Department of Culture stimulates Sugar Mas
St. Kitts, December 15, 2010 (SKNIS): The Department of Culture is now in Sugar Mas mode with preparations in full swing for the staging of this year’s edition of Folklore Avenue among other activities.
Folklore Avenue takes place from December 23 to 29 on the upper section of Fort Street and on Port Zante. Department of Culture Dance Specialist Lorna “Ava” Henry told the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service that the Traffic Department of the St. Christopher Police Force authorized cultural performers to use the section above Central Street on Fort Street and the area close to the main hall of Port Zante for that particular event. She revealed that 13 cultural groups have expressed interest in performing and these include Masquerades such as Valon Masquerade Troupe, Jason Stinging Ants Clown Troupe, Bull Troupes including Mansion Bull, the St. Peter’s Actors and Mocko Jumbies.
Notably, the leader of the mentioned Masquerade Troupe, Joseph Valentine “Valon” Francis has been chosen to be this year’s National Carnival/Sugar Mas Grand Marshall. Ms. Henry revealed that Valon was chosen from a field of two other cultural performers.
A Department of Culture press release states that Valon began dancing masquerade at age 12 under Rupert Samuel another renowned masquerader. After 10 years he formed his own group and 36 years later it is still performing.
Over the years Valon’s masquerade craft has taken him to several CARIFESTAs and Festivals in countries such as Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago and Martinque. He has made an indelible mark on the cultural artform having trained many masquerades who later formed troupes of their own both locally and abroad. It is also a family tradition because he has ensured that all his children become members of his troupe.
In terms of continuity, the Department of Culture, through its Director, Creighton Pencheon is ensuring that the calypso artform gains the interest of the youth. As customary, Mr. Pencheon is assisting the Junior Calypsonians who will be performing in this year’s Contec DT Talented Teen Pageant and Junior Calypso Show on Monday, December 27.
The Director of Culture explained that for the past six weeks he has been coaching the young calypsonians in techniques including delivery, rhythm, timing, remaining on key as well as the structure of the songs including lyrics and music. The preparation includes band practice and extends to recording. He emphasized that this work is a labour of love and a personal determination on his part to ensure that the youth create and perform calypsos. Very passionately, Mr. Pencheon declared that “calypso is under threat” from many distracting forces and he considers it of utmost importance to personally pass on the artform for posterity.
The Department of Culture facilitated a successful staging of In the Spirit of Christmas last week.