|Contingents San Francisco Carnaval 2006|
by Jan McDermott
|To quote the
words of Portsha
Jefferson, the director of Rara Tou Limen, " Each
parade contingent is an artistic Carnaval street theater performance
with it's own theme, cast of dancers/musicians and paraders,
choreography, costumes, sets, props, float and sound system. A parade
contingent creates a new theme for each annual Carnaval. To express this
theme, a parade contingent builds a new float, choreographs new dances,
writes and performs new music, designs, and creates new costumes, and
is available on the internet; lots of the contingents will be doing shows at the 2 day festival as well. Look for the festival entertainment schedule on carnavalSF.com
One thing is worth mentioning: the contingents work very hard, and do a tremendous amount of good work, with very little support. Contingents like Sistas-wit-Style, Mo' Love, Mas Makers, and Loco Bloco are working directly with today's kids; they are shaping tomorrow's world. Not everybody can join Carnaval in the street, but each and every one of us can support a contingent that is making positive changes. You can give money, or expertise, or whatever you think might help.
Other contingents are active all year, performing at venues all over the city and beyond. Go to a performance, and return the love they will be giving you at the parade. Read on and you'll see what I mean.
2006 is a year of changes. Some of the older, venerable contingents are not appearing: Islands of Fire, Brazil Culture and Arts, Samba do Coracao, All Ah We, Dance Kaiso, Malcolm X Academy Polynesian, Spirit of Polynesia, and Pistahan Filipino, to name a few.
There are some very interesting combinations, too.
Maisa was born in the Americas' capital of the African
Diaspora, Salvador, Bahia Brazil. While most people are familiar with
the Rio style of Samba, Maisa demonstrates a more playful and joyful
samba, without the lyrics found in Rio that tend to be serious social
commentary. As far as she can remember, dancing is what she enjoyed
most. Maisa started entering and winning dance contests when she was ten
years old. Her ability to move her perfectly toned body to the complex,
frenetic polyrhythmic beating of samba music is wonderful to see.The
name Energia do Samba (The Energy of Samba) was chosen by Maisa because
it is the positive energy of Samba, that she believes is the essence of
Samba. Energia do Samba's dancing is the embodiment of that energy.
Energia do Samba's goal is to promote and share Brazilian culture and
carnaval through music, dance and colorful costumes. The dance ensemble
consists of 6 experienced dancers as well as live musicians. They have
performed at a variety of different venues, and bring explosive energy
to the dance floor. Come and experience the spirit of Brazil and enjoy
life with Maisa! She also teaches samba in San Francisco.
Oya Nike is joining with the famous group that leads the Pride Parade: Dykes on Bikes, who have been in existence since 1976. It's an honor to have such a group with us for the first time! Ruben is also including a 25 piece brass band, and children from a school. And knowing Ruben, there is probably another surprise or two, up his sleeve. http://dykesonbikes.org/
the 2006 Carnaval Parade
Some contingents are making their appearance for the first time.
Among them is Maracatu Nação Casa Real Cazadero, organized by Beto Guimarães, and Derek Wright. Derek is the director of Bateria Lucha (an Oakland-based Brazilian percussion ensemble) Beto is one of the principal dancers of Ginga Brazil, originally from Olinda (one of the cultural capitals of Pernambuco). He is also an afro-brazilian dance instructor and key member of the dance faculty at the California Brazil Camp. They are presenting the music and dance of Maracatu. This extremely funky and joyous rhythm has been used for hundreds of years during Carnaval in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco to mock the colonial royal court, to honor the Orixas, and to celebrate emancipation. The dance movements enact the coronation of the King of Congo, to respect the African heritage of the inhabitants of Pernambuco. However, the coronation is done in a style mocking the pomp and self-importance of the Portuguese royal court. Additionally, the dance is used to honor the Orixas, drawing from elements of Candomble dance and other Afro-Brazilian dance forms related to the Orixas. Finally, the dance movements represent the waves of the ocean. Waves are very important symbols in maracatu, both in the dance and in the song lyrics. Olinda and Recife are both coastal cities, and the Africans who were enslaved and brought to Pernambuco spent months aboard slave ships, being subjected to the transatlantic voyage against their will. (The tradition goes back to the 17th century, according to www.recifeguide.com/culture/maracatu) "We'll also be performing all spring to spread interest in Maracatu and other rhythms from Pernambuco and Brazil such as Afoxé (also known as Ijexá)." www.maracatucazadero.org
the 2006 Carnaval ParadeMission Housing Development Corporation
has been in Carnaval twice before, but not since the early 80's. Welcome
Mas Makers Massive, one of the original
Carnaval contingents, is directed by Stephen Tiffenson, who gives
110% to his contingent. He works hand in hand with the project director,
Colleen Tiffenson. Stephen keeps it authentic, so that the
community can experience
the rich culture of Trinidad and Tobago. He
points out that Carnival is an all-year endeavor. A theme must be chosen
after careful research; costumes designed and built, float designed and
built, budget calculated, music organized; all this takes time and
skill. Everyone has to come together, and at Mas Makers, everyone does.
