About Us

Aquarela Brazilian Dance Ensemble and Samba School was founded in 1986 with the goal of promoting Brazilian culture and Carnaval throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

Aquarela means watercolor in Portuguese and the group has always appointed dancers from a variety of different backgrounds to reflect the color and diversity of Brazil. Since its inception, the dance ensemble, consisting of 6-8 Passistas (samba dancers), has been under the artistic leadership of Maria Amabilis de Souza, with additional direction from Silvana da Silva Sousa in recent years.

In the more than 25 years of Aquarela’s existence, Aquarela has maintained its reputation as the most sought after Brazilian entertainment company in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its members take pride in always presenting high quality and authentic styles of music and dance. In addition to the difficult and extravagantly explosive Rio de Janeiro style of samba (samba no pe), Aquarela’s dancers perform a variety of styles that showcase the diversity of Brazilian culture, including axe, samba reggae, pagode, forro, xaxado and frevo. The group is also noted for its creative and daring costumes, which are inspired from the latest fashions of the samba schools in Rio.

Aquarela has participated in many major events and celebrations throughout California and abroad. Some of these include the 1994 Soccer World Cup Opening Ceremonies, the Black and White Ball of the San Francisco Symphony, the Goldman Environmental Award Ceremony, Macy’s Passport Fashion Shows, San Francisco 49ers games, and many Carnaval parades in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Hawaii. Aquarela’s dancers have performed with such world renowned musicians as Carlos Santana, Cidade Negra and Jorge Aragao. They have performed internationally on extended tours of Taiwan and Singapore. The San Francisco Carnaval Grand Parade has elected five official Queens and four Kings from Aquarela, making Aquarela the group to produce the most Carnaval royalty of any other competitive cultural dance group in the Bay Area.