Cozumel Carnival Comparsa Dance - Cozumel 4 You

Cozumel Carnival Comparsa Dance

Dancing in the Streets:  My Day with a Comparsa

Laura Wilkinson details her day with “Antifaces y Mascaras de la Luna”……

Antifaces y Mascaras de la Luna with my neighborhood

The most popular Carnaval events are obviously the three parade nights, however experiencing a full Cozumel Carnaval  can involve so much more.  All the pre-Carnaval events start nearly a month before the parade dates, however for the “comparsas” or dance troupes, rehearsal starts much earlier.

 

Last year I was lucky enough to convince Heather Bryan to write 2 articles about “What it’s like to Dance in a Carnaval Parade,”  which were wildly popular and informative.  So when I approached her for this year she suggested I join her and her comparsa Antifaces y Mascaras de la Luna for a day of dancing in the streets.

Heather and the rest of the dancers get ready

 

Antifaces y Mascaras de la Luna started practicing in September with rehearsals taking place starting at 11 pm on the CBTIS school  blacktop, when the performers are done with work and the temperatures are cooler.  There are 31 dancers under the direction of Emmanuel Jesus Campos Coral.

 

I volunteered to be a dance caddy for the entire day on Sunday February 11th, one of the two days that they’d be dancing in the street.   I was really excited to participate since the comparsa had just come in first place in their division the day before.   On my caddy day,  they had 10 stops planned, in addition to the parade that evening. Amazingly enough their routine, which was slightly shorter and adapted for the smaller dance areas, was still approximately 15 minutes long, and had 4 different song sections.

 

Comparas dance in the streets at a variety of locations, and in this case we started out at Emmanuel’s mother’s house.  I got the opportunity to chat with Mom for a few minutes while the performers set up speakers and touched up their make-up. Mom and her friends love having the troupe start at her house since she’s not comfortable walking and standing so much anymore and, of course she loves to see what her son and his friends have accomplished.  Neighbors came out, everyone opened up sodas and bags of snacks were passed around, as they sat and enjoyed the show.

 

After the first performance we raced down to the museum where all of the comparsas stop by, so it’s on a strict schedule, and it was imperative that we arrive by our 11:30 time slot.  Throughout the day we packed into cars, a large van and a variety of scooters to have the dancers strut their stuff at different member’s homes throughout the island, sponsors who have helped Antifaces y Mascaras, and other island businesses including a stop at Papa Hog’s, that involved stopping traffic on one side of the malecon.

 

In spite of the fact that the sun was beating down, the costumes were heavy, and feet were sore every single member of Antifaces y Mascaras never stopped smiling, never stopped bringing their A game, and their enthusiasm shone through from the first stop to their last stop, which happened to be in front of my house.

 

Neighbors turn out to watch the show

By the time we arrived at my street, we were over an hour behind schedule.  Even after their 10th performance of the day they all took a moment to pose for a group photo with my neighborhood, give a few hugs, and head home to get ready for that evening’s parade.

 

One of the things that most impressed me with Antifaces y Mascara was the strong sense of comradery they share.  While many of them have danced together for several years, they were warm and receptive to everyone, including this total stranger who rolled up for the day.   Another heartwarming aspect was the support and enthusiasm the neighborhoods displayed to the dancers.  Even lowly support staff, such as dance caddies like myself, we offered chairs to sit on, bottles of water, and of course encouraging cheers.

 

For anyone looking to augment their Carnaval experience, get involved in the community or just watch a bunch of really hard working and talented dancers in fancy dress, I’d strongly encourage you to join in.

Bailando por las Calles. Mi día con una Comparsa

Laura Wilkinson cuenta a detalle su día con “Antifaces y Máscaras de la Luna”. . .

Los eventos más populares del Carnaval claramente son las tres noches de desfiles. Sin embargo, vivir la experiencia total de un Carnaval de Cozumel implica mucho más. Todos los eventos previos al Carnaval inician cerca de un mes antes de las fechas de los desfiles; pero para las comparsas, los ensayos comienza mucho antes.

 

El año pasado tuve la  fortuna de convencer a Heather Bryan para que escribiera dos artículos sobre “ Qué se siente Bailar en un Desfile de Carnaval”, que fueron sumamente populares e informativos. Entonces, le planteé hacer lo mismo este año, ella sugirió durante un día de bailes en las calles, la acompañara a ella y a su comparsa Antifaces y Mascaras de la Luna.