One of the things I admire the most, is the degree of commitment to the
youth of Oakland. Through various schools, they nurture their cultural
needs, and keep the carnival legacy alive. Their efforts have been
important to huge numbers of individual children over the years. As a
matter of fact Sistas-wit-Style, started here.
Mo' Love of Steelband Oakland is committed to building self
esteem through music, dance and art; developing and enriching Oakland's
youth. La Mantia, the director, is someone who walks the walk.
This year, she says, "Shaka Zulu, native New Orleans STILTWALKER
will be joinin' us in da' road! 12' tall!" Wilfred Mark, director of
Dance Kaiso, will also be joining this year.
SambAsia is the only samba school of its kind
integrating Brazilian Samba and Japanese Taiko percussion with Japanese
Folk and Modern Dance. This year, they are adding Samba Bahia carnaval
music and dance, and Korean Pung'mul, whose drummers dance while they
play. They have been top prize winners in the 3 years of participation
in Carnaval San Francisco's Grand Parade.
generational lines. Escola de
SambAsia is modeled after the samba school community ensembles of Rio de
Janeiro. The escolas are the centerpiece of the neighborhood community
and serve as the hub of social activity representing strong neighborhood
pride, support and commitment in the face of economic and
Jaime Martinez' Latin American Workout is going to
showcase The City By The Bay with the skyline of SF. There will be
people dancing in beautiful gold, red and white costumes. Jaime is one
of our cherished Kings of Carnaval, and he appreciates the artistry of
Carnaval. When he envisions something, he wants to make it exactly the
way he sees it, to achieve his dream. He's a perfectionist. It gives him
motivation; he creates. He expresses an idea and puts it together. It's
good to spend energy on that. He pioneered the concept of exercising to
Latin rhythms. He is the owner of Latin American Workout, and is
celebrating its 16th year. If you want a good, fun workout, to
absolutely "off the hook" music, join his classes. Besides LAW, he
teaches Salsa and Merengue at Mission Cultural Center.
Fogo Na Roupa has been a major Carnaval Grand Prize Winner
and has received awards in numerous parades over the past 17 years,
including San Francisco's Chinese New Year and Cinco de Mayo Parades.
Fogo Na Roupa means "Clothes On Fire", and it is symbolic of the hot
energy generated by the innovative rhythms and infectious dance moves.
Fogo Na Roupa strives to combine the photos/10pics/giant92.jpg
community's raw spirit with the technical expertise of its Founder and
Artistic Director, Carlos Aceituno. As Artistic Director, Carlos
shares with the group his substantial experience in the areas of music,
dance and performance, including Latin, Afro-Brazilian, Jazz, Modern,
and African. He also teaches Capoeira, and includes this art in many of
Fogo's shows. Last year, when I congratulated him on winning the
Carnaval San Francisco Grand Prize, I asked him about it. He said that
although he is the director, he's learned to let go and allow other
people to display their own talents in their own ways. What he does is
put it all together and make it greater than the sum of its parts.
That's part of his brilliance.
