A Brisbane dancer is making history at this year’s Rio Carnival – the first foreigner asked to be a Samba Queen!

As the world famous parade weaves its way through the streets of Rio, the floats full of dancers and the streets surging with millions of carnival-goers, a Brisbane performer and her tour group will be in the thick of it! 

“Each year I take a tour to the Rio Carnival and this year my tour participants will be dancing on a Samba school float in the carnival parade!” says Mishel Finlayson, Director of Brisbane-based Brazilian dance company Sambaliscious.

“This is the first time in history that there will be an Australian Samba team on a float in the Carnival, and I will be presenting this float as the Carnival Samba Queen – which is also a first!”

Every Samba school in Rio has a nominated Samba Queen and Finlayson was invited by a Rio Samba school to be their queen in the parade.

“They don’t usually take foreigners, but because I have been going over for a decade and I train with Samba queens, I was invited,” she says. “The rehearsals are incredible. Picture this warehouse full of live drumming and thousands of dancers rehearsing. Then I go out after rehearsal into the streets and practice.”

The Samba is in her blood, Finlayson says. “I was working in a language school and my Brazilian students introduced me to the music and dance. I was curious, so I took off and went to Brazil.

“While there, I studied with dance masters and participated in carnivals and that was it for me, I wanted to go back every year and I eventually lived there for two years.”

If learning Samba or taking part in the Rio Carnival is on your bucket list, then take a leaf out of Finlayson’s book and just do it!