In this Carnival, there was a surprise headliner. Samantha Mortner is a British woman who was one of the main dancers for the Imperio da Tijuca samba school during this year’s Carnival. Mortner has lived in Brazil since the end of her first marriage in 2006. She was working as a director for a PR firm but knew she was not made for the British weather. She is a huge lover of Brazilian culture and wore an outfit inspired by Yemanja, Goddess of the Sea.
When she first came to Brazil to vacation, she knew she belonged there. She settled in one of the largest favelas in the country and started to teach the English through an NGO. Later, she got a deal with the locals; if they taught her how to samba, she would teach tourist lessons on Brazil.
Being the first non-Brazilian dancer to lead at Carnival is a huge deal. Mortner is considered the “musa gringa” in the Imperio da Tijuca samba school. This shows how welcoming Brazil is and how they want to share their culture with the entire world. Samba is extremely labor demanding and for Mortner to become a main dancer shows her dedication to the place she lives in and the appreciation of a beautiful culture.
Throughout the article it makes Mortner seem like some sort of Goddess, but that can be attributed to the news article being from the UK. However, when we discuss themes like whitewashing and cultural appreciation, it is hard to not think this is what this white woman is doing. However, the local people of the area feel as if she is coming from an appreciative stance and respect.