Carnival comes to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Dancer Ann Marie Campbell (left) and reporter Sophie Morton

Dancer Ann Marie Campbell (left) and reporter Sophie Morton - Credit: Archant

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be taken over by carnival spirit on Sunday, with samba dancers showing off their skills to the crowd.

Dancer Ann Marie Campbell (left) and reporter Sophie Morton

Dancer Ann Marie Campbell (left) and reporter Sophie Morton - Credit: Archant

And I was put through my paces ahead of the big event to find out just how much talent and energy you need to perform the traditional Brazilian dance.

My teacher for the lesson was Ann-Marie Campbell, 36, a dancer who will be performing in the Great British Carnival.

“The samba community in London is quite small,” she said, “but it’s very lively.”

With the colourful costumes an integral part of samba performances, I was expecting to be wearing something similar to Ann-Marie’s dress.

Instead, I found myself being turned into a human pineapple – certainly one of the most surreal costumes I’ve ever been in.

“Carnival is all about excess – about being larger than life,” Ann-Marie explained. “It’s a celebration of life.”

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Samba is a fast dance but thankfully Ann-Marie showed me the steps at a slow pace.

I was taught the basic moves, including how to slow down to take a breather and how to move around the stage in different ways, before putting it all together into a routine.

After several run throughs, I finally managed to get the hang of it – though I don’t think I’m anywhere near ready to join in with the carnival performance just yet.

So just what is it about samba that appeals to so many people?

“It’s the music that appeals to me,” said Ann-Marie, who has been dancing for 10 years. “I just love the rhythm.

“There will be people who see it for the first time and want to get into it, and the World Cup and Olympics in Brazil will hopefully boost samba in London.”