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Brazil Carnival dancers, iconic samba parade stars

In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, "passista," or samba dancer Diana Prado performs in a carnival parade at central station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A call center supervisor by day the 27-year-old's double life is split down the middle, between the glitz and glam, feathers and body paint of Carnival and the workaday office reality of head-sets and cubicles. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, "passista," or samba dancer Diana Prado performs in a carnival parade at central station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A call center supervisor by day the 27-year-old's double life is split down the middle, between the glitz and glam, feathers and body paint of Carnival and the workaday office reality of head-sets and cubicles. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Swathed in nothing but a sprinkling of sequins and a puff of feathers, Rio de Janeiro's samba group dancers are the star attractions of the world's most iconic Carnival celebrations.

In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, samba dancer Diana Prado performs during a carnival parade at central station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Prado spends her daylight hours working as a supervisor at a call center. At night, she is a samba dancer, or "passista," as they're known in Portuguese. Prado made her Carnival debut at age 19, after auditioning for a spot with the Sao Clemente, one of 13 top-tier schools that will compete for the annual titles at the Sambadrome this weekend. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, samba dancer Diana Prado performs during a carnival parade at central station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Prado spends her daylight hours working as a supervisor at a call center. At night, she is a samba dancer, or "passista," as they're known in Portuguese. Prado made her Carnival debut at age 19, after auditioning for a spot with the Sao Clemente, one of 13 top-tier schools that will compete for the annual titles at the Sambadrome this weekend. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

But they're not on the payroll of the samba groups they represent — and many have to work decidedly unglamorous jobs, serving as maids or secretaries to make ends meet.

In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, samba dancer Diana Prado, right, is with her costume as she prepares for a carnival parade at central station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Though samba dancers, or "passistas," as they're known in Portuguese, are unquestionably the star attractions of the world's most iconic Carnival celebrations, they're not on the payroll of the samba school they represent. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, samba dancer Diana Prado, right, is with her costume as she prepares for a carnival parade at central station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Though samba dancers, or "passistas," as they're known in Portuguese, are unquestionably the star attractions of the world's most iconic Carnival celebrations, they're not on the payroll of the samba school they represent. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Diana Prado spends her daylight hours working as a supervisor at a call center. At night, she is a samba dancer, or "passista," as they're known in Portuguese, for the Sao Clemente group.

In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, samba dancer Diana Prado looks in a makeup mirror as applies makeup before the start of a carnival parade at central station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Prado made her Carnival debut at age 19, after auditioning for a spot with the Sao Clemente, one of 13 top-tier schools that will compete for the annual titles at the Sambadrome this weekend. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, samba dancer Diana Prado looks in a makeup mirror as applies makeup before the start of a carnival parade at central station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Prado made her Carnival debut at age 19, after auditioning for a spot with the Sao Clemente, one of 13 top-tier schools that will compete for the annual titles at the Sambadrome this weekend. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

"I get up, run to dance class, come to work, go to rehearsal and fall into bed," said Prado, wearing a headset and sitting among the cubicles at her downtown Rio office." In the run-up to Carnival, it's pretty chaotic. I don't sleep much at all from September through now."

Prado, 26, made her Carnival debut seven years ago, after auditioning for a spot with the Sao Clemente, one of 13 top-tier schools that will compete for the annual titles at the Sambadrome this weekend.

Although her hectic schedule of pre-Carnival preparations often requires her to apply her extravagant glitter stage makeup in the office bathroom, Prado insists being a passista doesn't undermine her authority with the 15 telemarketers she supervises.

"We see how determined she is, how she busts her butt to get everything done and it's really admirable," said employee Ana Lucia Oliveira. "I'm from Rio and grew up with Carnival, loving Carnival, so it's amazing to be this close to someone who lives Carnival every day."