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Sunday, 31 January 2010


The Pai Banan is an extinct Masque that died out by the early 1900's. it was popular in Trinidad's rural districts, where they would appear J'Ouvert morning in small groups. The costume was simple and consisted of bits of cloth and banana leaves. On their heads was a turban or a fula that held cow horns or antennae.  The face was covered by a papier-mâché mask, similar to those of the Pierrot Granade. They went around frightening people in the early hours of J'ouvert morning.
The MAS Jumbies version presents a more sinister visage of this traditional masque.
The Costume
1)Unique light-weight head mask, made with black crocus material, cloth and plastic strips. The see-through facemask has eye holes and is enhanced with a chrome silver diamond detail chain and two black horns with gold band details. Some strips fall to the ankle (can be cut).
2) Natural Pod Necklace (adjustable).
3) Black cloth (ankle length) sarong for both men & women.
4) Silver Bell ankle or wrist band.
5) Black vest for the women.
6) Mandatory Black Body paint.
TT$400.00/ US$65.00

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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Barranquilla prepares to party at carnival

Just one week remains until the start of one of Colombia's biggest cultural events - the Carnival of Barranquilla is set to take the city by storm at the beginning of February.
UNESCO named the carnival, held annually in the city of Barranquilla on Colombia's Caribbean coast, as one of the "Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity."
This year's celebration will be particularly special, as it coincides with the 200th anniversary of Colombian independence.
"It all starts on the Saturday with the Battle of the Flowers, a parade that goes down the main industrial street in Barranquilla, Via 40. This is about 40 blocks where performers show off their dancing, joy and humor. It's a stream of people, from all different backgrounds, who have just one mission: to have fun," explains Diego Gonzalez, a local professional.
Visitors to the carnival can also expect to see groups performing traditional and folkloric music and dance from all over the country, including cumbia, porro, mapale and fandango. Barranquilla's festivities are considered some of the most colorful and lively in the world and second in size only to those in Rio de Janeiro.
This year's carnival will run from February 1 to February 28.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Bunji bows out show

Four-time Soca Monarch Bunji Garlin is not competing in this year’s International Power Soca Monarch competition.
Bunji placed second in last year’s edition of the competition. His wife, Fay-Ann Lyons, is the defending Power Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch.
Ian Pantin, Bunji Garlin’s manager, told the Express on Tuesday that Garlin, who walked away with the title in 2002 (tied with Iwer George), 2004, 2005 and 2008 has decided to focus on his wife’s campaign to retain both titles.
’Bunji has decided to bow out of Soca Monarch in order to work on setting things in place for Fay-Ann’s performances at the finals. He is focused on research, planning and getting her ready for finals night,’ Pantin said.
Lyons won both the titles last year, one week before giving birth to her daughter, S’rai. She is defending the Power Soca with ’True Lies’ and the Groovy Soca with ’Start Wining.’

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Let’s help Haiti

I got this message from the Wyclef Jean website, the way I see it, if your thinking of donating monies it might as well be on his web site.So let’s all do what we can for our neighbours in Haiti they need us now more than ever... 

“Haiti today faced a natural disaster of unprecedented proportion, an earthquake unlike anything the country has ever experienced.
The magnitude 7.0 earthquake – and several very strong aftershocks – struck only 10 miles from Port-au-Prince.

I cannot stress enough what a human disaster this is, and idle hands will only make this tragedy worse. The over 2 million people in Port-au-Prince tonight face catastrophe alone. We must act now.
President Obama has already said that the U.S. stands ‘ready to assist’ the Haitian people. The U.S. Military is the only group trained and prepared to offer that assistance immediately. They must do so as soon as possible. The international community must also rise to the occasion and help the Haitian people in every way possible.”
Many people have already reached out to see what they can do right now. We are asking those interested to please do one of two things: Either you can use your cell phone to text “Yele” to 501501, which will automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund (it will be charged to your cell phone bill), or you can visit and click on DONATE.
Haiti needs your prayers and support: Wyclef Jean on CNN

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


For decades Notting Hill Carnival has had the worldwide reputation of being the biggest street festival in Europe, in recent times however the popularity of this Caribbean festival, has waned as to has the creativity seen on the streets, never the less Notting hill is not simply a street party in London it is the direct descendant of the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, and her History like that of her Mother is a history of culture and creativity triumphantly gaining prominence over oppression and bigotry .(the first Trinidad styled Carnival ever held in London was on January 30, 1959.)

