UWI Today March 2015 - page 19

The Old Yard 2015
Spontaneity seemed to be
the underlying theme in The Old
Yard 2015. The Department of Creative and Festival Art’s annual
showcase of traditional Carnival masquerade and heritage did
not disappoint and even caught many of its patrons by surprise
this year. New features of a roving musical group performing old
calypso melodies with Granny swaying and dancing by Granny’s
house was to the delightful surprise of TOY’s younger patrons. And
while many looked forward to the annual renditions of the tamboo
bamboo in “the middle of the yard,” their continued performance
by the backstage entrance thrilled patrons as they exited the venue
as TOY 2015 came to an exuberant close.
While performances filled the gayelle in quick succession,
sustaining the patrons’ interest, the craft stalls and food booths
offered and array local products and cuisine.
The student-centered band, Jouvay Ayiti, took its 2015 theme
from the Caricom-led demand for Reparations for Caribbean
people. The band title ‘ARANDARA PONAHARA: LAND OF
THE FIRST PEOPLES’ echoes this call in two First Nation
languages – the Wai Wai of Guyana and Garifuana of St. Vincent
and Central America – for justice, compensation and the return
of their ancestral lands. 
Students of the courses ‘Critical Readings in Caribbean Arts
and Culture’ and ‘Costume Fabrication’ undertook assignments
based on this theme of reparations.They researched and presented
on 7 pre-Columbian civilizations in the region: Ciboney, Taino,
Maya, Warao, Wai Wai, Kalinago, Lokono and the post-Columbian
Workshops were conducted in mas-making and palm-
weaving techniques to help students realize their ideas for this mas.
Each costume presented therefore was built by its performer with
some guidance from tutors and support from the group. These
workshops were coordinated by Mr. Lari Richardson and tutored
bymaster-crafts-persons – Kendall de Peaza (wire-bending) Cristo
Adonis (weaving), Turunesh Raymond (found materials) and
Martin Soverall (cardboard sculpting).    
Using the ‘areito’, the communal dance of Taino peoples,
lecturer and Dance Unit Coordinator and Dr. Jorge Morejon
choreographed the performance in which students depicted
various aspects of the beliefs, customs, myths and history of
their Caribbean ancestors. Assisted by calypsonian and Warao
descendant Mighty Composer (Fred Mitchell), they wove a
traditional Warao chant into their masquerade performance.
Students presented their work inThe Old Yard and at Jouvay
celebrations in Port of Spain, accompanied by Curepe Scherzando
Steelband with other members of the public joining the band. 
Subsequent episodes of the Arandara Ponahara narrative will
be presented at the Emancipation First Peoples Heritage Festivals
later this year.
When asked about the purpose of The Old Yard, Project
Director Dr. Jo-anne Tull said that the idea behind the project is to
present traditional masquerade forms both performance, costume,
character to audiences in an engaging family oriented event that
would evoke feelings of nostalgia, happiness, excitement, and a
continued love for the carnival traditions.
Photos: Aneel Karim
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