Mara Reggae, another huge contingent, is
based on Brazilian tradition. Their theme is "If you have a heart...you
can dance". They celebrate life and recognize all shapes and colors; peace
and harmony to all of us, who are brothers and sisters. Rhonda,
with her beautiful energy, and Mestre Low, outstanding
percussionist, are the Artistic Directors.
Marra Reggae has been a faithful, consistent and award-winning contributor
DANCE KAISO's Carnaval SF 2004 masquerade
takes the form of a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. The float is a
horse-drawn carriage from which a Southern Belle greets the crowd.
Following is The Gumbo Band, a 13-piece Dixieland marching band led by Big
Chief Takawaka (Henry Clement of Crowley, Louisiana) in an authentic Mardi
Gras Indian Chief costume. Mardi Gras Jesters, French Quarter Ladies, and
specialty characters. Robin Frey and Wilfred Mark, the
directors, traveled to New Orleans in February in order to bring back
authentic Mardi Gras vibes. This year's theme colors are the traditional
Mardi Gras purple, green, and yellow/gold.
Brazil Culture and Arts, located in Palo
Alto, will celebrate Rio de Janeiro's 400th birthday. This is their 16th
year, and they'll be displaying many different aspects of Brazilian
culture, such as typical dances and martial arts. There's a Baiana section
(from Salvador, Bahia), and Samba, gracious synchronized dance movement of
the whole body. "Working in the plantation fields" will be represented by
Maculele, a dance performed with sticks. Mestre Beicola, tops in
Capoeira, Samba, drums, singing, performing and everything else, is an
envoy of Brazilian culture. The website is
The Baby Buggy Brigade, now in its third
year, is growing fast. The Artistic Director, Milanda Moore, is a
former Carnaval SF Queen (1997).
to see her picture. There was never a tradition of babies in the parade
until the Baby Buggy Brigade created one. Now, they are a mainstay of the
contingents, as revelers procreate! Simple but effective costuming for
both young and old makes this a user-friendly contingent for parents. What
a great way for young families to enjoy Carnaval. Everybody has fun.
Good Samaritan Family Resource Center,
presenting "Latino Mix", is doing a special tribute to the Queen of
Salsa, Celia Cruz. The theme is Ochun con Chango, named after a song by
Celia Cruz. Afro-Latino spiritual elements from the Yoruba tradition will
be emphasized, with Orisha dance as found in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and
Brazil. There will also be Salsa and Bomba y Plena. Costumes will be made
by Mario Chacon, one of our beloved Carnaval Kings. Check here for some
good pictures of the group.
Jouvay.com is as hot as ever, with
This year, the band is going back to some of the original instruments used
in the Caribbean. The lyrics of the theme song calls on the revellers to
stop and take a listen to the past, hear the tambu bamboo start to sound,
hear the cowbells, shack and steel pan start to play! They are recreating
these instruments; the following is an excellent description of the
Mas Makers Massive, directed by Stephen
Tiffenson of Trinidad, presents the Roaring Twenties, featuring jazz
legends Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong, etc. The costumes and
choreography incorporate swing and charleston into contemporary soca.
Mas Makers Massive supports the youth in East Oakland. Many of the
Carnaval Contingents make major efforts to include children, and teach
them art, creativity, and culture. It is a priceless gift.
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts is
focusing on Carnaval traditions in Latin America with emphasis on the
Caribbean. They will be fusing Merengue from the Dominican Republic, Bomba
from Puerto Rico, Son, Conga and Rumba from Cuba, and Cumbia from
Colombia. On the float will be a traditional drum from the Dominican
Republic called a "Tambora"; and an accordion. Hits of the late Celia Cruz
will be used, but with local and improvised lyrics. Also on display will
be giant paper mache figures from Vera Cruz, Mexico, and Vejigante masks
from Puerto Rico.
Sambasia is an integration of the Samba
percussion traditions of Salvador, Bahia Brazil, and the Japanese Folk
Drum and Dance traditions of Hachijo and Tanko Bushi within a contemporary
cross-cultural framework. This year they will bring back their signature
mix of multicultural bateria and dancers. After a successful debut last
year as a Rio Carioca style escola, Sambasia this year pays tribute to the
Northeast of Brazil featuring rhythms from Bahia. Special guest artists
will perform Hawaiian Ukelele and song, Japanese Shamisen, Saxophones and
Flutes, and Hip Hop.
Bolivia Corazon de America, our local
Bolivian contingent, parading in the stunning costumes from Bolivia.
Their tradition is the legacy of Afro rhythms with music from native
Bolivian Andes. They have won awards in all the years that they have been
in our parade.
Conjunto Folklorico Panama-America, now in
their 12th year with us, presents the lovely dress called Pollera,
www.somospanama.com/fotos/displayimage.php?album=4 , commemorating 100
years of Panama Independence. They have live music, composed by the
Accordionist, and accompanied by drummers. They bring Panama's strong
Carnaval traditions to the bay area every year.