Here is an article written by a Carnival Legend Ray Funk that I came across in the Caribbean Beat Magazine on the early days of the Notting Hill Carnival, with particular emphasis on the woman whose contribution to the start of NHC has gained her above most recognition as the mother of the Notting Hill Carnival the late Claudia Jones....

by Ray Funk

It's Europe's biggest street festival, but it got off to an unlikely start – indoors, in winter, with a crowd of a thousand people. Ray Funk looks back at the early days of London's Notting Hill Carnival

Fifty years ago, England’s first real Trinidad-style Carnival took place – indoors, in the middle of winter, at St Pancras Town Hall.
The vision of Claudia Jones, this was the precursor to Notting Hill Carnival. It came to an end after six years, but in 1967, it was followed by the first Notting Hill Carnival, which took to the streets and followed the Carnival traditions first advanced in England by Jones.
In the wake of the Notting Hill Riots of 1958, Jones had wanted to put on display for the British that unique Caribbean explosion of joy and culture, carnival. She and her newspaper sponsored the carnival each year until she died. Although it was based on the Trinidad Carnival, and a large number of Trinidadians participated, Jones wanted the event to be like the West Indies cricket team, a pan-Caribbean institution. She wrote in the souvenir booklet of her desire for the carnival to evoke a “wholehearted response from the peoples from the Islands of the Caribbean in the new West Indies Federation. [T]his is itself testament to the role of the arts in bringing people together for common aims, and to its fusing of the cultural, spiritual, as well as political and economic interests of West Indians in the UK and at home.”
While little remembered for many years, Jones (1915 – 64) is gaining recognition for her activism. She faced jail and exile for her political beliefs while living in the United States. Later extradited to Britain, she founded the first weekly black newspaper in England, the West Indian Gazette.

Last year saw a fascinating second book about her published, Carole Boyce Davies’ Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones. In England a postage stamp was issued in her honour, and two plaques were put up at Portobello Road and Powis Square in London, calling her “the mother of Notting Hill Carnival”.
Born in Trinidad, Jones moved to Harlem with her family when she was eight. As she grew up, she became concerned about working conditions for the poor, and this led her to join the Young Communist League of the Communist Party of the USA, becoming a writer and later editor of a party newspaper. As a leading speaker for the party, she was alone in presenting the perspective of a black working woman on labour and discrimination. During the McCarthy era, she was jailed four times, and in 1955, she was deported to England, where she founded her newspaper to serve the Caribbean immigrant community.

After horrible race riots in the central England town of Nottingham and then the Notting Hill area of London, Jones organised a meeting to discuss what could be done. Donald Hinds, a writer for the Gazette, recently recalled what happened next: “Claudia asked for suggestions which would wash the taste of Notting Hill and Nottingham out of our mouths. It was then that someone, most likely a Trinidadian, suggested that we should have a carnival – in winter? It was [November] of 1958. Everybody laughed, and then Claudia called us to order. ‘Why not?’ she asked. ‘Could it not be held in a hall somewhere?’”
Jones went to two leading Trinidadian artists to put the show together. She chose as director Edric Connor, already a prominent actor and singer, who was having great success in feature films and had just been the first black actor to appear in a Royal Shakespeare Company production in Stratford. As choreographer, she chose a talented Trinidadian dancer who had moved to England only months before, Stanley Jack

The first London carnival, on January 30, 1959, was a packed event and a great success. Connor, the director, had told the Jamaica Gleaner, “We want to make it as much like the Port of Spain one as possible.” A crew worked from midnight to 7 am to transform the hall into a West Indian setting. But the hall proved inadequate, as over 1,000 people showed up to dance and party. Connor had arranged for the BBC to broadcast live a half-hour glimpse of the carnival, which featured the crowning of the Carnival Queen and the cabaret portion of the evening.
The main event was a beauty contest with 12 contestants, six from Jamaica, four from Trinidad, and one each from British Guiana and St Vincent. The winner got a free round trip to Trinidad for Carnival. Corinne Skinner-Carter was blunt at the 1996 symposium in stating the importance of this.
“This was before the Black Power days. This was before we all knew that we were beautiful. We might not have known it, but she knew that we were beautiful, and she started this beauty contest.”

