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Samba drummers, dancers will bring 'Carnaval' atmosphere to Oaks Theater

Patrick Varine
| Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh Samba Group dancers Jen Gallagher of East Liberty (from left), Maqui Ortiz of Highland Park, Mallory Deptola of the Mexican War Streets and Emily Kasky of Castle Shannon, dance together to the Brazilian rhythms of percussion group Timbeleza at the Polish Hill Arts Festival in 2015.
Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Samba Group dancers Jen Gallagher of East Liberty (from left), Maqui Ortiz of Highland Park, Mallory Deptola of the Mexican War Streets and Emily Kasky of Castle Shannon, dance together to the Brazilian rhythms of percussion group Timbeleza at the Polish Hill Arts Festival in 2015.

Local samba musicians and dancers will do their best to warm up Oakmont and bring the "Carnaval do Brasil" to the 'Burgh.

Samba band Timbeleza will be joined by the Pittsburgh Samba Group for a Feb. 10 performance at the Oaks Theater in Oakmont.

They will be joined by Pittsburgh blues singer Miss Freddye and her Homecookin' Trio, who will perform New Orleans-style blues.

Bob DiCola of Leechburg is a member of both groups. DiCola was attending a concert by Brazilian singer Kenia in 2008 when he first learned about Timbeleza from a fellow concertgoer.

"When he told me there was a Brazilian batería band in Pittsburgh, I went to check it out," DiCola says. "I've always enjoyed Brazilian music and Brazilian drumming."

When he performs with the group, DiCola typically plays a caixa, similar to a snare drum but usually with a smaller diameter. He also plays timbao, which is similar to a conga but can be worn with a neck strap. DiCola owns about a dozen Brazilian percussion instruments, part of a much larger collection of percussion he has acquired over the years.

Timbeleza plays both the "Rio" style of drumming, connected to traditional Brazilian samba, as well as the "Bahia" style, which has its roots in African drumming.

"It's a very melodic type of percussion," DiCola says.

Luciana Brussi, who heads the Pittsburgh Samba Group, moved to Pittsburgh about eight years ago, and started the group when "I didn't see any Brazilian dancing happening here."

A friend suggested she meet members of Timbeleza.

"They didn't have any dancers," Brussi says. "We basically do the same kind of show they do in Brazil during Carnaval."

Pittsburgh Samba Group has been performing since 2012.


Below, watch a 2017 performance by both groups:

Below, members of Timbeleza perform in Lawrenceville as part of LadyFest in June 2017:


In addition to the Oaks show, both groups will perform at Carnaval 2018 alongside Neguinho da Beija-Flor at a March 8 show at the Ace Hotel in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood.

Since 1975, Neguinho has been affiliated with samba school Beija-Flor de Nilópolis, in Rio de Janeiro, which became part of his artistic name.

Since then, the samba school has won 12 parade competitions.

Reserved seats for that show are $40 and are available at Carnaval2018Pittsburgh.bpt.me .

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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