A diverse group of women of all ages from Trafford are looking forward to joining the biggest street celebration in decades, which also features stars from Ed Sheeran to Sir Cliff Richard and others.
Isha Rajan, Francesca Henderson, Farheen Saloojee, Jane Halpin, Janet Gorman and Sonia Sharma will represent the borough at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant, a spectacular parade which is taking place in London on Sunday 5 June.
As dancers, drummers, crew members, costume and prop makers and puppeteers, the six women are all playing vital roles in a colourful carnival procession by Greater Manchester arts organisation Global Grooves. The carnival makers are the only northern group to produce a section of the Royal celebrations.
Isha, 15, from Sale, is a Kathak dancer, trained by Kajal Sharma, an expert in the classical Indian dance form. Whilst fellow dancer Jane, from Stretford works as a nanny, she is a carnival regular and is accomplished in a number of dance styles, including modern, street dance and Afro-Brazilian.
The only drummer amongst the group, Farheen, 24, from Stretford, is a student teacher and has been playing percussion for over 13 years. She co-founded the young people’s music group Jubacana.
Sonia, 41, originally from India, and living in Stretford for the past 16 years, is a Bollywood dance instructor, but for the Pageant, she is trying her hand at puppeteering.
Janet, 66, from Old Trafford, has been busy behind the scenes for the last few months, including hand-printing fabric for costumes and will form part of the carnival crew on Pageant day. Whilst Francesca, 25, from Stretford, a Zumba instructor, with a background in tap and jazz, will be taking her place alongside the other dancers.
After an intensive rehearsal period at carnival arts centre of excellence The Vale, in Tameside, the women will travel to the capital to represent Trafford in front of the Royal Family. The day’s events will be viewed by a global TV and online audience of hundreds of millions.
Jane said: “I’m born and bred in Manchester, a fully-fledged Manc! I’m mixed heritage white/Jamaican. I’m proud of my heritage and love how Manchester has an eclectic mix of people & cultures. I have always had a love for dance and it will be amazing to celebrate the Jubilee in such a vibrant and fun way which involves a wide and mixed community of people.”
Isha said: “I am proud of my Indian heritage, and actively want to learn more about this rich culture, which Kathak helps me to do. I will be proud to showcase this beautiful, colourful dance form to a wide audience.
“Taking part in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations is a once in a lifetime experience.”
Cllr Liz Patel, Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, said: “I am proud that these six women will be in London to represent Trafford on this fabulous occasion to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Well done to you all for all your amazing efforts and have a brilliant day. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we know you’ll be great.”
Freya Bennett-Nielsen, producer, Global Grooves, said: “Our carnival parade celebrates Greater Manchester in all of its wonderful diversity and shines a light on the cultural exchanges that take place when people collaborate with others who have vastly different experiences, ideas and ways of living. We are proud to be taking some of Trafford’s finest down to London and absolutely know they will do us proud in front of the eyes of the world.”
Kirsty Connell, network coordinator, Greater Manchester Arts, which is supporting Global Grooves to take the young people to London, said: “The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant offers a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the talent we have here in Greater Manchester. We’re really pleased to be able to support Global Grooves in ensuring that all of Greater Manchester is represented.”
Global Grooves’ colourful carnival influenced spectacle, called A Sharing of Gifts, draws inspiration from across the Commonwealth, including the Caribbean, Africa and the Indian subcontinent. It will also feature readily recognisable music, fashion and dance influences from closer to home.
At the head of the promenading entourage will be a glorious carnival queen in her own chariot, played by drag artist Cheddar Gorgeous. Following behind will be four giant walkabout puppets, a 100-strong young people’s carnival music group, 50 lavishly costumed dancers and a sea of giant flag bearers.
The parade will wind its way through the streets of Westminster and along the Mall, past Buckingham Palace, using carnival, dance, music, circus and street theatre to tell the story of HRH’s record 70-year-long reign.
The pageant will be one of the final events across a four day bank holiday weekend 2-5 June.
Since 2003, Global Grooves has inspired people all over the globe to take part in carnival-style events, working across Greater Manchester as well as in Gambia, Brazil, New Zealand, Singapore, and Trinidad & Tobago. In 2021, Global Grooves launched the Northern Carnival Centre of Excellence within The Vale arts centre in Mossley, Tameside.