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Moko Jumbie Mas Camp
June 18, 2022 - July 17, 2022
The Bentway Studio (55 Fort York Blvd)
Since its earliest known historical appearance in 1791 in St. Vincent, the masquerade (mas) character known as Moko Jumbie has enchanted and frightened people throughout the Caribbean and its diasporas. With a mesmerising spectacle of balance and regalia, the guardian spirit both protects and participates in the Carnival street festivities. As a protector, Moko Jumbie is a reminder that playing mas is rooted in resistance to colonial oppression and Euro-centric religiosity. As a participant, Moko Jumbie is an expression and celebration of emancipation and freedom.
Generations of practitioners have continued this West African masquerade tradition in Afro-Caribbean communities worldwide, and, famously, here in Toronto, where Carnival has had a long relationship with the streets of our city. From its beginnings on Bloor, Yonge, and University to its current route along Lake Shore, each summer Carnival brings the Caribbean-Canadian community together ‘pon de road’ along with the rest of the city, to celebrate joy and liberation.
This summer, as we welcome Carnival back to the streets of Toronto, Michael Lee Poy’s Moko Jumbie Mas Camp will take over The Bentway Studio at Canoe Landing in June and July, offering a free series of youth-centred workshops in costume-making, stilt-walking, and more. The workshops will be led by local and international artists.
The Mas Camp uses indigenous Afro-Caribbean masquerade practices to promote collaborative learning environments, team building and leadership training for young people ages 10+ and their parents. The workshops, along with regular stilt-walking practice, will enable students to balance, dance, and comfortably wear regalia for a grand finale parade in and around Canoe Landing Park on Sunday July 17.
Register in advance for this free, multi-day training camp by filling out the registration form.
What to expect:
- Washrooms available
- Walking required
About the Artist:
Michael Lee Poy is an Assistant Professor at OCAD University and an Afro-Caribbean artist/designer/activist/architect from Trinidad and Tobago and Canada. His practice and interests are centred on post-colonial Caribbean design and fabrication in the festival arts – especially Carnival. A graduate of Pratt Institute of Technology in architecture (B. Arch.) and the Yale Graduate School of Architecture, Environmental Design (MED), Michael aims to use interdisciplinarity to augment the innovative, creative, and collaborative process of design. For the past 5 years, Michael has been incubating the Moko Jumbie Mas Camp workshops for children aged 7-17. The masquerade (mas) camps are designed and implemented as socially conscious design/build and fabrication/studio/lab workshops.
About the Collaborators:
Xica Dieffenthaller-Lee Poy is 17 years old. Her namesake is a Brazilian 19th c warrior princess who rescued her community. She is a graduate of Bishop Anstey High School P.O.S; a Holistic Primary and Music school alumni, and a member of Lilliput Children’s theatre – a dance and performing arts company in Trinidad. She is a seasoned moko jumbie practitioner and two-time competitor for Junior Carnival Queen. Xica has a diverse skill set; is a helpful, fun, encouraging human; and is fulfilled by sharing her talents with others.
Ezra Houser first trained on stilts with Toronto’s The SwizzleStick Theatre in 1997. He has since established a multimedia dance performance ensemble in Cleveland (SAFMOD) and hosted numerous dance and stilting workshops with the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Ohio Arts Council, Playhouse Square Foundation, Young Audiences of Greater Cleveland, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. In 2005 Ezra founded Stiltdancer in Toronto, a stilt artistry performance company that is regularly featured at Port Credit Buskerfest, and venues like Ontario Place, Blue Mountain, and countless more all over the province. He has also collaborated with Les Giraffes, Chasseur de Rêves and Close Act Theatre.
Claudia Luz Doare is currently a third year Environmental Design student at OCAD University where she hopes to express her unique style through her mixed identity (Miskito and French). She is passionate about sustainable design, diversity in the built environment, and professional design practices. Claudia grew up between Honduras and France and is fluent in Spanish, French, and English. She is a language educator for children K-12. Her personal practice is grounded in her mixed identity and multiple languages.
Charlton Alfonso is currently a Lecturer at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica. He graduated with honours from the University of Trinidad and Tobago with a Bachelors in Performing Arts Degree (2018). He recently graduated with his Master’s in Music at Northern Illinois University (2020) with Honours specialising in Steel pan. Charlton is the founder and bandleader of Jaiso – a ten-instrument band fusing Jazz and Kaiso musical genres. Inspired by mixing and multidisciplinarity, he founded “Jaiso Mokos” – a moko jumbie group focused on cultural edification of the Afro-Caribbean masquerade.
Jasmin Liu is a Toronto-based artist, designer, and maker whose work encompasses various forms of design fabrication. Liu holds a B.Des in Industrial Design from OCAD University. Her artistic practice involves the creation of functional art objects that are touched, held, and interacted with to draw connections between things both tangible and intangible; forging relationships that oscillate between the opposite sides of perceived dualities. Driven by a fierce do-it-yourself ethic while pursuing the quality of fine craft, Liu’s professional experiences include scale model-making, small object design, woodworking, furniture design, larger scale installations and special effects scenic carpentry for film.
Kestin Cornwall grew up in the Windsor, Ontario area, and spent much of his youth in Detroit, Michigan. Over the past ten years, Cornwall has focused on creating relevant, progressive art. He explores culture and humanity’s relationship with beauty, sex, nature, and a long history of cultivation. In addition, he uses images to explore how culture, entertainment, film, and other media, shape the mass public perception of Black people and people of colour in North American society. Each piece depicts an analysis of our obsession with beauty, age, and change. Cornwall is an Assistant Professor at OCAD University and lives in Toronto.
Robin Van Lear migrated in 1990 from California to Cleveland Ohio where she created Parade the Circle Celebration in the Department of Community Arts for the Cleveland Museum of Art and other annual festivals: the Chalk Festival, the Winter Lights Lantern Festival and the Community Festivals program. These signature events drew an annual attendance of nearly 500,000 people. In her personal practice Van Lear has designed numerous puppets, costumes and kinetic sculptures as well as taught at colleges and universities across the USA and internationally. She currently maintains a large studio in Cleveland Heights where she creates installations, costumes, theatrical sets, and giant puppets.