Antoine International shows ‘Faces & Places’ for Labor Day

Masqueraders in Antoine International. From left Cassandra Nicholas portrays Ultra Carnival (Trinidad), Alissa Victor portrays 'Jewel Box,' Shaniya Ramjattan portrays 'Rekindle,' and Akiya Can portrays 'Bermuda Triangle.'
Masqueraders in Antoine International. From left Cassandra Nicholas portrays Ultra Carnival (Trinidad), Alissa Victor portrays ‘Jewel Box,’ Shaniya Ramjattan portrays ‘Rekindle,’ and Akiya Can portrays ‘Bermuda Triangle.’
Photo by Nelson A. King

After showcasing “Untamed” in the 2019 West Indian American Day Carnival Parade on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway, the Brooklyn-based Antoine International is portraying “Faces & Places” this year.

“I want people to know that carnival can be based on a place,” Trinidadian band leader Kenneth Antoine told Caribbean Life at the mas camp at 245 East, 34th St., between Snyder and Church Avenues, in Brooklyn.

“They can be from any place, but depending on what they wear, you’ll know where they’re from,” the veteran mas designer added.

Antoine said the large band, with at least 240 masqueraders, comprises eight mixed sections.

Among the sections are: Rekindle, Jewel Box, Ultra Carnival (Trinidad), Hawaii and Bermuda Triangle.

Akiya Cain portrays 'Bermuda Triangle.'
Akiya Cain portrays ‘Bermuda Triangle.’Photo by Nelson A. King

Akiya Cain, 29, will be portraying Bermuda Triangle.

“I’ve been doing this (playing mas) for 10 years with Antoine; doing mas since I was 5 years old,” she said after donning a costume. “I love it. It’s literally in my blood.”

Shaniya Ramjattan portrays "Rekindle."
Shaniya Ramjattan portrays “Rekindle.” Photo by Nelson A. King

Guyanese Shaniya Ramjattan said she is playing with Antoine International for the very first time, portraying Rekindle.

“Hopefully, it will be for a very long time,” she said. “I’ve had my fair share of carnivals.”

Ramjattan said she hopes to add Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Miami to the list of carnivals she anticipates to participate in next year.

Alissa Victor portrays "Jewel Box."
Alissa Victor portrays “Jewel Box.” Photo by Nelson A. King

Alissa Victor, 20, will portray Jewel Box, playing for the first time also with Antoine International.

Victor said she has been playing mas since she was 16 “just to have fun,” adding that she hopes to “see some celebrities” this year.

Cassandra Nicholas portrays "Ultra Carnival" (Trinidad).
Cassandra Nicholas portrays “Ultra Carnival” (Trinidad). Photo by Nelson A. King

Cassandra Nicholas, 27, has been participating in Antoine’s mas for seven to eight years.

“I just come to have fun,” she said, disclosing that she will portray Ultra Carnival (Trinidad). “For two years, we’ve had no mas because of COVID-19, and, now, we’ll mash up the road.”

In portraying Hawaii, Shannys King said she expects to “have the amount of fun that I’ve had for the past five years and enjoy mas, and the fact that we have the opportunity to enjoy the experience again.”

Antoine, who has been producing mas for 38 years – both in Trinidad and Tobago and New York – said his band has been participating in the large band category for the last three West Indian American Day Carnival Parades.

In 2019, the band placed 3rd for both adults and children.

“I expect to win this year,” Antoine said. “They can’t beat me. We’ll be ready for Labor Day. We have a crew working on the costumes.”

Antoine can be reached at (347) 303-7857.

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