Caribana conference starts Wednesday at York

Caribana dancers will shake and shimmy to the beat of drums at York this Wednesday as part of the ceremonial opening of a conference exploring the art of carnival. It is set to coincide with this year’s Caribana street festival in Toronto.

“Carnival, ‘A People’s Art’ and Taking Back the Streets” runs from July 30 to Aug. 3 and is hosted by York and the University of Toronto, with the opening ceremony taking place in the CIBC Lobby, Accolade East, Keele campus. In addition to the dancers and drummers, there will be a "roots of calypso" exhibit as well as a book and fashion display in the CIBC Lobby, a carnival exhibit in the Gales Gallery, 105 Accolade West Building, and a video screening in the NM Screening Room, Accolade East.

The conference explores the social, political and cultural aspects of carnival and street theatre, as well as themes of exclusion, exoticism and cross-cultural acceptance, connections across the diaspora, and comparisons between carnival in Africa, the Caribbean, South and North America, Europe and the UK.

Joe Roach, the Charles C. & Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of Theater & English at Yale University, will give the keynote address on the first day of the conference, titled “Sweating Blood: Masking and magic from Trinidad to New Orleans”. Roach is the author of It (University of Michigan Press, 2007), The Player’s Passion: Studies in the Science of Acting (University of Delaware Press, 1985) and Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance (Columbia, 1996).

A number of panels will tackle subjects as diverse as European carnival traditions, the history and performance of carnival in Canada, carnival design, myths and images of Africa, the sociopolitical dynamics of Caribana and the global spread of carnival.

The conference will also include two panel sessions specifically dedicated to Steelpan music, organized by the International Steelpan Association & British Association of Steelbands.

In addition to the panels, there will be a seminar on the anthropological approaches to carnival as well as workshops, performances and screenings.

For more information, visit the Carnival, ‘A People’s Art’ and Taking Back the Streets Web site.