Creating the iconic outfits for the annual Caribana parade requires a full year of planning and construction, not to mention a whole lot of heavy lifting—the outfits can weigh up to 800 pounds. Bandleader Narissa Ali takes us behind the scenes.
Blues Carnival Fusion is one of the many mas bands that will be dancing in Thursday’s King and Queen competition and prancing down Lakeshore Boulevard in Saturday’s Caribana parade during this weekend’s Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival. Creating the iconic outfits for the annual event requires a full year of planning and construction, not to mention a whole lot of heavy lifting—the outfits can weigh up to 800 pounds. Bandleader Narissa Ali takes us behind the scenes.
1. A Costume For The King
“That particular costume is called Devastation of Mankind,” says bandleader Narissa Ali. “That’s the king’s costume. The frame is constructed out of steel, which has to be welded. Then the various attachments go on using an aluminum rod. After everything’s completely mounted, it’s 46 feet wide and 30 feet in the air. We came up with the drawings for that in August of last year. The [construction] started when we opened up the mas camp (where we build the costumes) in mid-May and it’s almost done now.”
2. How It Rolls
“Everything’s on wheels and has mechanics. We make it as light as possible for the performers to pull. It becomes easier to maneuver because it’s on four wheels. That whole thing on wheels is considered the float.”
3. Dedicated Crew
“There’s usually a solid core working on a costume like the King’s. We also have volunteers come in to help, but the core group is about 10 people.”
4. Size Matters
“That’s also part of the King costume. Basically, they’re going to be decorated with all different kinds of flames, larger sequins, various braids, stuff like that. The decorations take about two to three weeks. What takes the most time is the actual structural part, which took about a month to make. I would say it’s going to be close to 800 pounds because you’re playing with aerodynamics when you’re going so high and so wide, so that adds resistance.”
5. Leg Strength Recommended
“The majority of the performers usually work out throughout the year. Pretty much everyone doing the big floats has been in the gym every day. A lot of the strength of a performance comes from your thighs, so a lot of them do leg presses and squats and that kind of stuff.”
6. Endurance Performers
“[Dancing in a mas band is] just like a theatrical performance where you must become that character; you become the costume. [The most important part of a performance is] the coordination of music and allowing the costume to move to best display it. You must make sure the performer looks as one, as part of the costume, instead of standing out as an entirely different entity.”
The King and Queen competiton takes place Aug. 2 at Alan Lamport Stadium at 9 p.m.