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Carnival King, Queen 2015: St George, Kanhai take crowns
Veteran masquerader Roland St George and 21-year-old rookie Stephanie Kanhai walked away from the Queen’s Park Savannah as Carnival King and Queen on Friday night. However, it was not easy, as both had to overcome potentially debilitating issues on the road to being crowned this year’s mas monarchs.
St George’s presentation Ahtwaje, a huge armoured fighting cock with a serpent near its talons, was a favourite in the preliminary stage, with the 69-year-old thrilling the crowd and judges with his seamless movements which made it appear that the two creatures were sparring without touching each other.
But St George has been plagued by issues with the mechanical elements of his costume and Friday was no different, as he was forced to cut short his performance when one of the impressive bird’s legs broke off. Speaking shortly after the awards ceremony, St George, who last won the competition in 2012, explained that his decision to exit the stage early was a tactic to avoid the judges noticing the issue which threatened to spoil his otherwise impressive performance.
St George was able to beat Ted Eustace’s Saramanga-D Wolf Bat by four points. Like George, Eustace was blighted in the semi-final stage when his costume toppled on its side—forcing him to make a quick recovery to qualify for the finals. Although there was no repeat of Tuesday night’s issue, which was caused by strong winds, Eustace was unable to display the energy required by the judges as he laboured to manoeuvre his costume across the stage.
While her costume was not the biggest or most elaborate, Kanhai—the only competitor to utilise stilts—captured the attention of the judges with her fluid and fearless dance moves.
Kanhai’s celebrations were almost overshadowed by an injury, as she fell and injured her leg as she was walking backstage after performing. Hours later, Kanhai, who had entered the competition only three times in the past, limped on stage to claim her crown. She was able to hold off her nearest competitor, Roxanne Omalo, whose grandiose portrayal The Phantom Queen—a warrior skeleton riding a menacing battle crow—entered the tournament as a strong contender.
A visibly shocked Kanhai admitted that she did not view herself as a forerunner at the beginning of the night. “It feels great. My intention was just to come and have fun and get the experience,” Kanhai said. Neither monarch was in a position to say what they would do with their $250,000 cash reward.
But when asked for his opinion on the smaller-scale costumes and fewer competitiors noted in this year’s competition, St George pointed to the National Carnival Band Association (NCBA)’s renumeration packages. “The NCBA President (David Lopez) would not agree with me, but I think the lack of incentives is what is making the costumes smaller and we are getting a kind of recycle system taking place. However, clearly, we have not run out of ideas,” St George said.
Friday’s competition saw last year’s monarchs Wade Madray and Peola Marchan being convincingly dethroned and left pondering their plans for next year. They placed ninth and fifth, respectively, from a shortlist of ten competitors in each category. The audience at the Savannah was noticeably smaller than in the preliminary stages, which has become the norm since the competition was moved from its traditional home, that is, the Dimanche Gras show on Carnival Sunday night.
Nonetheless, those present were still entertained by performances from several soca artists and were treated to a well-organised display of carnival design, craftsmanship and theatrics.
1. Ahtwaje - Roland St George -4 33
2. Saramanga-D Wolf Bat - Ted Eustace – 429
3. Death-Desolation Despair-Keeper of Souls - Fareid Carvalho - 413
4. Mr Slick - Patrick Roberts Jr - 403
5. Pan in D Mas- Clyde Bascombe – 402
6. Zatog-The Invincible - Fernando Marchan – 398
7. Wild Fire – Marlon Rampersad – 388
8. Andrus Warrior King and his Protector – Raymond Mark – 388
9. I Orgi Tou Posidona (The Wrath of Posidon) - Wade Madray - 384
10. The Emperor – Ravi Lakhan – 361
1. The Sweet Waters of Africa – Stephanie Kanhai – 411
2. The Phantom Queen – Roxanne Omalo – 396
3. Andromeda Mystical Queen – Jonell Dick – 393
4. Avi-Queen of the African Village – Alendra Bailey – 390
5. Charlotte’s Cameo – Peola Marchan – 388
6. Ocean Waves – Gloria Dallsingh- 386
7. Beauty and Freedom - Kay Mason- 381
8. Jewels of Atlantis – Savitri Holassie – 380
9. The Passion of Valentine – Charmaine Enile - 378
10. Masquerade-The Gathering – Tracell Frederick
Lue Sue wins fourth junior Queen crown...Justice Holdip’s son takes junior King title
The energy of youth upstaged the poise of experience in this year’s Junior Carnival Kings and Queens competition. While the highlight of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA)’s Big Friday event at the Queen’s Park Savannah was undoubtedly the senior competition, the 20 masqueraders vying for the junior crown clearly outshone the much more seasoned contenders with their electrifying dance moves and colourful portrayals.
By the end of the night, last year’s queen Cyan Lue Sue, of acclaimed mas designer Rosalind Gabriel’s band, managed to retain her crown and earn herself a fourth since she started competing. Her portrayal Scarlet Macaw-Treasure of Nariva won the applause of the audience as she masterfully fluttered her colourful tropical bird across the stage. Exuding the aura of a veteran champion, a smiling Lue Sue said she knew she was a strong contender since the start of the competition.
“It feels great,” Lue Sue said. Yannick Holdip won the Kings competition with his portrayal When You Say Africa...I Say Shaka—an elaborate tribal warrior-inspired costume covered in black and white feathers. The costume, easily the biggest in the competition, appeared heavy as, like all junior entrants, it did not employ the use of wheels. However, Holdip was able to tame it as he jumped and pranced across the stage.
In a brief interview at the end of the show, a confident Holdip, a Fatima College student, said he gained the competitive edge by thinking positively and having a winning spirit “I believe I portrayed the costume in the way it should be portrayed and I did everything I could do to win it,” said Holdip, who won his first title since beginning to compete in 2009. Holdip is the son of High Court Judge Malcolm Holdip, who was present to congratulate his son.
As well as a cash prize, both competitors received two airline tickets to any destination to which NCBA’s sponsor JetBlue flies.
Junior Carnival Kings
1. When You Say Africa...I Say Shaka - Yannick Holdip - 436
2. Phoenix – Ryan Sooknanan – 413
3. King of Jesters – Jardel Arguillera – 392
4. The Proud Peacock – Bradley Rambhorose – 390
5. God of The Hunt – Denzil Forde – 389
6. Afrikana –Tribal Art – Isaiah Fraser – 387
7. Nashashuk Ptaysanwee-Thundering Buffalo – Keegan Farrell
8. Payatamu – Fancy Bustle Dancer – Jaheim Joseph
9. I Remember the Chinese in Mas – Zayne Castanada
10. Alive and Well – Joshua Barrow
Junior Carnival Queens
1. Scarlet Macaw–Treasure of Nariva – Cyan Lue Sue – 436
2. A Brazilian Showcase – Natalia D’Abreau - 410
3. Of the Golden Bird –Nikkita Katwaroo – 406
4. Mumtaz Mahal – Vaughnecia Mieres – 398
5. When I say National Award...You Say Hummingbird Gold – Mia James – 397
6. Sumintra-The Bollywood Dreamer – Ianna Monique Roach – 388
7. Butterfly Fantasy – Mckenzie Penco – 384
8. Choviohoya –Young Deer – Raissa Farrel – 380
9. Tian Shang Daughter of the Jade Emperor – Tishana Roach – 377
10. Cosmic Aura The Energy of the Planets – Ivana Mohammed - 370