Welcome to Guyana Masquerade
We, the members of the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc., a compliant 501(c) (3), not-for-profit organization welcome you to Guyana Masquerade. This site is an outcome of MASQUERADE JAMBOREE/Festival of Guyana Masquerade held in Georgetown, Guyana, December 19 to 28, 2016.
MASQUERADE JAMBOREE/Festival of Guyana Masquerade
MASQUERADE JAMBOREE/Festival of Guyana Masquerade was a project of the ongoing masquerade revitalization initiative launched in 2012 at the Masquerade Lives! symposium in Georgetown. The symposium was organized by a partnership of the Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc. and Guyana’s Ministry of Education, Department of Culture, Youth, and Sport.
Masquerade Lives! (2012)
GCA’s 10th annual symposium was held in Guyana in December 2012. The focus was on a distinctive Guyanese folk art form—Masquerade. This decision was influenced by Margaret Lawrence’s 2011 short film Tradition which focused a young man’s desire to dance masquerade despite family and societal objections.
The 5-day event was held in December (Guyana’s Masquerade season) and was intended to raise awareness about the precarious state of an essential Guyanese folk art. The mission of the 10th annual symposium was to collaborate with Guyana’s Ministry of Culture and other Guyanese institutions to create a space for public education, the examination of the deep heritage associated with Guyana’s masquerade traditions, especially its origins, history, international connections, and aesthetic dimensions–(costume, dance, music, craft, and performance).
The 2012 symposium featured an international conference, the unveiling of public art projects, premiering of music inspired by the masquerade heritage, a film and video festival, and an innovation—The Flounce Off. The international conference was held at the Umana Yana. The Masquerade mural was unveiled in the compound of the National Museum, Water Street. The inaugural Flounce Off took place at the Community Center Ground, Victoria Village, East Coast Demerara.
Among the “findings” of the 2012 symposium were the following:
- There were no active masquerade bands in Berbice.
- Pervasive concerns about the quality of design and manufacture of costumes
- Concerns about the state of masquerade music. Among the problems were the shortage of goat skins for drums and the rapidly declining number of flute men. In 2008, only two were identified—Rudolph “Puttagee” Vivieros and Jerome “Three Foot” Cumberbatch.
- Boysie Sage’s protégée, Julio Thijs had developed a new generation of stilts—the Boysie Sage Mark 7 stilts. Along with this innovation, Julio Thijs expressed his commitment to taking stilt dancing and stilt technology to “another level.”
- Cultural exchange. Contemporary masquerade practice suggested that interethnic interactions and exchange were in progress. This dynamic was evident in music, costumes, dance movements, and performance venues.
The symposium also generated a 2012-2016 action plan. The following were identified as elements in that plan:
- “Mapping” of the geography of masquerade bands in Guyana;
- Focusing attention and mobilizing help to areas perceived to be in crucial need;
- Identifying Guyana’s masquerade’s global, regional, and national connections; and
- Encouraging the study and celebration of masquerade’s musical, literary, design aesthetics, and its history.
- Conduct biennial reviews starting in 2014.
Masquerade Lives! Practicum (2014)
Following the biennial schedule, a second masquerade focused symposium was held in Georgetown in 2014—again near the December masquerade season. This symposium featured an international teleconference and two week-long practical workshops.
The two workshops were in response to the concerns about costume design and music. The costume design workshop was held at the E. R. Burrowes School of Art and the music workshop was held at the National School of Music.
The 2014 symposium reviewed actions taken since 2012 and made plans for the 2016 symposium. It was agreed that the December 2016 symposium would be titled Masquerade Jamboree. Among the declared objectives:
- To contribute to enjoyment of the Guyanese Christmas heritage during the Golden Anniversary;
- To showcase the state of the masquerade folk art;
- To showcase contemporary creativity inspired by Guyana’s masquerade heritage
- To demonstrate masquerade’s global, regional, and local connections;
- To support the development of heritage tourism as Guyanese product.
MASQUERADE JAMBOREE/Festival of Guyana Masquerade (2016)
MASQUERADE JAMBOREE/Festival of Guyana Masquerade featured:
- An eight-band Masquerade Parade on December Monday 19th. The event featured bands from Regions 2, 3, 4, and 10.
- A formal opening of the masquerade season;
- National Flounce Off;
- CHANT, a spoken word event celebrating masquerade language;
- Special television programs on the Learning Channel and the National Communication Network;
- READ–the launch of Masquerade: My First Book—an early-childhood activity book; and
- The premiere of the soundtrack for a proposed film The Bourda/Stabroek Affaire.
The website contributes to the story of Guyana Masquerade through the following pages:
- The Art of Flouncing
- Masquerade Movements
- Julio Thijs—the profile of a ‘Tilt Man.
- Masquerade Characters
- Masquerade Costumes
- Masquerade Music
- Derry Etkins: New music inspired by Masquerade and other folk forms
- Masquerade Toasts/Chants
- Masquerade and the Visual Arts
- The Murals
- Dudley Charles (his collection)
- Victor Davson (his collection)
- Errol Brewster (the short film, Mashramani—Is we Ting!)
- Margaret Lawrence (The short film, Tradition)
- My First Book about Masquerade
- Global Connections
We will continue to add to this site. Our goal is to make this site the preeminent site for historical and contemporary information on Guyana Masquerade.
We hope you find this site useful. Your feedback is encouraged and will be deeply appreciated. You are requested not to introduce divisive political rhetoric, especially comments aimed at inflaming ethnic tensions through direct personal attacks or innuendo. Further, practices that abuse intellectual property rights are discouraged. Failure to respect these expectations will not be tolerated, and the offending posts will be deleted.
Vibert C. Cambridge, A.A., Ph.D., President,
Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc.