The frenetic music and vibrant colors of the Frevo, a Brazilian carnival dance, have been immortalized by UNESCO as a world heritage treasure.
The electrifying tradition from the city of Recife will now stand alongside the likes of the Argentine tango, the Spanish flamenco and the French gastronomic meal, all protected by the U.N. as pieces of the world’s ‘intangible heritage.’
The one-week annual UNESCO committee meeting, which ended Friday, aims to raise the profile and give financial support to endangered elements of global culture.
UNESCO describes ‘intangible heritage’ as practices and living expressions handed down from one generation to the next, including rituals, traditions and know-how.
Naize Abreu was one of the Frevo performers who flew in to UNESCO headquarters in Paris from Recife to support the nomination and dance in front of the delegates.
‘The joy I have is indescribable,’ said Abreu, standing in a bright costume with a traditional multicolored umbrella, upon hearing the news. ‘I am proud that our unique local culture will now be known throughout the world.’
The ‘Fest-Noz,’ a traditional French dance from Brittany, was also given heritage status, to safeguard a tradition that dates from the 1950s. Further afield, the Korean national folk song the ‘Arirang,’ which is known universally throughout the divided North and South was also inscribed in the list, which now numbers 257 elements.
‘The concept … poorly understood just a few years ago, has gained ground everywhere,’ said Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO.
The Intangible Heritage Convention started compiling its list of protected elements in 2008. UNESCO world heritage sites, which are actual places, were designated in June.