Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Beginner moko jumbies find their balance

Moko jumbies - healing spirits of legend striding over the seas to follow the slave routes from Africa - are portrayed by stilt-walkers. Some of their most stupefying costumes are designed by Alan Vaughan, prize-winning artist, moko jumbie performer and coach. With his teams he is a carnival regular at Notting Hill and Port of Spain.

Performance on sticks takes bravery. Skidding on wet ground, dust or a scrap of paper can make you fall. In just a light breeze, vast sail-like costumes and complex head-dresses give unwelcome resistance and the long sticks are hard to manoeuvre.

This training weekend is for beginners on short starter sticks. The crump and clack of a body on wooden stilts hitting the tarmac is mercifully rare.

I listen to Alan gently coaxing a nervous pupil. I want him to record his soft, fluent words of reassurance, for his tone of voice as much as the content. He could get people to stop smoking with a tape like that.

'It's kind of easy but very scary at the same time.'

'Slow down!'
'He can't - he's learning to walk.'

'Rita, guess what, I'm exploring the world.'

The moko jumbie instruction, at the Yaa Centre in Notting Hill, was organised by Carnival Village Trust and Elimu Mas Academy. Alan was assisted by Blessing and Marshal of #OriginMokoJumbies. More information is on the Moko Somõkõw Facebook page.

A drawing maps time so someone can be in two places at once

The real thing

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