Mark and I just suffered through the Olympics Closing Ceremony — a two-and-a-half-hour long anthology from hell of five decades of bangers-and-mash British rock (the Queen was smart, this time she stayed home) — for no reason other than to watch the eight-minute Introduction to Rio segment. When the spotlight hit Renato Sorriso, and he began his magical samba footwork, I applauded. But then I worried that no one outside of Brazil would think he was anything other than an actor in a funny orange costume. No one would understand his importance to the city of Rio, and why he had been picked to open the closing. And then, to prove I was right to worry, I read this in New York Times reporter Campbell Robertson's blog: "In the middle of the stadium is Renato Sorriso, ‘the garbage collector who is a samba dancer and a symbol of Rio de Janeiro's Carnival.' Seriously. A samba dancing garbage man is Rio's introduction to the world." So arrogant. So smug. So ready to put Rio down. Robertson obviously considers a samba-dancing garbage man pretty low down on the food chain.
|Renato Sorriso on the job|
Nowadays Renato spends Carnaval parading down the runway with one or another samba school, in between his cleaning duties. There aren't many sambistas as good as he is, or as talented, or as charming, or with as much charisma. And that smile, well, it's contagious. It's from the heart. Renato has also appeared in a Brazilian television soap opera, he's done a telephone commercial in Europe, and he's toured with professional dancers in France, Spain and England in a show called "Brasil Brasileiro." And now he has danced at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics. Campbell Robertson may not think that this "samba dancing garbage man" should be Rio's introduction to the world, but that just shows how very little Robertson knows of Brazil. It also shows how much a person's brain can be fried after hours of rock music.