September 9 - 16, 1998

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Carnival Comes to Hartford this Week

by Andy Hart

"A City Celebrates!" will bring the swirling rhythms, hypnotic dancing and elaborate costumes of a traditional Trinidadian carnival to Hartford over the next few days. The festival, which opens today, September 9, and winds up Sunday, September 13, includes a variety of events at Trinity College and other sites throughout the city.

A City Celebrates! is sponsored by Trinity in collaboration with the City of Hartford, the National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago, the Island of Trinidad and numerous local cultural organizations led by the Charter Oak Cultural Center. It is being held in conjunction with the World Conference on Carnival and Carnival Traditions at Trinity. The conference, the first of its kind in the world, will also end on Sunday.

This year's festival is a test run and, if successful, organizers hope to make it an annual Hartford happening.

The festival's first event, a series of Student Carnival Workshops, will be held at Trinity today from 8:30 am-2:30 pm. Approximately 1,200 local students are expected to attend the workshops, which will offer instruction in carnival costumes and performance traditions. A kick-off party for the festival will also be held today at the Trinity's Austin Arts Center at 5 pm.

On Thursday, September 10, at 8 pm the Austin Arts Center's Goodwin Theater will host the world premiere of "The Dragon Can't Dance," a play adapted from the classic carnival novel by novelist Earl Lovelace. Tickets are $12 general admission and $8 for students. The play will also be performed on Friday and Saturday at 8 pm. These later performances are open to the public.

On Friday, September 11, there will be a performance about the Trinidad carnival tradition at the Austin Arts Center from 9 am to noon. Later on Friday, a carnival performance showcase with world-famous calypso artist Gypsy, stilt walking and a limbo dancing, will be held in the Washington Room of Mather Hall at Trinity College at 8 pm. Both events are free and open to the public.

The festival continues in the wee hours of Saturday morning at Community Health Services, 500 Albany Avenue, with a traditional "Jouvay" celebration from 2-8 am. Participants in the Jouvay, which is the traditional celebration of the opening night of carnival, will hold a street procession to Bushnell Park at the close of the event.

Later on Saturday, a panel discussion on the "Traditions of the Americas" will be held at Trinity's McCook Auditorium from 9 am to noon. Admission is free.

The festival rolls into high gear on Saturday evening with a Street Procession that will start at Trinity, proceed down Broad Street to Russ, turn on Trinity Street and then into Bushnell Park. The procession is scheduled to start at 5:30 pm and over 1,000 people and numerous performers are expected to participate. Following the procession, a "City Celebration & Samba Fete" will be held in Bushnell Park until 10:30 pm. Gypsy and the Connecticut Samba Ensemble Sambatucana will perform at the celebration.

Things will get a bit mellower for the festival's final day, Sunday, September 13, with a performance by a massed community choir accompanied by a steel band at the Trinity College Chapel at 12:30 pm. The festival's final event, a performance by David Rudder ("the Bob Marley of Soca/Calypso") will be held in Trinity's main quadrangle at 3:30 pm.

For more information on A City Celebrates! call 249-1207.

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