 

Antifaces y Máscaras de la Luna comenzaron los ensayos a Septiembre a partir de las 11 pm en el piso de asfalto de la escuela CBTIS, cuando los bailarines concluyeron sus labores y las temperaturas son más frescas. Hay 31 bailarines bajo la dirección de Emmanuel Jesús Campos Coral.

 

Me ofrecí como voluntaria transportando cosas para los bailes todo el domingo 11 de febrero; uno de los dos días que bailarían en la calle. Estaba muy emocionada por participar ya que el día anterior la comparsa había obtenido el primer lugar en su categoría. En mi día como transportadora habían planeado 10 paradas, además del desfile esa noche. Sorprendentemente su rutina, la cual era un tanto más corta y adaptada para áreas más pequeñas, tenía una duración de casi 15 minutos y 4 canciones distintas.

 

Las comparsas bailan en diversos sitios en las calles, y en este caso comenzamos en casa de la madre de Emmanuel.

Emmanuel’s mother watchs the comparsa dance

Tuve la oportunidad de platicar con su madre por unos minutos en tanto los bailarines colocaban las bocinas y retocaban su maquillaje. A la madre y a sus amigos les encanta que la comparsa comience en su casa pues ya no se siente cómoda caminando y estar parada por mucho tiempo; y, claro está, le encanta ver lo que su hijo y amigos han logrado. Los vecinos salieron, todos abrieron los refrescos y, mientras disfrutaban del espectáculo sentados, se compartían las bolsas de botanas.

 

Después de la primera presentación, corrimos hacia el museo donde todas las comparsas paran, así que está dentro del estricto programa y era imperativo que llegáramos a tiempo a nuestro turno a las 11:30. En el transcurso del día llenamos los automóviles, una camioneta grande y varias motocicletas para que los bailarines bailaran en distintas casas de los miembros a través de la Isla, de los patrocinadores de Antifaces y Máscaras y otros comercios incluyendo una parada en Papa Hog’s, que implicó detener el tránsito en una vía del malecón.

 

A pesar del hecho que había calor, de los disfraces pesaban y de los pues adoloridos, cada uno de los miembros de Antifaces y Máscaras continuamente sonreía, nunca dejaron de dar lo mejor de sí y su entusiasmo brillo desde la primera parada hasta la última, frente a mi casa.

 

Para cuando llegamos a mi calle, ya nos habíamos retrasado una hora. Incluso después de su 10º baile del día, todos posaron para una foto de grupo con mis vecinos, dar abrazos y regresar a casa para prepararse para el desfile de la noche.

 

Una de las cosas que más me impresionó con Antifaces y Máscaras fue la fuerte camaradería que comparten. En tanto que muchos de ellos han bailado juntos desde hace varios años, mostraban su calidez y receptividad a todos, incluyendo a esta total extraña que se presentó ese día. Otro aspecto emotivo fue el apoyo y entusiasmo que se mostraba en las colonias hacia los bailarines. Incluso a los miembros menores del equipo como a mi, nos ofrecieron sillas para sentarnos, botellas de agua y, claro, ovaciones animándonos.

 

Para todo aquel que desee aumentar su experiencia de Carnaval, participe con la comunidad o sólo observe a los talentosos y perseverantes bailarines en sus elegantes atuendos. Los exhorto a que participen.

 

 

 

Laura Wilkinson

Author at Cozumel 4 You
Laura Wilkinson is the Editor for Cozumel 4 You. An ex-Connecticut Yankee who has called Cozumel home for over 15 years, Laura ran away to the Caribbean years ago, bumped around the islands teaching SCUBA diving, lost some time in Jamaica, and finally stopped in Cozumel for a 2 week vacation that hasn’t ended yet. With a degree in Journalism from a fancy private college she convinced her parents to pay for, Laura writes, edits, and creates the weekly Cozumel 4 You news, promotional articles about the island, and her very own blog, which she finds hilarious. Her long suffering husband, the Fabster, has long since resigned himself to having zero private life, as he’s been involved in her various schemes and plots since his arrival. Proud parents to a variety of rescue dogs and cats, Laura continues to be the bane of her traditional Mexican mother-in-law’s existence, as she muses her way through life in the Mexican Caribbean.

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