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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Borokeet - Atlantis

from Indo Caribbean World

By William Doyle-Marshall
“Atlantis” is Borokeet Canada’s portrayal for the 40th anniversary of Caribana. Downstairs in Frankie Ramsaroop’s Mississauga basement is a virtual museum of production preparation where the group’s chief architect, proudly displays material and extensive drawings of characters.
“I am very optimistic of what we are going to present in order to make our presentation satisfactory. We make costumes to suit the people, to satisfy these people who are portraying characters,” Ramsaroop was firmly adamant about the band’s standard.
“If the judges say it is not to their likeness, too bad!”
For a moment Frankie compares his production with his counterparts in the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Being careful not to be too critical, the former athlete observed there is tremendous similarity between masquerade bands.
“You could take all the banners down, it (would) look like one band. Everything is the same thing. This (his band) is different. Every year we do something different,” he explained calmly during our conversation one Sunday evening.
As he moves through characters of his 2007 production, Ramsaroop says “It’s really something to do with the sea, the lost city and we have a big programme.” He had a group of people working on the characterization and as we conversed, the veteran bandleader said they were just actually feeling out what they wanted to do. Money is always at the top of bandleaders’ shopping lists and Frankie is no exception. “We are looking for money - $73,000 - and these are the things we are doing,” he said while perusing images on a computer screen.
He felt as though he was “behind the eight-ball”. At that time production was not in full swing but the optimist that Ramsaroop is, he hoped everything would go good. It felt very much like Frankie and his team were stepping out of the box. With “Atlantis” as the theme Borokeet’s creative vision for the road on Caribana Day would be something that synchronizes with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade by Britain.
“We are trying to project these things,” he contended.
The motivation for this, Ramsaroop insists, is to let people know Borokeet’s interest is not only mas. “It is more than mas. We still study the community and our forefathers. His grand plan to emphasize that fact would result in masquerade costumes that should put life to individuals who have played a part in the history of the world. For instance he talks about Marie Josef Angelique, Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Pierre Trudeau, Haile Selassie, Bob Marley, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and many more.
During our conversation Frankie could not say whether these personalities will be seen walking along the parade route but he had some ideas of portraying them within the context of his production.
What’s the motivation for producing a band every year and not realizing any profits? “It’s the culture. We look at the people who come here from abroad like New York, England and elsewhere. They come for a holiday and it is our day. Caribana becomes a West Indian day in my opinion, where we meet friends and family to enjoy this weekend that is called Caribana”.
For the Borokeet dream to become real on Caribana parade day, it means attracting 250 masqueraders to put their show on the road. While they could work with more, Ramsaroop noted the help to create costumes is missing. “If we get the 250 people and they come late, our problem is getting costumes to fit masqueraders properly,” Ramsaroop thought out loud.
“If they don’t fit you properly, it makes no sense selling you a costume. We want to make sure what we give you will make that presentation to suit so that it would project the image of Borokeet. It’s not a case of taking a costume and wearing it casually,” he continued.
Borokeet’s best year was 1994 with the band “Oceans of Fire” and 1995 “On Broadway”. Many years later he revels in the thought of having produced costumes second to none. As a result his band placed third in 1994 and second in 1995.
“We continue producing costumes that are second to none but for whatever reason we don’t have the numbers because we can’t afford to expand more than 250 masqueraders”.
When Borokeet first emerged on the masquerade scene it portrayed ‘Indian – An Indian is an Indian’. This emphasized the various categories of Indians such as Native Indian, even West Indian Indians. Another of their early creations was ‘Seasons’. Employing creative licenses Ramsaroop and his colleagues presented masqueraders in four seasons - two wet and two dry, familiar to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. They were able to sell out six sections depicting six seasons. “We are always in the first five, six, anyway,” he notes proudly.
But as the curtains fall on Caribana 40, Frankie Ramsaroop is taking off his bandleader’s hat and walking away from this initiative that has provided him many challenges over the past 10 years.

I have not been to Borokeet’s camp, but looked at their costumes on their interactive site http://www.borokeetecanada.net/ Check out their pink seashell bra (OCEANA section)!

Their Kiddies King & Jr. Female (which won 1st place, along with their Queen) were among of my favourites, especially the seahorse (hey Sis, this is for you! :-))

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Buublenut, Megan & Karabana at Caribana 2007!

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