There was much dancing, by everyone who attended, but there was also a cabaret performance by a number of artists. The reporter for the Jamaica Gleaner noted: “Despite the cramped conditions, the show went on with a bang. Songs from Edric Connor, The Southlanders and the Sepia Serenaders and dances from David Berahzer’s Malimba Dancers were enthusiastically received. Trinidad calypsonian – The Mighty Terror – sang the number he had specially composed for the occasion, and the evening was enlivened by Errol Phillips and the Trinidad Hummingbirds steelband, with solos by Venice Villarion.”

Also featured were Boscoe Holder and his troupe, performing “Carnival Fantasia”. There were exhibitions of limbo dancing, tamboo bamboo, and bongo. Fitzroy Coleman performed on his guitar and the young jazz singer Cleo Laine performed with Guyanese pianist Mike McKenzie and his trio.
It was appropriate that Terror was the first calypsonian featured, since in 1955 he had recorded a calypso decrying the lack of mas, “No Carnival in Britain”:

Continue click here.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Goddesses of Samba in Brazil´s Carnival: How are they Chosen?

Samba dancing may sound only as fun, especially for foreigners. But in Brazil, this activity is taken very seriously by amateur and professional dancers, as we will see below. Samba dancing in the Carnival of Brazil is part of our culture and somehow national identity. Just like Jazz in New Orleans, Tango in Argentina, and Salsa at the Caribbean, samba dancing is taught since the very early stages of life of Brazilians. In a natural form, every woman, (and some men too), learn how to samba dance to some extent, but are evidently not professionals. On this article, we will explain how samba-schools like Mangueira and Unidos da Tijuca, clubs, and other institutions linked to the carnival in Brazil conduct contests to discover and pick the best samba contests in Brazil.
As you have probably heard or seen, the BrazilianCarnaval became a very professional institution. Everyone involved want to make sure only the best resources are used, both material and human. A carnival parade encompasses many wings, and in one of them, as an example, only the best can join, as the "elite samba dancers' wing", or, as they care called in Portuguese, the "Passistas Wing". Now how do these traditional samba-schools pick the very best samba dancers among thousands in the country, to represent the samba-school during a carnival season? Well, most of them conduct a challenging and very competitive samba dance contests in Rio and Sao Paulo.

The contests may sometimes take more than 2 or 3 rounds, and they normally happen at the samba-schools premises or famous samba auditoriums or specialized clubs. A series of criteria are used to aid jurors select the best dancers. Just like a beauty pageant contest in the US, not only the beauty, or in this case, the dance per say is evaluated, but a series of attributes. Some of the criteria evaluated by the specialized jury include the candidates´ grace, posture, and coordination. But above all, the judging panel closely look at the "samba at the feet" criterion, or "Samba no Pé", to use the original expression in Portuguese, which is the specific ability to dance the samba.
The jury is normally composed of experienced samba dancers, choreographers, former "Drum Queens" and important personalities in the Samba community. Number of candidates may vary and range from 20 up to 50, in famous contests. Some of the samba dancers come from very simple background, and they see these contests as a great opportunity to project themselves within the carnival community and media in general. Many of them, after winning these contests became authentic Carnival Queens, Muses, actresses and models. Tatiana Pagung, one of the all time Samba Dancers in the Carnival of Brazil, started her professional life winning several contests. Shayene Cesario, former Carnival Princess in Rio and this year´s Carnaval Queen, won Rio de Janeiro contest mainly because of her great samba skills and impressive beauty.

Rio hosts several contests, and one of the most important samba dancing contests is the Rio de Janeiro Carnival Queen and Princess competition promoted by the city´s official tourism body, called RIOTUR. This contest is always held on October and is extremely concurred. This year, more than 30 candidates took part of the competition and all major contenders displayed excellent samba routines. So next time in the Carnival of Brazil, try to visit one of these interesting contest-shows in the pre-Carnival period. Maybe you will learn how to dance the samba too!



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