Trinidad Carnival offers inspiration to creatives at Disney and Cirque du Soleil. In 2012, a couture-centric masquerade band presentation by a pair of newcomers sparked hopeful dialogue around the return of innovation to T&T’s famed festival. Before unleashing their inaugural band onto the streets of Port of Spain, bandleader Karen Norman, one-half of the K2K Alliance creative force, explains how the Norman sisters stay inspired.
WHAT WAS YOUR MAIN CONCERN AT THE START OF THE BAND DESIGN PROCESS, WHAT IS YOUR MAIN FEAR NOW, THREE WEEKS BEFORE SHOWTIME?
One of the most compelling parts of the design process is stretching our imagination to create a palatable and exciting concept. Putting pen to paper was the easiest part of the journey. Exposing the mas and the story to the public was the hard part, and one of our greatest fears. Such thoughts like: ‘Would the concept of fusing mas with fashion be accepted? Would the onlooker appreciate the story?’ were the concerns we shared. One of the greatest challenges we face today is getting the mas community to sign up for change. Even though change is one of the things that is constant, it is not always the easiest thing to accept nor, is it the easiest thing to sign-up for. Thus, even three weeks before showtime we are asking those masqueraders who have put away their “mas shoes” since the dilution of [Wayne] Berkeley and [Peter] Minshall to pick-up their dancing shoes and to revel with K2K.
WHAT WOULD YOU NOT DO AGAIN? I was once told that all experiences whether good or bad, leads us to this point in time; to this moment; to the present. Thus, while we would not like to relive any of the challenges that have presented itself over the past 5 years, we would not change anything.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH WITH THIS CREATIVE ENDEAVOR? The band hopes to return mas to traditional splendor. We would like to take our brand to the international runway—open both national and international fashion shows. We would like to showcase our designs in musicals on Broadway and even in concerts. Maybe, when you see Machel [Montano] in concert you will see his team dressed by K2K. On the international arena, maybe one day we will be the opener for Lady Gaga. The possibilities are endless. Minshall showed the world who was Minshall through exposing his talents on several Olympic platforms. We hope to be those Trinidadian twins / women who expose Trinidad mas design to a new arena.
WHAT TRADITION(S) IN CARNIVAL DOES YOUR BAND REFERENCE AS A GUIDELINE OR FOUNDATION? We look toward the great masters, such as Minshall and Berkeley, for a constant reminder that you are never too old to dream, and mas design is built by exploring your imagination and not being afraid to dream.
WILL POLITICS OR CURRENT AFFAIRS EVER FUEL YOUR BAND’S NARRATIVE? Over the next three years the storyline does not reflect the political environment. In terms of storytelling we hope to constantly bring a relatable, yet, interesting storyline to the table.