There will be a group representing the California Soccer Association North, which is "the administrative body overseeing all affiliated adult soccer leagues in Northern California, affiliated to USASA, USSF, and FIFA. CSA-N was established in 1902 and has served the adult soccer community continuously since then, through both world wars and through both "police actions". CSA-N has approximately 18,000 members. We provide the adult soccer community with team and player registration, coaching instruction and instruction of referees." They will be joined by Mission High School. www.california-soccer-assn-north.net
Super Sonic Samba School The Super Sonic Samba School was
founded in San Diego, California in 1990. The group plays traditional
Samba rhythms of Brazil, featuring live percussionists and dancers. The
Super Sonic Samba School performs a range of styles: from the Rio de
Janeiro carnaval marching drums of Samba Enredo, to the jamming Samba
Reggae of and the northeast. They have joined us here in San Francisco
for many years.
Now, through the miracle of modern technology,
you too can enjoy the samba, and still have food in your pantry the next
3NI Productions, based on the Trinidad and Tobago
Carnival, was formed in 2001 to enhance LA Carnival. Each year, they
produce new costumes with a King and Queen (large pieces), and this
year, they will join us for the third time, bringing dozens of Caribbean
dancers. The theme is "in Olden Days of Magic," and the Queen will wear
white, symbol of Benevolent magic, while the King will symbolize black
magic. The costumes are in the style of the olden days. Music is
The African Outlet, located at 524 Octavia, celebrates the 9th
year of participation in Carnaval SF. The store has a wonderful and
authentic collection of African items and ambience. They will be playing
lively West African recorded music, and also have a contingent of
drummers, Igba Muo, and children dancers, Bama-ya Kongo.
Children from Kipp Bayview Charter Academy will also be
joining African Outlet. Leading the contingent are the Ancestors, making
the connection between the spiritual world and the present time. Anyone
who has seen these entities will realize that they are much more than
just a person wearing a costume. They are unforgettable spirits, and for
me personally, one of the high points of the parade.
Asociacion Mayab organized their first contingent of Yucatec Maya in 2005 with El Tecolote. The community was so excited to participate, that planning began for a solo contingent, this time with a float, traditional music and dance. The float is a replica of the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Yucatan. The children, wearing traditional Mayan dress, will be dancing the Jarana. This dance has roots in Spanish, Maya, Cuban, and Colombian music and illustrates the fusion of old and new world culture. Their theme is "Remembering our Past and Living our Present".
Association of Colombian Americans--ACOAM, is ready to salute and show proudly their heritage and African roots, as seen through rhythm, dance and joyfulness. The Carnaval in Colombia dates back nearly 400 years, and became an official event some 150 years ago, according to an article in the Boston Globe. When you see this contingent, you will feel the magnitude of these years of history.
Aluna (www.alunaband.com ) is playing live music: cumbia, garabato, porro and vallenato. This will be the 4th year for ACOAM in our Carnaval, and they not only have become an important presence in the King & Queen Contest (held annually in April), but also, the spontaneous outburst of beautiful music that occurred at the 2005 K&Q will always be remembered. True carnaval spirit!
The Colombians are doing something really fun with their float! It represents that archetype of transport in latin america [and probably the rest of the third world], the bus retired from duty elsewhere [probably as a school bus in the U.S.], now transporting people, livestock, farm goods, etc. in rural areas. The Colombianos call it a "Chiva"
ACOAM is aware of the diversity of cultures in Colombia, and strives for the unity and integration of the Colombian community. acoam.org
Aquarela Brazilian Dance Ensemble has as its theme:
"Era Uma Vez....", combining imagination and storytelling with
passion and excitement. They plan to bring legendary characters to life
with the rich traditions of Brazilian samba music and dance.
music was called "Marcha". It had lots of instruments like flute,
saxaphone, and trombone. Nowadays her favorite part of Carnaval isn't
just the parade. It's getting ready. Thinking about the costume design,
concentrating, getting excited. Rehearsals. Waiting for the parade to
start. Then, dancing for the whole thing! Even with the inevitable
problems, it's as though nothing happened; only fun. So enjoyable, but
over too soon.
Baby Buggy Brigade was created by two Carnaval veterans that did not want to give up Carnaval after they started their families. Artistic Director Milanda Moore (a Carnaval Queen) and Designer Nancy Sabin-Hinds continue the tradition with their children. They started in 2002, and want people to know that Carnaval is a family tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. The group will be joining Grand Marshall Dora the Explorer this year.
