February arrives and the capital of Corrientes is dressed in sequins, crystals and feathers. People go out to the street in disguise and with their face made up and when they meet someone from their same troupe, they merge into a hug and celebrate being part of this traditional community party held in the province over 80 years ago. After months perfecting costumes, props and dance steps, they will be able to display all their art in a parade that involves about 10,000 people per night.
There are many who will look above the floats, but there are even more who worked on the backstage of the imposing Carnival of Corrientes.
The days before the presentation of the Corsican, the directors of the troupes are always faced with the same problem:
a reduced workforce that charges very high prices for the making of suits, floats, accessories and lighting.
Victoria Quincose (46), former president of Sapucay, found that issue
the opportunity to combine his passion for Carnival and his social commitment. In 2018, together with her friend Gabriela Garrido (43), she founded the first Provincial School of Carnival of Corrientes – free of charge – in order to give a quick job to people who need extra income.
Today, about 150 students attend school: the majority are heads of household who saw in the classes an opportunity to develop their talent and awaken their profession.
“The carnival is year-round for the teammate. He is always working and with his head on it,” says Victoria. She is a lawyer and since she was born, they have instilled in her carnival passion: her father made floats and her mother was a dressing room. When she grew up, she chose Sapucay as her companion and from 2013 to 2017 she was president of it. “Being part of the organization was very enriching for me because I could see the needs they had.
More workshops were always required than were available and the parade ended up being very unprofitable, “recalls Victoria. It was then that in 2014 he decided, together with his friend Gabriela, who belongs to the rival troupe Ará Berá, to organize workshops for the training of artisans in carnival techniques. “We achieved a perfect fusion because we transcended the shirt. We were joined by the desire to generate talent and awaken jobs that were not formalized,” he explains.
We transcend the shirt. We were joined by the desire to generate talent and awaken jobs that were not formalized.
After several years of giving itinerant trainings and after seeing the wide and immediate job departure that their students had, the classmates opted to further professionalize the trade and in 2018,
they founded the first Provincial School of Carnival of Corrientes, free of charge. With government support, they contacted the professors, who are paid by the province through a contribution to the Carnaval & Art Foundation; they chose as headquarters the Cultural Station Center, which depends on the Institute of Culture of the province; and they opened the doors of the establishment to the more than 700 registered.
The school runs from April to December, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays:
“The idea is that those who want to attend to exercise the trade and earn extra income, can do so without missing their respective jobs,” Victoria explains. The classes are intensive and their themes varied: they teach them about design, embroidery, artistic blacksmithing, makeup, construction of floats, lighting, corsetry and plumage. Among the teachers, the names of great Correntino artists such as designer Juan Carlos Maidana or makeup artist Juan Ramón Zaracho stand out.
“The quality of the training is very good and the knowledge they acquire allows them to develop in areas other than carnival, such as fashion or leather goods. There are also several who are working in large theaters,” says the former president of Sapucay.
The school classes are intensive and their themes varied: they teach them about design, embroidery, artistic blacksmithing, makeup, construction of floats, lighting, corsetry and plumage.
Beyond passion or tradition, what motivates students to attend the Carnival School is the certainty that they will get a well-paid job:
Victoria says that in the workshops they can pay between 25,000 and 30,000 pesos per person during the months of December to February. “We are always looking to add training and, in general, we ask the director of the comparsa what he needs and we teach it to the students. That way, we offer a specialized offer,” he says. In addition, he argues that the vast majority of students, about 150, are heads of household who need to increase their income. Although also, there are several young people of barely 16 years interested in the trade: “While there is a majority of women, in leather goods we have a lot of men.”
Once they finish the course, students receive a certificate of attendance:
“Beyond it is non-formal education, attendance gives people a different badge. It is not the same to learn in your home as with these proven artists. Likewise, we are working on the law of the School of Art and Craft of the province to give more strength to the training “, Victoria develops. On the other hand, it tells that they monitor the labor insertion of students and encourage them to continue growing within this industry that “moves an important part of the Correntine economy”.
We ask the director of the group what he needs and we teach it to the students. That way, we provide a specialized offer.
In first person
At 33 years old and almost without thinking, Flavia Torres Ríos enrolled in the Carnival School. Since she was a little girl and “as a good Correntina” she was always interested in the world of comparsas and sometimes, she worked as a workshop from home. “A friend of Corrientes told me to go and obviously I accepted. Now I am living in Resistencia and I travel there for classes,” he says.
Although he received his certificate two years ago, he continues to attend the School to improve himself in the trade: “The classes are very varied and there is always something new to learn. About what we already know, year after year we add new techniques and knowledge” , he assures.
What Flavia values most about the education she receives there is that she now has “a guarantee of her trade.” “Thanks to the contacts they gave me at the School and the certificate, I was able to get a well-paid job in important and innovative workshops in Corrientes,” he explains. In addition, she describes that it was an honor for her to work alongside her teachers, who are renowned people in the carnival province:
“They are rude professionals and we have all the patience in the world,” says the workshop.
Thanks to the contacts they gave me at the School and the certificate, I was able to get a well-paid job in important and innovative workshops in Corrientes.
Flavia Torres Ríos, student and workshop.
This year, Flavia decided to replicate the Carnival in Resistencia, where she lives with her husband and daughters. Together with the organizations Dining Hall Fe y Alegría and Fundación Corazones Emprendedores y Solidarios, and with the help of the provincial government,
He promoted the assembly of a sustainable Corsican: all the materials used to build floats and make the costumes are recycled. “We organize among friends and vulnerable boys from the neighborhood participate in the project.
The idea is that the Corrientes Carnival is multiplied by all because it is part of our culture. It is a beautiful opportunity to compete healthily, “he concludes.
The Carnival School operates in Corrientes Capital but thanks to the dissemination in
social networks, has become a reference in the subject nationwide.
Therefore, it is common for Victoria, Gabriela and the team of teachers to travel to other locations and even to other provinces to teach classes: they have already visited Buenos Aires, Chaco, Formosa, Córdoba, La Pampa and Santiago del Estero. “Time is tyrannical and we cannot travel everywhere but it is great to plant culture where we do,” insists the lawyer.
The Correntine school that turned Carnival into an original work outing – Source: Youtube
The Provincial School of Carnival was one of the winners for its contribution to the community with the Great Zoomadores award, from the foundation
. In the competition participated those people, organizations and projects of the Argentine NEA with social impact that have achieved a positive change in their community, regularly and for a period greater than a continuous year.