A barbaric act!
That’s how the uncle of four-year-old Jenice Ruth Figaro described the child’s death yesterday, declaring that no stone will be left unturned until they get justice.
The Young Upwardly Mobile Adults aka Yuma celebrates its fifth birthday as a Carnival band.
From Zodiac, to Press Play, to Imagine, to Cirque and next year’s Reign, the band experience goes beyond 3,000 masqueraders dancing along the streets of Port-of-Spain. For this mixed committee of 70, ranging from neophytes at 18 to university students to the experienced in their 20s and 30s and the elders who provide an anchor, Yuma has created a family unit in and out of costume.
The formula for a happy band, they say, is with the masqueraders. “Everything the band goes through, we go through,” said Acacia de Verteuil, committee member.
“This year we had the perfect costumes, no costume envy. We had things on point. Next year, we want to duplicate the experience.”
Tomorrow, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Yuma will introduce Reign, which presents 13 sections that portray different aspects of historical rule across the globe.
“It encompasses the royal theme—empires, kingdoms. We touched a lot of countries. However, it is not necessarily a king or queen but a piece of a dynasty. We did a lot of research,” said de Verteuil.
The theme may be similar to portrayals presented in the days of stalwart bandleaders like George Bailey who presented the fantasy in historical themes.
But as fellow committee member Chase De Souza points out, the band captured this historical theme with a modern twist, adapting to the tastes of the present-day masquerader.
“We want to be relatable to the theme, to have that old vibe, yet provide a balance. We want to have a holistic impression of the theme,” said De Souza.
Among the designers is Crystal Aming, the daughter of mas legend Neville Aming. She has been designing with the band since year one. There are also university students who have become burgeoning designers. Masqueraders David Dewer and Justin Scott, who made their debut as designers last year, have an input in the creation of the elaborate headpieces and detailed body jewels.
Nevertheless, in creating the costumes there is an interchange and exchange of support through suggestions in colour matching, material, placement of pieces, overall costume development.
“We took a page from (Wayne) Berkeley by encouraging all our designers to grow. We have a bar to meet. Everybody helps each other,” said De Souza.
“The point of the costume is telling a story,” de Verteuil said. “It helps us to remain relevant and trendy plus the vibes we are known for—filled with so much spirit and youth, so much energy.”
With an ongoing public discussion over the trend in costume designs, the Yuma team believes the “less is better” concept depends on the masquerader. While acknowledging that in this age sex sells, the band must consider how it wants to be viewed.
“We like to keep it very tasteful,” de Verteuil said.
After five years, the main lesson these young bandleaders have learned is not to get too caught up in the business side that the culture of mas is forgotten.
“It is also about looking at evolving creativity and we get to see what people like, something trendy…because we still love the culture,” De Souza said.
The band’s other birthday wish is to overcome the challenge of road logistics. While the discussion of the operations continues at the level of the overarching National Carnival Commission, the band still has to prepare a road map that would provide a sense of direction for the masqueraders.
They understand the NCC’s task is no easy one, as it tries to manage as many as 80 bands crossing the Queen’s Park Savannah stage on both Carnival Monday and Tuesday or finding a solution to the gridlock that occurs on Charlotte Street causing some bands to wait for hours before making the ritual appearance in front of the Grand Stand.
“We try to make everybody happy but you can never please everyone. You would always find that out some did not like waiting at the Savannah, and there are some who wanted to have that stage experience. We try to get feedback from every age group, we don’t want to leave anyone behind,” said De Souza.
But as the new year bends the corner, plans are already in place to improve the road experience as a new feature will be added. “We look forward to improving the masquerader’s experience,” de Verteuil said, without revealing the surprise.