With just one more day to October 29, 2016 and the joyous, religious and spiritual observance of Divali, there is tremendous excitement and anticipation.
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Madray, Dallsingh in front for finals
The semifinal round of the Carnival Kings Competition was dominated by former monarchs, with three earning the top spots in the contest ahead of Fantastic Friday’s final. Veteran masquerader Wade Madray, who last won the competition in 2011, maintained his dominance from the preliminary round, topping the show on Tuesday night with 436 points.
Madray, an obvious crowd favourite, amazed mas enthusiasts at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, with his ability to dance gracefully while carrying the weight of costume, which featured an enormous scorpion, illuminated internally with eerie red lights. The costume, which took three months to build at the cost of $155,000, was designed by Madray and Hayden Joseph.
In an interview, before the show, Joseph said the inspiration for the presentation, was an ancient Egyptian legend of a pharaoh’s bodyguard, who was executed, being reincarnated as a scorpion to exact revenge on his former master. Following close behind Madray were siblings Curtis and Ted Eustace, whose deceased father Tedder, also won the competition three times.
Curtis, himself a nine-time Carnival King, improved on his dismal sixth place performance in last week’s preliminary round, scoring 430 points for a second place finish this time around. Curtis, in his costume Zanzikil, Lord of Chaos, a menacing crimson serpent which occupied almost the entire width of the stage, captivated the audience with its intricate design coupled with his realistic movements choreographed to his custom musical score.
His younger brother, Ted, who tied for first place in last year’s competition, maintained his third place standing from the preliminary round with the judges awarding him 426 points. His costume, Monkey Know What Tree to Climb, consists of two large primates climbing onto two oversized marijuana leaves, also featured customised accompanying music which included reggae legend Bob Marley’s hit Jammin.
Eustace’s other brother, Marcus, who designed the $140,000 costume, explained that all of the elements of the costume were constructed by local artists affiliated to their family’s mas production team. “People were asking if we imported the monkeys from China but everything is made here. Even the hats were made by a Rasta guy I know,” Marcus said, while putting the finishing touches on the costume before the show.
He said the inspiration of the costume, which received a round of applause from the audience before even crossing the stage, was veteran masquerader Geraldo Viera’s 1983 winning presentation Bachac Pushing Ganja. “I loved his (Viera) costume... so I thought we should not have to wait till a legend dies before paying tribute to him,” Marcus said.
By the end of Tuesday’s show, which was free of delays and technical difficulties which blighted last week’s initial round, half of the 20 competitors in each category were eliminated from competition. In the Queen’s competition, veteran masquerader and designer Gloria Dallsingh moved 12 spots into first place in the competition, with her presentation We Beat Pan Music, a red and gold costume which was embellished with dozens of miniature golden steel pans.
Her daughter-in-law Laura Rampersad, also a member of Ivan Kalicharan’s band Beats, placed fifth in the competition with her costume which featured another musical instruments synonymous with local culture, the African drum. In second place was another costume designed by Marcus Eustace, High Noon on the Comanchero Sacred Grounds, showcased by Raevon Atherton of the band Paparazzi.
At the centre of the costume, which was the largest in the Queens’ competition, was a gigantic silver skull with glowing eye sockets, wearing a colourful Native American headress. Denesha Jennings of Jennings and Associates, who started the night in tenth place, also improved on her position in Tuesday’s semifinal placing third with 404 points.
Tamika George’s presentation Refraction: A Phenomenon of Light, which was the forerunner in the preliminary round was the only disappointment in the semifinal show, albeit by no fault of her own. The Arima-native’s costume which dazzled in the previous round with its reflective coatings and neon lighting, seemed to be outshined by the lighting directed at the stage, which should have been be dimmed at times to allow the costume’s lighting effects to shine through.
George is the daughter of veteran Carnival Queen participant Patricia Bailey, who took a break from this year’s competition for the first in 31 years, to allow her daughter to represent the family’s band Bailey and Associates. “It’s time for the youths to take over,” Bailey said as she gave her daughter some last-minute advice before she crossed the stage. The final of the competitions as well as those of the Junior Carnival Kings and Queens will kick off at the same venue at 7 pm on Friday.