World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Fogo Na Roupa Performing Company

GENRE: Baile Carnavalesco
ARTISTIC DIRECTORS: Metzi Henriquez, Jose Rivera
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2013

Founded in 1989, Fogo Na Roupa—“Clothes On Fire”—Bay Area Grupo Carnavalesco and Performing Company combines raw community spirit with the technical expertise of its founder, Mestre Carlos Aceituno. Named for the hot energy generated by the infectious rhythms and dance, Fogo has been awarded multiple San Francisco Carnaval Grand Championships, Best of the Bay 2011, and Mission Cultural Center’s 2012 Corazon Del Barrio Award. Other performances include: Bay Area opener for Brazil’s Olodum; collaboration with jazz ensemble Mingus Amungus; opening for Carlos Santana and Carlinhos Brown; SF Symphony’s 100th Anniversary; and halftime shows for the Oakland Raiders and SF 49ers.


GENRE: Folkloric (Maracatu)
TITLE: Maracatu do Fogo
ARTISTIC DIRECTORS: Metzi Henriquez, Jose Rivera
CHOREOGRAPHER: Metzi Henriquez
COSTUME DESIGNER: Alexandra Candia
DANCERS: Breanna Aceituno, Raffe’ah Alexander, Helen Alfaro, Renee Ananda, Shagun Kaur Aulakh, Belen Bohan, Alicia Brooker, Alexandra Candia, Mayela Carrasco, Stephanie Danielle, Celeste Davila, Alex Downing, Asatu Musunama Hall, Salma Hayder, Metzi Henriquez, Eugene King, Hannah Lee, Lisa Lopez, Tara Love, Rosa Machuca, Angelica Dewitt-Moore, Erica Ramos
PERCUSSIONISTS: Jose Barajas, Hector Benitez, Victorino Cartagena, Michael Gavidia, Tajin de la Torre-Henriquez, Armando Ibarra, Pedro Marroquin, Fred Moore, Kimberly Moore, Amaru Rivera, Jose Rivera

Maracatu do Fogo reenacts a high-energy celebratory Afro-Brazilian coronation for the Rei and Reinha do Congo, the King and Queen of the Congo—a procession originated in Brazil’s colonial era and still celebrated in modern-day Pernambuco. This performance is dedicated to Bay Area African diaspora dancers and to indigenous communities of Brazil, celebrating resistance to tyranny and racism, yesterday and today.

The opening singer tells of the colonial senzala—where enslaved people were kept—and quilombo settlements where enslaved fugitives hid themselves, developing capoeira, resisting the Portuguese colonizers for decades:

Foi de Lunada que me trouxerum pra ca
Vim moer cana pra sihno branco e sihna
Banque no lambo, meu banzo cantei, fiz lundu
No meu lamento cantei o maracatu
Nego suffreu na senzala, nego apanho,
Nego fufiu foi pro mato e quilombo formo...

It was from Lunada (Angola) that I was brought here
I am here to cut cane for the master and his wife
Crate on my back, I sang my longing and created dance
In my lament I sang maracatu
I, the black man, suffered in the senzala.
I was beaten. I fled to the jungle and formed
the quilombo...

In Brazil’s 16th-century, Africans, mainly Angolan, were enslaved regardless of their standing in society. The Portuguese granted leadership roles within Afro-Brazilian communities, and held ceremonies to crown Kings and Queens, known as maracatu, which drew from the African religions Candomblé, Jurema, and Macumba. After abolition in 1888, Nação groups continued the tradition as a symbol of resistance.

On our stage the Baroque court embaixado—ambassador and flag-bearer—leads drummers and singers. Two ladies-in-waiting—damas de paço—carry the sacred Calunga, a wax and wood doll that signifies the tribe’s deity. The King and Queen strut in, mocking Portuguese royalty, their umbrella carried by an enslaved person. The procession ends with Music Director Mestre Jose Rivera leading a batuqueiros team of driving percussionists.

The costumes, by Alexandra Candia, reflect Portuguese and African styles: the ladies-in-waiting’s bright African prints; the queen’s elaborate beading, fabrics, and cowry shells.


TITLE: Carnaval do Fogo
GENRE: Baile Carnavalesco
ARTISTIC DIRECTORS: Jose Rivera, Metzi Henriquez
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Alicia Brooker, Metzi Henriquez
DANCERS: Helen Alfaro, Renee Ananda, Alicia Brooker, Belen Bohan, Alexandra Candia, Angelica Dewitt, Mariko Drew, Princess Adjahni Fields, Rafeah Alexander-Fields, Asatu Hall, Metzi Henriquez, Lisa Lopez, Tara Love, Rosa Machuca
MUSICIANS: Hector Benitez, Victorino Cartagena, Pedro Marroquin, Kimberly Moore, Jose Rivera, Ki Won Yoon, Marcos Zaragoza


In a performance called Carnaval do Fogo, Fogo Na Roupa brings their unstoppable street party to the stage, dancing clothes-on-fire samba, a full contingent of drummers and dancers parading together—and their shared goal is euphoria.

The style is urban-derived, funky samba, inspired by Brazilian samba-reggae. It features the company’s unique, signature parading style, regalia, and movement—coined “Fogolystic” by loyal fans. Samba-reggae is a music and dance form from Salvador, Bahia. It was developed by Brazilians of African descent as carnaval parade music they could call their own, with elements from the reggae rhythms of Jamaica and Afro-Brazilian samba.

The dancers wear full carnaval regalia. Red, green and yellow represent Africa; headpieces of coque feathers honor Brazil’s indigenous people; and the regalia reflects the influence of both cultures.

The Brazilian Carnaval is an annual spring festival, held just before the period of Lent, when Catholics traditionally abstained from eating meat. As Carnaval was the final party before over a month of religious discipline, prayer, and repentance, it had to be a big one! Today, Brazilians are famous for their enormous, six-day, city-wide extravaganzas of dancing and singing in the streets. In southeastern Brazil, and in Carnaval celebrations around the world, small parties called blocos invite everyone to dance, but the parades are filled with skilled, extravagantly decked-out, and minimally-dressed samba schools. In San Francisco’s own Carnaval—celebrated the Sunday before Memorial Day—Fogo Na Roupa is known for fantastic and lively contingents, some two hundred dancers and drummers deep!

The dances and rhythms in this performance were inspired by the teachings of Mestre Carlos Aceituno, which artistic directors Jose Rivera and Metzi Henriquez continue to study and teach to company members. This piece was created and set for stage in 2012 by choreographers Metzi Henriquez and Alicia Brooker. The music is played by the Fogo Na Roupa bateria led by Jose Rivera, a full ensemble of parading drums playing Afro- Brazilian rhythms in “Fogolystic” style.

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