By Dea Yu (age 9), Selena Xu (age 9), Edward Wang (age 9)
On November 9, 2014, Voice K journalists went to the Day of the Dead Festival at Toronto Harbourfront Center. Colourful lights lit up the rooms. The halls were filled with beautiful Mexican paper cut-out decorations and stunning flower arrangements. Mexican music was heard almost everywhere. This festival looked like a memory from Mexican past.
When we got there, we went downstairs into a room full of information on the Day of the Dead. We went to the back where we started to do some paper cutting, just like the ones that were hanging on the ceiling.
When we got to the theatre for the band performance, it was already very cramped. A couple minutes later, the show started and the audience quieted down. A man walked onto the stage and gave a mini-speech. He talked about the birth of the festival and he introduced the band ─ which was all female ─ that was called “Mariachi Flor de Toloache”. The band members explained that “Flor de Toloache" is the name of a flower in Mexico that they put in love potions.
The show included various songs from the people of Mexico and also Latin America. They have slow, fast, high- and low-pitched songs. They sing many famous songs like Calaca and Guadalajara.
All band members wore skull makeup on half of their face. They were also dressed in beautiful band costumes. To us, we didn’t see a band with costumes and makeup. When they were playing slow music, we saw a musical river with beautiful cherry blossom trees all over it. When they were playing fast music, we saw an empty desert with a rampaging horse dancing in the distance.
The audience cheered for the Mariachi Band on stage while they were singing a wonderful tune and clapped to the beat while others danced or sang. That is the Mariachi Flor de Toloache. They are the first ever Mariachi band that are all women. In 2008, Mireya Ramos found the Mariachi band. The Mariachi band was originally from New York, but the members are from Indiana, United States, Australia, Dominican Republic, Mexico and even Canada! What you can explore are celebrations from Mexico and other areas of Latin America.
“My father was a mariachi and I used to go with him to all his shows,” says Ramos, a violinist and a singer. “So I fell in love with mariachi music and through that I would learn violin and voice.”
The band explained their half skull makeup: “The day of the dead is about celebrating our ancestors. Part of the makeup represents the ancestors and part of it represents our generation.”
“It was very exciting when I learned the festival is happening and is assigned to me,” said lead artistic associate, Umair Jaffer. “Harbourfront Centre has a theme of legacy this year. Under this theme, we are transforming from the past to the present and to the future,”
Day of the dead (Dia de los Muertos) is the time of the year when people celebrate and be happy for the people from the past. This celebration was born before Christianity was invented.
“All the activities from the festival are about legacy, celebrating the past and passing onto the next generation,” said Jaffer.
BY: Leo Yin (age 11)
Crafts, music, and fun! I couldn’t decide which was best.
From the craft section, there was a great artist, Steve Loretta, who made attractive skull crafts. The most interesting skull was a sugar skull completely covered in icing leaves which was really breath-taking since the leaves looked real.
He made about four types of crafts for the Day of the Dead celebration. Loretta said, “I started making the these crafts five years ago when I was running a children’s workshop on making the sugar skulls in 2009 at the Brick Works, which made me now have a good memory of how to make them.”
There were paper skulls, sugar skulls, full skeletons, and skull decorations. The biggest question in my head was how he created so many decorations for the celebration and did not run out of ideas.
“I was inspired from my heart to make these creations and that is just a thing I like to do,” Loretta said.
He even made a sugar skull kit with which to decorate your own sugar skull with icing. The decorations came with eye catching colours and irresistible style.
This is a Mexican celebration to respect the dead. Next time don’t forget to have fun with some awesome Day of the Dead crafts!