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Dende Drummers

From Hastings to Notting Hill

Written By Hannah Collisson

A master percussionist, an award-winning singer/songwriter and a well-known designer, all from Brazil, are among those joining Hastings’ Dendê drummers at Notting Hill Carnival at the end of August.

 This will be the second year that the drummers from Hastings and St Leonards have taken part in the procession at Europe’s biggest carnival, and this time around the group are set to make even more of a splash. They will be joining the procession on the second day, Monday, August 25.
 Marivaldo Paim, a Brazilian percussionist at the top of his game and the leader of Ilê Aiyê, the oldest Afro-Brazilian bloco [band] in Salvador, will be acting as musical director leading the group through the procession, while singer/songwriter Soraia Drummond will be lending her vocals to the rhythms.
 Thaís Muniz, a designer known for her elaborate head wraps and turbans will be on hand to offer her expertise.
“This is the biggest event that Dendê perform at,” says Emmanuel McDonald musical leader and co-founder of Dendê, a group that can be seen at many of the festivals and events around town.
 Dendê has been working in collaboration with North-East Brazilian arts group Gandaia, to bring the musicians together, and will be entering the carnival with Cocoyea Mas [masquerade] Band.
 “One of the best ways to experience it is to be in it!” says Emmanuel. “When you start drumming, nobody wants you to stop; it’s such a supportive atmosphere.
“It is an important event for us and I think it’s something that should be shared with as many people as possible.”
  As well as the Brazilian visitors Dendê will be joined by fellow drummers from around the country, including Oya Batacuda from Birmingham, and Dakadum from Cornwall, as well as a number of drummers and dancers from London to form the ultimate carnival collective.
 Dendê translates from Portuguese as “good vibes”, and that is what the experience is all about. “The aim is to create a nice vibe with people coming together to enjoy the carnival, and to give them the opportunity to see more of what the Bahia manifestation of Carnival is,” says Emmanuel, who views this as an opportunity for a cultural exchange.
 Costume is key at Notting Hill carnival. Handmade, Dendê’s are being kept under wraps until the last minute, but Emmanuel does reveal that this year they are inspired by Afro-Brazilian group Ilê Aiyê from Salvador.
 A quick internet search reveals vibrant prints with yellow and red the dominant colours.
“You can let go of your normal inhibitions when in costume,” says Emmanuel. “You can be free and just enjoy yourself.”

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