Austin Samba, also known as the Acadêmicos da Ópera, is a group of over 40 drummers and 60 dancers that performs the music and dance of Brazilian Carnaval, with styles ranging from Rio to Bahia.

We perform at parades, festivals and special occasions, bringing the music, movement, color, pageantry and joy of Carnaval to events throughout the region.


Austin Samba is a community educational and performance group founded in 2001 by Robert "Jacaré" Patterson to bring the joy of Brazilian music and dance to Texas. We are open to the community, offering classes to beginners every year.


Founder and President - Robert "Jacaré" Patterson
Director - Lee Clippard
Assistant Director - Clark Richards
Dance Directors - Imani Aanu, Naomi Espinoza and Tammy Harden

What is samba?

Historically the most popular of all the Brazilian rhythms, samba is played very fast with a powerful drive. You simply cannot sit still when you hear samba. Sambas are traditionally performed in Brazil by neighborhood escolas de samba (samba schools), many of which perform in the famous Sambódromo in Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval.

Austin Samba plays traditional Rio-style samba, samba reggae from Bahia, and other music adapted from Afro-Brazilian traditions from around the world.

We often partner with the Las Monas performance company from San Antonio for Dia de los Muertos celebrations, Carnaval performances and more.

What is a samba school?

A samba school, or escola de samba, is utmost and foremost a community. It is a community of people brought together by the joy and celebration of life that is Brazilian Carnaval. The members of the community come from all walks of life and in all sizes, shapes, colors, races and nationalities.

They bring to the community many talents.

They are drummers, dancers, artists, photographers, singers, guitar players, horn players, costume makers, computer nerds, planners, thinkers and others all of whom bring their special talents and their commitment to the table. They come for the chance to work together to create something amazing and to be a part of something that is much bigger than the sum of its parts. It is the community and its members that make the spectacle of Brazilian Carnaval “the greatest show on earth.”

Austin Samba is patterned after the great samba schools of Rio, such as Unidos da Tijuca, Portela and Salgueiro, and we strive to embrace all of the positive qualities of the traditional samba school discussed above.

Our leadership has performed with blocos such as Bangalafumenga and Xupa Mas Não Baba, among others.


Every year since 2005, Austin Samba has chosen an annual theme for its Carnaval season, just as happens in Rio. When Austin Samba was originally founded, the school held rehearsals in the Austin Lyric Opera studios, which is why our official escola name is "Acadêmicos da Ópera." We no longer rehearse in the opera facilities, but we did choose themes for the first 5 years based on well-known operas. Here are the themes, or enredos, that Austin Samba has performed over the years:

  • 2005 - Flight of the Valkyries
  • 2006 - Pagliacci
  • 2007 - Pirates of Penzance
  • 2008 - Madame Butterfly
  • 2009 - Aida
  • 2010 - Space Opera
  • 2011 - Alice in Wonderland
  • 2012 - Wizard of Oz
  • 2013 - Peter Pan
  • 2014 - Orfeu (Tenth Anniversary Celebration)
  • 2015 - O Circo Místico
  • 2016 - Texas! A Horse Opera (Music from Texas)
  • 2017 - The Big Easy (Music from New Orleans)
  • 2018 - A Night in Rio