By Paul Kia’i Modde
January 28, 2008
The ‘who’s who’ of Toronto’s High Society come together every year to help raise awareness and money for worthy causes. The Brazilian Ball has raised nearly $47 million dollars to date. There have been numerous causes that have benefited including health care, research, education and culture in Canada and Brazil.
This spectacular event gives the guests a taste of Brazilian Carnival with a parade of colourful costumes and gyrating dancers who entertain and spur the crowd to embrace the spirit of Rio’s Carnival and to samba the night away.
From its beginnings as a small event in a church basement in Toronto, this event has evolved into a highly anticipated and well supported charitable fundraiser in Canada.
Seven people got together in 1966 and decided to bring all the magic, beauty and traditions of the world famous Brazilian Carnival to Toronto. This introduced the hot blooded music, a new rhythm to Toronto, which packed the dance floor all night long.
In subsequent years the Ball grew in popularity and size and was hosted at various 5 Star Hotels. International recognition was received in 2002 when the Ball was held in the Chateau de Versailles in France. Proceeds from that evening benefited the Louis Pasteur Institute.
Anna Maria de Souza founded the event. She soon realized that the Ball was becoming very successful. Thus, it became the perfect medium to raise funds for charitable causes. In 1973, Variety Village became the first recipient of the Brazilian Carnival Ball in Canada and through the years other beneficiaries have included Princess Margaret Hospital (prostate cancer research), St. Michael’s Hospital (heart disease research), and York University (Accolade Project, Faculty of Fine Arts).
Today, the Brazilian Carnival Ball is held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and attracts 1,800 guests and raises over $2 million net each year, making it one of the largest fund-raising galas in the country. Sixty Carnival dancers entertain the Toronto crowd with their dancing and dazzling costumes, which are flown from Brazil to Toronto each year for the event.
Celebrity and dignitary attendance is always a highlight of the Ball and this year is no exception. The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, The Honourable James K. Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, His Excellency Valdemar Carneiro Leao, Ambassador of Brazil to Canada, His Excellency Americo Dyott Fontenelle, Consul General of Brazil in Toronto, The Honourable George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-term Care, Deputy Premier, and His Worship David Miller, Mayor of Toronto, all gave their patronage to the Ball and some were in attendance on Saturday evening.
In addition, Rex Harrington, formerly one of Canada’s premier male ballet dancers for the National Ballet of Canada, Chan Hoh Goh, principal dancer at the National Ballet of Canada, and Brazilian model Caroline Bittencourt were also in attendance.
Zeka Marquez the world famous Brazilian artist and designer was responsible for the striking and lavish decor. Luis de Castro was the talented decor manager.
About the Writer: Paul Kia’i Modde is a 9th generation Canadian Metis. Metis are one of Canada’s three recognized Aboriginal cultures, the other being First Nations and Inuit more commonly known as Eskimos.
Paul is a freelance journalist who has been involved in Media and Entertainment for over 30 years. He was an FM Radio Producer Host for six years. In this capacity his program featured history, music and culture from Hawaii, the South Pacific and Cuba.
In 1996 he was given a Hawaiian name by the internationally renowned Hawaiian historian and entertainer, affectionately known as Uncle George Naope. He received this honor for being recognized as Canada’s foremost ambassador and promoter of Hawaiian music and culture. His Hawaiian name is Kia’i O Na Mea Nani O Hawaii, Guardian and Keeper of all things Hawaiian.
Paul is coming to Brazil in February to explore the possibilities of living there and to see if there are any opportunities for his talents, knowledge and expertise in the land of Samba. He can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.“