By Janet Tappin Coelho in Rio de Janeiro
If Flavia Lyra wasn’t performing at this year’s Rio Carnival she would be part of the security crew covering safety in the Sambadrome during the five-day event.
For the newly crowned queen of Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school is normally a firefighter when she’s not performing her sizzling hot dance moves.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning (13 February), the 29-year-old fire officer swapped her red and khaki military uniform for a more glamorous look that showed off her voluptuous curves and well-toned body.
And according to samba standards, the smouldering beauty made sure she was sufficiently covered up so there was no gratuitous nudity that would embarrass the fire department.
“I made it clear to my bosses that I would not be naked or be covered in body paint or wear a tiny patch that only concealed my private parts,” Flavia revealed.
The busty first lieutenant made her debut dressed in an exotic feline costume that referenced the jungle creatures in the school’s plot which was themed ‘A Real Night at The National Museum.
In a mesmerising interpretation of her role, the Carnival queen clawed, stalked and sambaed her way down the avenue.
The gym-fit officer, who admits she is passionate about Carnival, was the red hot favourite to take over the top spot when Brazilian actress Cris Vianna, who held the queen’s position for five years, decided 2017 would be her last year performing with the school.
But after being chosen for the key position last year, Flavia, who has been a Rio firefighter since 2010, faced an uncertain few weeks when corporation bosses found out about her high-profile dance plans.
Worried that her Carnival calling would undermine her career and heap disrespect on the fire department, fire chiefs hauled the trained rescuer in for a firm chat.
Flavia said: “I knew there would be a few concerns among senior management about the sort of exposure my new role would bring to the fire department.
“There is a strong and clear contrast between my military career as a fire fighter and my passion performing in the Carnival as a samba dancer. But I explained that I intended to be well-behaved and my costume wouldn’t compromise my commitment to my job or damage the fire department’s reputation.”
Even so, the down-to-earth brunette, who serves in the same force with her husband, Captain Fernando Ferreiro, said she intended to leave her mark on the role.
And according to observers who watched her dance at dawn, the newcomer did just that.
To prepare herself for one of the most coveted titles in the world of samba, the scorching hot artist took a short break from her job.
“I wanted to dedicate myself totally to fulfilling this great moment,” she confided. “I followed a rigorous diet and attended intense rehearsals at the school camp to get into shape for my big day.”
The star dancer admitted she suffered sleepless nights worrying about her major role and banned her husband from watching on Tuesday because his presence would have made her ‘too nervous’.
“Although he supports what I do, he is very jealous and would be getting more and more worked up with the level of attention this position attracts,” Flavia revealed.
“I’m used to posing and taking lots of pictures, but Fernando is always afraid that some men will verbally disrespect me or touch me. So I told him to come along after I’d finished.”
The former body builder, who won a Wellness competition is 2015, which celebrates women sporting well-toned thighs and small waists, still recalls the days she stood on duty on the side-lines in the Marques de Sapucai Sambadrome as a firefighter watching the samba schools pass in front of her.
“Back then, I had to keep my composure and suppress my desire to dance when I heard the irresistible beat of the drums,” Flavia admitted.
Today was a different story and a dream come true for the sultry performer, but the beautiful samba queen confessed that as she danced down the avenue in front of the adoring crowd, she was still on guard at the back of her mind.
“Thank goodness nothing untoward happened during the show because my instincts as a firefighter would have kicked in, and I wouldn’t have thought twice about racing to the rescue in my high heels,” Flavia declared as she recalled last February’s tragic incident when a float at the tail end of the Paraiso do Tuiuti parade crashed into side railings in the stadium during wet weather.
As the vehicle entered the samba strip it skidded into the fence injuring 20 bystanders and critically wounding radio broadcaster, Elizabeth Ferreira Jofre, 55, known as Liza Carioca. She tragically died two months later from complications resulting from her injuries.
“Dancing in this prime position is a huge responsibility and when many people see our pictures they think that’s all we do,” Flavia conceded.
“But I am a firefighter first and foremost and I love my job. For me it’s vital to be able to keep both passions burning while knowing which one is the most important,” she said.