Decked in rainbow-coloured costumes, feathers and glitter, the 22-strong contingent will be led by Mishel Finlayson, a Brisbane-based samba instructor who will be the principal queen on the parade’s lead float for the second day – the first time EVER an Australian has taken the prestigious role.
‘It’s such an incredible honour as the position is usually reserved for Brazilians who grew up in the local favelas (communities), or if not, it’s famous celebrities,’ Finlayson tells Daily Mail Australia.
She is thrilled to be taking part in the event alongside 200 talented samba schools.
‘After so many years of travelling to Brazil, studying samba and learning to speak Portuguese fluently, I feel I can confidently represent Australia as a samba queen in Rio! Let’s just hope I keep my balance on a two storey float in six inch heels!’.
While some fear that this year’s Carnival might be dampened by a somewhat dark backdrop of a deepening Brazilian depression, and the spread of the terrible Zika virus, Mishel Finlayson says her spirits refuse to be quashed:
‘The recession is concerning as I have many friends in Brazil and it hurts to see them suffering, but being here as tourists we are investing in their economy, and my tour provides annual employment for many people including dance instructors, costume designers and samba school employees,’ she argues.
‘When it comes to Zika, we are doing what we can to protect ourselves – using repellent and staying away from mosquito zones. But Rio is a modern city, and we are staying in a very safe, clean area called Leblon.’
The Australian girls competing have been training for the past year – keeping fit, improving their technique and learning the school’s theme song in Portuguese.
There will be an audience of 300,000 in the crowd and over 150 million on international TV.
Hopefully they will have some of the good fortune of previous Australian competitors – their school has won the division two title and an impressive $1.7 million for the past three years.
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