Parrots on parade: Cuba St. Carnival float designer Rogelio Carles-Rosas, front left, with carnival dancers Rafael Noel, centre, and Liliya Pezhgorska.

Birds of a flamboyant feather by David Dickens

LATIN style learned on the streets of Panama City and Havana will infuse plenty of colour and flamboyance into Cuba St Carnival's night parade.
Heading Saturday's parade will be a Latin American troupe of 20 women dancers dressed as parakeets, 29 men as toucans, 15 children as little birds, 12 musicians and a float made up to look like a colourful parrot.
The driving force is float and costume designer Rogelio Carles-Rosas, from Panama city, where carnivals last five days and street parades of 100 floats are common.
"I started making floats as a kid. After a parade I would spend weeks building small floats until I had enough for my own parade along the living room.
As a teenager he graduated to making full-sized floats and worked on this popular art form in Panama City for many years
This year's Cuba St Carnival night parade "is a big jump ahead"
"I have been doing floats fo it since 2000. Fifty floats and walking acts is almost as good as a street parade in Panama City."
Each float takes two to three weeks to build and is made of carved layers of painted polystyrene built over frames of timber and reinforcing iron.
Salsa dance teacher Liliya Pezhgorska will dance on the float dressed as a Guacamaya, a colourful tropical parrot. The role has been deviced for her by choreographer Rafael Noel, who learnt his art on the streets of Havana, Cuba.
Preventing the night turning into all-Latin American affair will be a variety of floats and acts including a Chinese New Year float complete with a large dragon, a techno-funk group, the Karori Wildlife Centre group, Footnote Dance, and Tokelauan drummers.
Website created by Rogelio Carles Rosas