Ginga Brazil, BrasArte, Conceição Damasceno's contingent, has been a participant for many years. Brasarte is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the traditional dance and music of Brazil and to developing opportunities for cultural exchange between dancers and musicians of all ages from Brazil and theUnited States. Conceição is a professional dancer, teacher and choreographer, and the founder and president. Over the years she has been instrumental in bringing top talent to the Bay Area. Classes are taught at World Dance Center in Berkeley.
MaraReggae is an award-winning contingent going
on its 11th year.
The theme is this: "Each one of us is born into this world with a divine
mission. The soul is the inner fire that gives us warmth both to our
worlds and to our hearts. It is a creative power, a passion and a
guiding force. Our presentation honors the 'Sacred Fire' in all of us
and the passions and dreams of our childhood." The band MaraReggae has
created a universal style of World music, where everyone, young and old,
inspired to dance and express themselves.
Banda Remelexo was started in 2004 by
Julio Remelexo. Originally from Salvador, Brazil; his mother was a
singer of the group, Ile Aiye. By the time he was 17, he
was a percussionist with Banda Aiye, and in the ensuing years, toured
Brazil, Europe and the United States with them. Invited to the US on a
cultural exchange by Brasarte, Julio taught workshops, and subsequently
created a new band of women playing percussion, Grupo Remelexo. With
this group, Julio Remelexo is presenting the heart of the afro-based
groups of Brazil to us. He is the singer, percussionist, composer, and
director. The music, Brazilian traditional and popular, is about the
state of the world today and the hope for peace.
Rara Tou Limen, named after Rara, a musical band on foot, a moving community festival and celebration of Haitian pride; Limen - [lee-may] means light, bright, to shine; under the direction of Portsha Jefferson, is a Karnaval group proudly entering its second year of representing Haiti in San Francisco's Carnaval festivities. "In the Spirit of our Ancestors" Rebirth, Rebuild, Reconnect.
This year we are dedicating our piece to the Hurricane
Katrina victims in New Orleans by having a Mardi Gras style presentation
with a Haitian twist, by also honoring Gede. The Gede family, spiritual
entities of life and death in the Haitian Vodun tradition, play a vital
role in the life of the people and also represent a crucial link to the
ancestors. The colors are black, purple, and white or silver. The
orchestra consists of goat skin drums, bamboo tubes, metal horns, bells,
whistles, conch shells, and tcha-tchas, accompanied by festive songs
paying tribute to Gede and all of our ancestral spirits.
Quimbanda Grupo Carnavalesco was founded in 2002 by Master Percussionist and Brazilian native, Gamo Da Paz. As the Director of Quimbanda, Gamo created the first all-women Brazilian Drumming Ensemble or Bateria, which now includes men as well. Their music is incredible! This year, Quimbanda will pay homage to Obatala/ Oshala, the king of all Orishas, whose followers are considered his children. Because this year's Carnaval theme refers to children, Quimbanda finds it fitting to incorporate many children in its group of paraders as representations of followers of Obatala. Costumes and float will be white and silver, representing purity, cleanliness and peace. www.gamodapaz.com
Hot Pink Feathers & Blue Bone Express is
a combination performing group with brass band. In February of 2005, Hot
Pink Feathers, which does samba, cabaret, and burlesque, combined with
Blue Bone Express, a Brass Band directed by Jara Queeto, that
plays New Orleans style music, to appear in Carnaval San Francisco. "We
bring a different esthetic; New Orleans Jazz, Samba and Cabaret
together. For instance, one of the choreographies this year is a New
Orleans jazz band rendition of a Venezuelan folk song, in an Eastern
European gypsy band arrangement. We are a band of Carnaval Pirates and
Gypsies who have gathered together as we have traveled the globe on land
and the high seas." Their inspiration is from folk dances from all the
countries, especially Latin America. Kelly (Kellita) Garton, the
Artistic Director has appeared in Carnaval San Francisco with various
samba groups, and the very first time she experienced it, in 1997, she
was hooked. "I live for this!" she says. The street filled with people
parading, dancing and marching joyfully! Color, exuberance: all this
counteracts the images of doom and violence that people today face, day
in and day out. It can be life-changing.
