‘‘I never, ever imagined I'd be dancing in Carnival in a costume that’s so small that I should be wondering where it went,’’ said Gulbrandsen, who moved to Rio about a year and a half ago with her husband, who works for Merrill Lynch. ‘‘I danced ballet and tap as a kid and that helps, but nothing prepares you for this.’’
Gulbrandsen said it took her about 10 lessons to manage to dance anything even vaguely resembling the samba. Her British-born classmate Jane Strachey said it’s taken her even longer.
‘‘I've been taking classes for about a year, and my moves have definitely improved but I have to face the fact that I'm never going to dance like a Brazilian,’’ said Strachey, who moved here with her husband two years ago. ‘‘When I went to my first Carnival, I thought these girls were so beautiful and I wanted to be able to dance like them.’’
‘‘And 12 months later, I am, but ‘gringo’ style,’’ she said, employing the Portuguese word Brazilians use to refer to all foreigners.