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What's it Like to be a Part of the Nottingham Carnival Parade?

21 August 18 words: Golesedi Maguire

Rain was never going to reign on 2018’s Nottingham Carnival parade; the extraordinary effort and hours that went into rehearsals, costumes and excitement, were to be displayed in glorious fashion, without fail...

photo: Nigel King

Me: What happens if it rains during Carnival?
ABC Dance School Troupe Choreographer and Designer: We get wet.

I had the privilege of experiencing Nottingham Carnival from the perspective of a performer with ABC Dance School’s Brazilian Afro Futurism troupe, which was accompanied by the rhythmic drumming of Nottingham School of Samba.

As well as our Brazilian contribution, I was in awe of the vibrant inclusivity represented by all the troupes. Ranging from a celebratory Windrush troupe – Zodiac Allstars, costumed in Jamaican, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Bahamas flag colours – to Inspire Urself, an Aztec masquerade troupe with over forty red, black and gold unique costumes, led by Lewis Hunter; the East Midlands and Nottingham Carnival King. And twixt all that was Nottingham African Community troupe, themed African Pride, and accessorised in large, distinctly Nigerian coral jewellery.

Parading along Victoria Embankment and Meadows streets was truly affirming as appreciative crowds lined the path, encouraging the troupes’ high energy. Whiffs of jerk chicken BBQ wafting throughout the route, from the Carnival grounds, crowned the mise-en-scène.

The parade’s return to Carnival grounds signaled stage performances. My favourite performers were Ancestors Troupe for their alternative historical and cultural offering, and ABC Dance School for grand execution and aesthetic splendour.

I had the pleasure of chatting to Ancestors Troupe leader, Jerry Carey, which was merely a moment of allowing myself to get lost in the musicality of his St Kitts accent. What I did gather was that this traditional Caribbean carnival masquerade celebration of ancestors has Ancient Egypt origins, showcased by Kemet symbols and hieroglyphics in the costumes of the six-man spectacle.

Honoured with having this year’s Nottingham Carnival Queen, our Brazilian Afro Futurism troupe took to the stage first with a samba and Maracatu ensemble. Maracatu, recorded from 1674, was embodied in my sumptuous purple satin, floor-length bouffant skirt, with its bejewelled floral embellishments, reflecting the antiquated regal display of Recife, Brazil’s roots, where black African slaves preserve African culture and heritage in king and queen carnival masquerades.

Much to Tatiana Woolley’s (ABC Dance School troupe Choreographer and Designer) credit, her super suave showgirls dominated the carnival awards, winning three out of four categories: Best Troupe, for originality, visual impact and choreography; Best Carnival Art, for interpretation of theme and dynamism; and Best Stage Performance, for stage presence energy, crowd reaction, and synergy of choreography with costumes and theme.

Aptly expressed by Richard Renwick, Chair of Nottingham Carnival: “Our Carnival is an artistic triumph for Nottingham. We have some wonderful locally based carnival artists and choreographers who use the parade to display their beautiful costumes and dance routines.” This visual extravaganza most definitely platformed Nottingham’s bold and colourful carnival culture.

Nottingham Carnival took place at Victoria Embankment on Sunday 12 August 2018

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