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Maracatu Estrela Brilhante of Recife (YouTube)


One of the Northeast’s most important genres is maracatu, an Afro-Brazilian processional dance from Pernambuco that is performed there and in other northeastern cities during Carnaval. In maracatu, participants sing and dance to a heavy, driving, almost trance-inducing rhythm, played usually on alfaias (large, double-headed bass drums), snare drums, chocalhos, and gonguês (bells). Colorfully clad participants parade in what resembles a royal procession of an African nation. A standard-bearer is followed by a “king” and “queen” and other members of the court. Also present is the dama de passo, a woman who carries the calunga cloth doll, a figure of a black woman dressed in white. Read more in The Brazilian Sound.