By Stephen Spark
Friday 22 June 2012 : 9:00 GMT
More details have been released about the inaugural Flic en Flac Carnival in Mauritius, on 1 July.
In an exclusive interview, an official from the MTPA (Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority) the carnival's organiser updated Soca News.
About 25 floats with around 600 participants will start off from La Vieille Cheminée at 2pm and pass along the coastal road through Flic en Flac for about 3km, ending up at Ballade de Miss France.
Top of the bill is Brazilian carnival performance group DanceBrazil, which will be supported by Priscilla Machado – Miss Brazil 2011 – and Adriana Bombom. Born Adriana Soares (‘bombom’ means candy), she is a well-known Brazilian TV personality, film actress and carnival performer, and has headed the bateria for several schools of samba in both Rio and São Paulo, including Portela, Tom Maior and, this year, Salgueiro.
Adding to the international flavour will be Chayé yo, a French Caribbean carnival group that takes part in the Carnaval de Paris and at other carnivals in the Ile-de-France region and beyond. Founded in 2004, it now has 12 dancers and 40 musicians playing instruments such as the ti-bwa, chacha, bell, tom and the tom bass. There will also be a contingent from the Mauritian island of Rodrigues.
Co-organiser of the carnival is local company Remy Vachet Productions, which is bringing along a host of Disney characters. Some of them have undergone bizarre name changes, so it will be a challenge to identify Raiponse, the Gene, Captain Crochet, Raficky, the monkey with long arms, Tigrou “and even Bob the Sponge”, who’ll all be sharing the road with an assortment of princesses, jungle animals and superheroes. Ironically, just after Mauritius signed an agreement to prosecute pirates, RVP announced it was bringing a ship-load of buccaneers to Flic en Flac – hopefully they’ll be of the Johnny Depp variety rather than the Kalashnikov-wielding Somali brigands who have been causing such havoc to Indian Ocean shipping.
Local groups will certainly have their place and include music and dance performances from Berthie Prosper, Ravannes Sans Frontieres, Pascal Montocchio, Chantale Koenig, Bruno Raya, Dany Farla and Les Comédies Musicales de Broadway. The music mix is clearly going to have a strong Brazilian and international element, but there will also be local séga and Bhojpuri, plus Indian, Chinese, techno, jazz and Ibiza styles. But if you want soca or steelpan, you’d better walk with your own! (Still, maybe that’s something to introduce to Mauritius next year…) To get you in the mood, the Sofitel L’Imperial at Wolmar (next door to Flic en Flac) is hosting a Carnival Beach Party from 8.30pm to 11pm on Friday 29 June. Entry to the “dance floor on the beach” with DJ and carnival show – which will include all the Miss Mauritius 2012 contestants – costs Rs1,400 (about £30). The next day, the Hilton Mauritius, also in Wolmar, is putting on a Brazil Carnival Extravaganza, starting with what it calls a “Buffet Experience” at Thatches Restaurant at 7pm, followed by the Pirogue Carnival show, plus Brazilian artists from Rio Carnival and Miss Brazil 2011. Dinner and show cost Rs1,200, which is about £26.
Sobrayen told Soca News: “The music, beat and rhythm of Africa are found in the Vanilla Islands and the Latin American countries. A carnival held in Brazil resonates in Africa and Mauritius by virtue of these common elements. Likewise, a carnival held in the Seychelles or Mauritius will resonate in Brazil.
“We are island people, and our people are plural and open to the outside world. We island people enjoy celebrating life and are always in festive mood. One just has to see how festive we are on our public beaches at the weekend.”
Step this way to win €3,000
If you think you’ve got the moves, there’s a chance to win €3,000. Flic en Flac Carnival organiser MTPA is inviting aspiring choreographers to send in a one-minute video interpreting the carnival’s theme song, which can be heard on the website, www.carnavaldeflicenflac.com. The video can be made using any form of technology and has to be posted on the carnival’s official Facebook page. They will then be submitted to a public vote. There will also be a jury selection based on technical and artistic quality. One catch: you have to be Mauritian to enter.
Mas isn’t forgotten either and there will be prizes for best male and female costumes. The male and female contestants coming 3rd will get lunch for two, those in 2nd place win a weekend stay for two in a Mauritian hotel and the 1st prize winners can claim a return economy flight (presumably from Mauritius) to Milan with Meridiana Fly.
From controversy to co-operation
As Soca News readers will know, the Flic en Flac Carnival got off to a controversial start. Sabrina Sobrayen, at the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, explained: “Unfortunately, the media started to blur relations with Seychelles and Réunion, saying we are copy-catting the Seychelles Carnival. In good faith the MTPA thought it was a means to share international visibility with members of the Vanilla Islands [the islands of the western Indian Ocean].”
In tacit recognition that mistakes were made in the way the carnival was promoted initially, the event has been officially renamed. “Mauritius has accepted to rebrand its carnival as ‘Carnaval de Flic en Flac’ instead of ‘Carnaval Iles Vanille’,” Sobrayen stated. “Mauritius will organise the Shopping Fiesta, Seychelles the Carnival of Victoria, Réunion Island a Festival de la Cuisine and Madagascar the International Tourism Fair...” Various other themed ‘fiestas’ are planned – “We want tourists to ask themselves when will be the next Mauritian Fiesta!”
The Mauritian prime minister, Navin Ramgoolam, recently visited Seychelles and met tourism minister Alain St Ange, who presented his guest with the 2012 Seychelles carnival brochure. St Ange took the opportunity to invite Mauritius to join Réunion and Seychelles in co-organising the 2013 Carnaval International de Victoria and emphasised “We are not competitors”.
The “misunderstanding” between Mauritius and Seychelles over claims of carnival plagiarism may have been cleared up, but the MTPA has yet to make peace with all its critics. Recently, a well-known African tourism blogger made some barbed remarks about the ‘carnival wars’. He received, and published, a response that seemed to attack Seychelles, sent under the name of MTPA managing director Karl Mootoosamy. The latter responded furiously, denying the words were his and claiming that his Twitter account had been hacked. MTPA chairman Robert Desvaux went on to describe the criticism as “harassment” and threatened to sue any journalist who perpetuated the “misunderstanding”.
The Indian Ocean islands may be new to carnival, but they certainly know how to do commesse!