumes are so exotic and creative. It's a great combination.
When we do the Lan Kwai Fong carnival and go out in the streets, we get quite a reaction from people. They love to see our glamorous costumes. We sometimes do shows in the convention centre for big corporate parties. But that kind of audience doesn't react much because they are not there to see us. They are there to eat and talk with their friends.
At the Lan Kwai Fong carnival, people go in the mood for the carnival and it's a really good atmosphere. It is so much fun. The costumes can be quite heavy with their elaborate shoulder pieces, but when we hear the samba music it gives us more energy to dance. The music puts us in the mood and we need to dance.
This year there will be six girls and one guy who is a tambourine acrobat who will be in the parade. He is from Brazil and has come over especially for the festival. This is his second carnival.
I have been involved in the festival four or five times. But this year I am not dancing and I won't be in costume. I will be there organising the group but I am leaving the spotlight for the younger girls.
Sometimes after they see our Brazilian moves, the Chinese girls will come over and say please can you teach us. So we will take a class. At corporate events, for example, with big bankers, if they want to, I will teach them a few steps .
I go back to Brazil twice a year, to see my family and bring back some costumes. I try to time my visit to coincide with the carnival because for me the carnival is like an injection of ideas. Seeing how people can be so creative is really fantastic.
My group, Made in Brasil, is the only real Brazilian group in Hong Kong. No one else brings the Brazilian culture here and I am quite proud of that. It is good to keep your roots and your music and to be able to show people a little bit of the happiness that is made in Brazil.
The Made in Brasil dance troupe will be performing the samba in the parade at the Lan Kwai Fong Carnival on October 13 and 14