Wellington Batucada teaches paralympians how to samba
We started filtering through the doors of Te Papa around 11:30 and waited for the rest of the band to arrive. As we waited, the Brazilian Embassy delegation arrived and, as always, Eduardo (the ambassador) showed his charm and general cool dude tendencies by stopping by to say hello to his adopted community samba group.
We played in front of a podium where sporting officials from the Paralympics, sporting celebrities and some of the political establishment espoused the intent and general excitement of attending, hosting and competing in this marvellous event.
There was a reasonable-sized Batucada crew assembled for a Monday lunchtime, and our aim was to teach a group of paralympians plus 100 local schoolkids how to dance samba-style. We had three of our most lovely dancers demonstrate to the aforementioned children a couple of cool samba reggae moves, and the crowd eventually got into the swing of things.
We hadn’t had the opportunity to rehearse or sound check and the space was cavernous, causing a very distinct echo. This meant that those of us at one end of the band heard two of every instrument from the other side. Pretty confusing when trying to mark time and not knowing whether it was the real beat or merely a reflection.
All in all, a cool (if musically challenging) occasion with a noble cause: Athlete preparations, gold medal aspirations and scaring children with loud drums.
Photos by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images for Paralympics New Zealand. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version. You can use left and right arrows on your keyboard to navigate:
Rio-bound Paralympian Kate Horan, Paralympic debutants Liam Malone and Chris Sharp and Rio 2016 Chef de Mission and Paralympian, Ben Lucas, today hope to inspire all disabled New Zealanders to always dance to their own beat. They headline a 100-strong dance troupe celebrating Carnival-style at Te Papa at midday, to mark ‘100 Days to Go’ until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Kate Horan (Para-Cyclist, Rio 2016; silver medallist in Para-Athletics, Beijing 2008; Para-Athletics, Athens 2004) said: “I think that one of the most exciting things about becoming a Paralympian is your ability to influence community perceptions about disability. We want to show people that it’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can do. New Zealanders can look forward to the most extensive live and free-to-air coverage of a Paralympic Games in just 100 days time, it’s a huge opportunity to demonstrate that there is power in being unique and that its ok to dance to your own beat, as the saying goes!”
She continues: “Today is an exciting landmark for all Paralympians as we continue along our road to Rio 2016 and it’s so cool that we have 100 kids today here to help us mark 100 days to go, Carnival-style. I am looking forward to Rio and preparing as best I can. To compete at my third Paralympic Games is such an honour. I have high aims for Rio, I definitely want to podium and to win gold!”
Led by flamboyant Brazilian percussion and dance group, Wellington’s Batucada, the foursome and 100 local school children from Wellington will learn and perform a specially-choreographed Samba designed to be danced by all dancers. The party will begin at midday with a welcome by the Chief Executive of Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ), the Brazilian Ambassador to New Zealand, plus a few words from PNZ Major Partner, ACC, also a presenting partner of the TV broadcast. The atrium will then fill with colour and sound as the performance tops off a celebration of all things Paralympic related, following the exhibition of the Spirit of Gold® Portrait Collection at Te Papa this past week.
Ben Lucas (Rio 2016 Chef de Mission) said: “With only 100 days left before the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on 7 September, Paralympics New Zealand really wanted to celebrate our Paralympians in a uniquely Brazilian way today. For community perceptions of disability to change, it’s really important to show that our Paralympians are real people, who can laugh and muck about, but who are just as ambitious and train just as hard any other elite sportsperson. Like a lot of men I know, I tend to sit out the dancing – but today, I’ll be taking my chair for a spin!”
paralympics.org.nz, 28 May 2016