She tells me that Carnival is in her blood. The graduate of UWI has always been a Carnival baby. Growing up she was exposed to a climate where both parents played mas and enjoyed the different faucets of Carnival. At age two she made her debut on stage (with baby bottle in mouth), her experience at age four being her real debut where she portrayed a cupcake designed by the now deceased veteran mas designer, Wayne Berkley. "I always loved the stage. I felt at home on the stage. When I played the cupcake, I remember Sparrow's song; 'Doh Back back' was out. I loved the song and I refused to come off the stage". For this year's Dimanche Gras, it wasn't a case of revelry though as she assumed a sombre mood as she fit into the character of a weeping mother. The aura of her performance was set by the tassa drums which MacFarlane so expertly chose as her accompaniment and her typically no-nonsense persona also helped in her depiction.
|'Mother of Humanity the weeping Madonna'|
Grace, poise and elegance. I learn that these qualities come naturally for Bovell because she is a true dancer. She learned modern dance, ballet and tap dance at a tender age from her aunts who taught dance and her father used to take her to Duke Street to dance bele. "My dream was to be a professional dancer but my dad said no to me pursuing it as a profession. He told me, 'dance all you like but you need a profession'. He didn't think T&T culture was serious about dance". This point brings us to another factor which steered her towards the big stage — her desire to follow in her father's footsteps. "I wanted to do the things my dad did. He loved to play mas and so I gravitated towards it. He never played King of the Band but he was always very involved and he steered me in that direction," says the former student of St Joseph's Convent, Port of Spain. Her aspiration to be "just like daddy" also propelled her towards the field of medicine but that's another story. "Daddy didn't want me to become a doctor despite the fact that he is an oncologist. He wished that I had become an accountant or engineer instead but I guess the Lord had other plans for me," Bovell states. Ironically, her passion for Carnival and her passion for medicine are almost the same as she claims that she enjoys the best of both worlds — the allure of the arts and the intrigue of science. Her father shares the same scenario. "It's as if I am split between two worlds but I enjoy them both. My mom is an artist, actually she used to design my costumes when I was younger and my dad has a passion for art as well while performing his role as a doctor. I go to my job at the National Radiology Centre daily and I feel accomplished when I contribute to someone's life and I contribute to the people in my society. When I come back home I use music and my dance to relax," the former pan player confesses. Not your typical medical doctor nor Queen of Carnival, Bovell isn't your typical church attendee either. However, she is a highly spiritual and religious individual. "I played the 2011 Carnival Queen for the Catholic band. My portrayal was 'Eve, of Eternal Light'," she informs me. This statement ushers in my next question: "One year you're Eve, the next year you're the Weeping Madonna. Is it all a coincidence?" She suggests that it may have been a divine coincidence but certainly not a planned decision but she is happy by the direction her mas compass has taken her. "I am a vintage soul. I love Carnival but I believe that it doesn't have to be vulgar and disrespectful to God to be culturally uplifting. It doesn't always have to be a forum for the best wining tune or indecent behaviour. I grew up keeping God as the centre of everything I do. He was there with me in medical school and He was there with me on the stage for the Dimanche Gras. I even said a prayer before I took the stage and I had my family and friends praying for my performance. Carnival is an art that doesn't have to be polluted by the very ills depicted by Sanctification; it can be pure and morally enjoyable." she argues. How can something so carnal be juxtaposed into something so pure? "As in everything, there are good and bad elements. As a doctor I know this all too well. But the people are what make or break the institution. The Health Sector in T&T can be a whole lot better but there are still good doctors and nurses in the sector. Likewise in Carnival, there are a lot of negative features in the greatest show on earth but there are still those out there making the sacrifice to save the true beauty of the festival!"
With the answers to the spectators' questions as to the true identity of the lady in the Weeping Madonna revealed, there is just one more question for the aspiring Medical Specialist/Carnival Queen/Latin dancer — Will she make another graceful entrance onto the Dimanche Gras stage for Carnival 2013? "I intend to play Queen once more, whether my portrayal be along the same celestial path, only time and divine intervention will tell!" Bovell concludes with a knowing smile.