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts presents "the dream of the jaguar", and in keeping with the overall theme, "Land of Childhood Dreams", they are "evoking a time of the American continents'
childhood, before the exploitation of its inhabitants, both sentient and insentient. Before the advent of cartoon superheros, children had their native heros whom they admired for the same traits as represented by the jaguar: beauty, power, intelligence, mystery, and royalty. 'We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children'." They will be dancing a dance from the Yucatan., and the children will be dancing the "jaguar hip hop". www.missionculturalcenter.org
Grupo Aztlan de SF, formed in 1973, consists of three divisions: children, adults, and performing group. This year, they are representing Yucatan Carnaval, which is a fusion of Mayan, European, and Afro-Cuban. They will have authentic costumes and choreography. Their mission is "to expand our knowledge in Mexican culture through song and dance, and to present a diversity of dance styles, costumes and music from an extensive repertoire of traditional Mexican dances. They have participated in Carnaval celebrations for many years.
Monroe Elementary School, presenting Chinese and Mexican folk dances, has received first place in Children's division, unseating the long-standing champion Buena Vista School. Run by Karina Vela, she says that cultural dance is large part of the school culture.
"My favorite thing about Carnaval is the image of clothing and ribbons all moving at the same time. Crowds cheering, students expressing themselves, representing their school and feeling completely supported. The students work hard: learn steps, learn to smile, to bring joy to all those people. After the effort of practicing, being focused, they appear beautiful and appreciated. This year, I will be teaching the kids to do more dancing. Elementary School children are such a pleasure to work with. They have no inhibitions; They yell! They dance full out! in the future, I would like to see more kids dancing cultural dances of all ethnicities. I would like to contribute. It's such an opportunity for them to express themselves, and learn about their own and others' cultures. As a teacher, I encounter controversy. There are parents who are not comfortable with the lack of clothes in San Francisco's Carnaval. To me, that's a learning opportunity. Children will be exposed to lots of things. Partial nudity can be looked at as being free, dancing. Even when I take off my shoes in class to dance barefoot, the students stare at my feet. When they take off their own shoes, they feel naked and vulnerable. The floor is cold to them. Carnaval is lots of work, but it validates something that I have loved for so long, and believed in so strongly. The elements behind cultural dance say what that culture is about without really saying it. It gives voice without using the mouth. My family, who watched me studying dance for years (you want to get a degree in WHAT??) now see tangible results. What I spend my time doing now, is the end product of long studies. They get the big picture of who I am and what I am." The children participate in every way: they get the costumes ready, make decorations, and they learn that you have to work to get what you want.
Buena Vista Elementary Scholl is the oldest
contingent in Carnaval
James Lick Middle School's theme is "El Fuego por Dentro", the
fire within; the driving force that guides us to achieve our dreams.
Dressed in fire colors, the children will be dancing to Caribbean
rhythms. This will be their 5th year, and feel that it is a wonderful
opportunity for the students to appreciate life through the arts- not
just visually but dance and music as well.
Another learning institution in Carnaval is City College of SF, African Drumming Ensemble. The musical director is S. Kwaku Daddy, director of the CCSF Drumming Ensemble for 25 years. A celebrated performer, artist and teacher, Kwaku was born and raised in Ghana. www.skwaku.com
Nueva Middle School Mas and Steel Band, a first timer in Carnaval. The kids will be playing and dancing in costumes they designed and made themselves.
The Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble of San Francisco is a youth
performance group whose ages are between 12-17, directed by musician/
composer/ arranger John Calloway. Founded by John Calloway, Arturo Riera
and Sylvia Ramirez, this is a self-sustaining performance group whose
mission is to motivate young people to play Latin Jazz and to act as
role models for young musicians. The group has performed at Masonic
Auditorium, Oakland's Day of the Dead Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival,
Lafayette Jazz Festival, and San Francisco Carnaval. It was chosen as
one of the top youth performance groups in Northern California in the
2004 Youthquake competition. The Ensemble was an audience favorite when
they performed for the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival in 2004. ljye.com
Return to www.carnaval.com/sf06
Click through to learn more about this
newest 2006 Carnaval event.
Also find most of the San Francisco Bay Area & Northern California Carnaval Community Events listed in the top level of the image server here