Friday, July 31, 2009

Trimidad guardian interview

York mas band to celebrate Indian culture
Glenville Ashby

Published: 30 Jul 2009

President/designer Anthony Pollymore outside Borekeete
USA headquarters in New York.

Glenville Ashby

Just a block away from the Breakfast Shed on Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, is legendary mas band, Borekeete USA. This year, its portrayal of Chutney Bacchanal is a tribute to the Indian community of T&T, and there’s already talk of it capturing the coveted Band of the Year Award.
President and designer Anthony Pollymore, who has lent his services to mas camps from Trinidad to St Croix, said of the portrayal: “This year, we thought it fitting to acknowledge the contribution that the Indians of T&T have made to the overall culture of our nation. Borekeete USA is a trailblazing organisation that has set the standard for mas bands in New York, having won numerous awards over the last decade. It has spawned other giants, such as Hawks and Sesame Fliers. Today, Borekeete USA has been eclipsed as the main player and continues to see members of its rank desert, only to form rival outfits.
Pollymore has taken this in stride. “Look, section leaders are given leeway and have a lot of influence, so it’s only natural that after a while they will tell themselves that they can start a band.” He finds some solace in what he calls “the unofficial Peoples Choice Award,” and states, “if we had the numbers like Sesame Flyers we coulda win. Everybody always says that after they see the bands on Monday,” referring to Labour Day.
Chutney Bacchanal is expected to be 700 strong, with each section highlighting an aspect of Indian culture and art. The Ganges, Divali, Phagwa, the Sun Goddess, and Sitar, are the names given to some of the sections. And unlike other bands, Borekeete USA’s kids’ section will complement the overriding theme of the adult portrayal.
In years past, Carnival along Eastern Parkway was serenaded by live bands and big name entertainers. Pollymore discusses that topic, evidently frustrated by “the crazy fees that artistes are asking for a few hours of work.” Soon, he was bearing his soul: “Last year, we were able to get Allison Hinds because her fee was paid for by Courts, who was opening its first store here in Brooklyn. That way they promoted their business. We can never afford Machel and other top performers.” According to Pollymore, fees for the elite entertainers could run as high as forty thousand US dollars for just about four hours of work. Despite the concerns he expressed, Pollymore hinted at this year’s entertainment. Let’s just say, it’s a big one! But more on that later.
Chutney Bacchanal’s mas is being skillfully constructed in the basement of Borekeete USA headquarters. This is the heart of the enterprise, where the art of wire-bending, cutting, sticking and the assembly of the costumes take place. In a way, this is a West Indian effort. Toni Bramble and Montgomery Fraser, who hail from St Vincent, were assiduously at work, ensuring the best product possible. They were soon joined by Pollymore, who shed some light on the work involved before that big day: “It’s no problem getting feathers and the gold and silver leatherette here in New York, but other colours like purple, red, and pink ...we have to send for them from Trinidad. Same thing with the beads...gotta get it from home.” Things are shaping up here at Borekeete USA. Their supporters should take heart.
(Glenville Ashby is a New York based journalist)

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home