In the parade for the first time is Energia do Samba,
directed by Maisa Duke. Maisa herself is nostranger to us; she was Carnaval Queen in 2002. Check out this stunning picture:
www.carnaval.com/sf02/King&Q1.jpg worth a thousand words! The
theme is Alegria, the music will be provided by Sons and
Daughters of Orpheus, a batucada group that had its debut in
They play Samba, Banda, and other rhythms for Carnaval, and also appear in
Dia de los Muertos. See
Association of Colombian-Americans is
presenting the Carnaval de Barranquilla, one of the most popular Carnavals
in the Western Hemisphere, and recognized by UNESCU as a "masterpiece of
the oral and immaterial patrimony of humanity" in 2003. Outstanding by its
traditional and popular forms of expression for more than a century, it
combines music, dance, rituals and mythology. Born of the union between
European Carnavals and the cultural manifestations of resistance of the
African natives, it has allowed a Colombian town to preserve its
myths, beliefs and expressions.
is one of many sites of information on the web. Beatriz Restrepo,
the choreographer, has been active in the Bay Area for many years.
All Ah We,
www.allahwe.org , an active group
that plays in the Berkeley Flea Market, the "How Berkeley Can You Be"
parade, and other venues, is going into its 12th year, and Suzanne
Ludlum ("Sweetwaist") is bringing out an award-winning Caribbean style
masquerade production accompanied by master drummers from Africa and the
Caribbean. They have unique, fun to wear costumes (I know this
The Bay Area Boricuas is our Puerto Rican folkloric
group. They play Bomba using wonderful drums called Barriles, accompanied
by song and dance, all
interconnected. The dance is improvised; steps are
in response to the lead drum and, at the same time,
challenge its beat. This kind of communication among drummer, singer, and
dancer, came directly from Africa, although it is also found in Brazil,
Belize, and the rest of the Caribbean, it is seldom mentioned or taught
here in San Francisco.
They promise to have typical Puerto Rican carnaval
masks and garments, like those shown here:
Ghungroo Dance Academy, which premiered last
year, is a very active Indian Folk Dance School. Their vivacious music and
graceful folk dances complement SF Carnaval, and those of us who saw their
performance at the Carnaval Awards Ceremony last year will never forget
the high-energy dance and music.
Grupo Aztlan de San Francisco, a Mexican
Folkloric group, will present Veracruz Carnaval. Comparsa and Afro-Cuban
music, with Brazilian style costumes illustrate the theme: Life is a
Mixcoatl-Anahuac are Aztec dancers from the
Valley of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), keeping tradition alive from
father to son.
The White Eagle dance symbolizes the eternal struggle between the eagles
that symbolize the heaven, and the jaguar that symbolizes the earth. The
balance between day-night, good-bad, hot-cold.
Mo' Love, a contingent with a real, live
Steelband, joins us for the fourth time with its enchanting music. "Still
sailin' the world in search of peace and mo' love. The sailor band escorts
steelband players and jumps up to their enchanting music. The tradition
comes from Trinidad, birthplace of the steel drum. Sailor dance is a
freewheeling interpretation of the swagger of a drunken sailor and strut
of proud admirals. The basic white outfit of the sailor is a canvas on
which to paint/ design whatever the individual wishes to express.
Nueva Generacion Salsera, formerly Buena Vida
Salsa Club, has a live band, and hot dancing. Rueda de Canino is the hip,
sexy salsa version of square dancing. A group of people dances in a circle
to salsa music, exchanging partners. Rueda is not choreographed. It
requires having rhythm, style and the ability to listen and respond
quickly to the leader's call.
Projection Folklorica Guatemalteca Xelaju presents
folk dances from Guatemala. Sones played by the marimba, a special drum,
and a flute, will highlight dances and customs from various parts. All
costumes are handmade.
Pistahan is a group from the Philippines, with a
theme of "recuerdos de ayer/ memories of yesterday." Spanish colonial
heritage as reflected in dance, music, costumes and cultural artifacts
will be displayed on the float. With 7,107 islands, the folk dances and
rituals are as varied as there are villages and different cultural
influences. "Jota" dances or Maria Clara costumes denote provincial rural
life of the elite in colonial society. The lowland ricefield dances of "Tinikling",
"Maglalatik" and barrio fiesta mode show life of the common folk. This
year they feature the Hispanic roots of the culture.
Quimbanda is directed by Gamo da Paz,
master drummer in the Candomble style of Brazil, in conjunction with Tania
www.aguasdabahia.com /. The music incorporates rhythms from Pernambuco
and Rio as breaks and lead-ins to various styles of Samba Reggae. Through
the spirit of the drum, song and dance, they celebrate culture, energy,
and lives. Samba Reggae as played by the Afro-Blocos in Carnaval in Bahia
evolved out of Candomble, Samba and Reggae music. It is the music of
resistance and pride. The Blocos in the late 70's and 80's led a Black
Pride movement inspired in part by the US movement of the 60's and
revolutions in the African Continent. Festa da Musica!
We are delighted to welcome the Spirit of Polynesia
after a long absence. They are expressing the spirit of the Islands of the
South Pacific through Tahitian music and dance. This troupe is the most
traveled Polynesian dance company in the world.
Westcoast Lion Dance Troupe represents a small
portion of Chinese culture. It is fitting to add another culture to the
diverse line up of cultural communities making up the San Francisco
There are many different appearances of a lion head. Such differences are
lions with long white beards to indicate age and wisdom, fluffy fur to
show playfulness, and black fur to characterize fierceness. Various colors
add variety to the arsenal of lion dance teams. No lion head looks the
Norcal Waste Systems, now in their 9th year
as a parade contingent, presents a crowd-pleasing drill team of garbage
collectors and huge, shiny cans on wheels. Antique trucks, a band playing
recycled instruments, and instruments made by artists from recycled
materials make this one of our most unique contingents.
Oya Nike, a West African/ Yoruban group, is
now in its 10th year in the San Francisco Carnaval. Rooted in the Yoruba
tradition, Oya Nike celebrates the Bata drum, which speaks to the Orishas,
calling us together to come dance with the gods. You will see timelessly
traditional masquerades, coming directly from Africa, including belly
dancing www.mysticsun.com ; as well
as ceremonial and ritual costumes being paraded just as though you were in
and musicians performing in tribute to West Africa/ tribal roots music.
Samba do Coracao has participated in SF
Carnaval for 9 years. They are presenting a tribute to Rio de Janeiro, the
Cidade Maravilhosa. The rhythm of this city is a mixture of
beauty and chaos, a spectacular fantasy, where the poor parade as the rich
and the rich parade with the poor. The beach is their playground, samba is
their music, and carnaval is their party. The samba has its roots in the
Angolan or Congolese round dance. Rio's world famous Carnaval parade is
made up of the biggest and most spectacular samba schools, such as
Mangeira, Beija-Flor, Imperatriz, and Mocidade, whose participants are
overwhelmingly made up of working class and poor people from the city's
sprawling suburbs. In true Rio style, the costumes are flashy, shiny,
sequinned fabrics and feathers. They will dazzle you with bright and
flashy display of visuals and the live bateria.
In harmony with the theme of "Festival of the Drums",
Samba Para O Povo honors the synergy and mutual
the drummers and the dancers. Samba dancers say that they need the living
rhythm of live drummers to fully experience their movements. The drummers
are inspired by the beauty of the samba dancers in their midst. It is the
rhythm of their respective hearts, the synchronicity of the dancers' feet
and the musicians' hands on the skin of the drum which unites us with the
spirit of the ancient spirits of all humans. All of us, regardless of
color or ethnicity, are the children of Mother Africa. We dance and sing
to the rhythms she gave to us in the cradle of humanity.
Xiuhcoatl Danza Azteca, in the parade for
many years, is a style of Aztec dance called Splendor. Each dancer makes
his own costume by hand, using design color and style to honor a
particular deity. The drum, outlawed in Mexico for 400 years, is used to
assist dancers in their prayers to the creator. Danza Azteca honors the 4
cardinal directions, the ancestors, the seasons of the year, as well as
Josephine Morada is the enchantress who constantly amazes us with
her visually dazzling costume designs and choreography.
or her picture to read her bio.
Phil Wong, webmaster
Estrada formerly known as Escola Nova de
Samba still consideres itself the oldest contingent in the parade. The
leadership Josephine Morada and Rudy Ortiz are among the
most dedicated Carnalescos we know
Buena Vista Elementary School. "We put
the art in heart!" For their 16th year of participating in
SF Carnaval, Buena Vista kids will play, dance and sing with heart. The
theme is inspired by the sound of the heartbeat that is reproduced in drum
rhythms throughout the world. They pay homage to the African rhythmic
diaspora and how it has permeated musical styles of the Americas. Music is
important to Buena Vista school; the playful rhythms of the children's
lives, and the reality that they are the heartbeat of our community.
Everett Middle School, presents
"Afro-Latino roots and connections". This theme will represent the
past, present and future of the African and Latino cultures.
James Lick Middle School's theme is
“Alegria en Carnaval”, portraying different dance styles in the
Caribbean. There will be an interweaving of percussion tumbadoras, vocuses
and other drums.
Malcolm X Academy will be exploring the beauty,
rhythms and warmth of the Polynesian culture
From Southern California come 3 groups:
SuperSonic Samba School, a dynamite Samba group with excellent
dancers and the high quality Brazilian music that we have come to expect
from them. This is the fifth year for SuperSonic here in San Francisco.
They offer free dance and percussion classes in San Diego. ln keeping with
the theme this year, Fiesta de Tambores, they see the drum as the symbol
of the single voice of all humanity. A number of local San Francisco
participants now travel South to join SuperSonic at various carnavals
Grupo Cultural Bolivia Andina, Carnaval
afficionados who have traveled to Carnaval SF for fourteen years, are back
for more. This year they bring a modernized version of Saya, a dance that
comes from the Afro-Bolivano. The music has a special beat that causes the
movement of the hips. The costumes, direct from Bolivia, include bells and
a whip for the men, and colorful miniskirts for the women.
Also from Southern Cal, 3NI Production
brings a unique Asian/African mix; fan dancers from the far east
and west, in a graceful, elegant dance to appease royalty, with a touch of
Caribbean flavor added for fun. This band won Best Band of LA Carnival for
the last two years. What an honor to have them!