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Calinda, dance of the Negroes in America, watercolour by François Aimé Louis Dumoulin
Calinda, dance of the Negroes in America, watercolour by François Aimé Louis Dumoulin
Also known as Kalinda, kalenda
Focus Stick Fighting
Country of origin  Trinidad and Tobago

Calinda (also spelled kalinda or kalenda) is a martial art, as well as kind of folk music and dance in the Caribbean which arose in the 1720s.

Calinda is the French spelling, and the Spanish equivalent is calenda.


Calinda is a kind of stick-fighting commonly seen practiced during Trinidad & Tobago Carnival.[1] French planters with their slaves, free coloreds and mulattos from neighboring islands of Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica migrated to the Trinidad during the Cedula of Population. Carnival had arrived with the French; slaves who could not participate formed a parallel celebration called canboulay, the precursor for Trinidad's Carnival. After Emancipation of slavery, a lead vocalist or chantwell (chantuelle) would sing call-and-response chants called lavways lionizing and cheering on champion stickfighters. There, Carnival songs are considered to be derived from calinda chants and "lavways". This form of music gradually evolved into the modern calypso.

Though it is more commonly practiced as a dance because of the violent outcome of stick-fighting, its roots are still that of a martial art originating from Kingdom of Kongo, and stick-fights still occur in Trinidad. They also have been formalised into annual Carnival competitions.[2]

Elsewhere in the Caribbean[edit]

It s also practiced in other parts of the Caribbean, such as Martinique.[3] or Guadeloupe (under various names such as l'agya, damaye and mayolé)[4]

Kalenda is one name assigned to an Afro-Caribbean form of stick fighting as practiced in Haiti and entering the United States through the port city of New Orleans.[5][clarification needed] The well-known Cajun song "Allons danser Colinda" is about a Cajun boy asking a girl named Colinda to do a risqué dance with him; probably derived from the Calinda dance which was reported to have been performed in New Orleans by Afro-Caribbean slaves brought to Louisiana.

Similar forms of this martial art exist elsewhere in the Caribbean. For example, in Barbados it is commonly referred to as "stick-licking" or "stick science".'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shane K. Bernard and Julia Girouard, "'Colinda': Mysterious Origins of a Cajun Folksong," Journal of Folklore Research 29 (January–April 1992: 37-52.
  2. ^ Trinidad Sweet - The People, Their Culture, Their Island - Bird, Adrian Curtis (1992) Inprint Publications LTD, Port of Spain, Trinidad, W.I.
  3. ^ "Tangled Roots: Kalenda and Other Neo-African Dances in the Circum-Caribbean" by Julian Gerstin, New West Indies Guide 78 (1&2): 5-41 (2004)
  4. ^ Lameca : kalinda
  5. ^ Kalenda by Dennis Newsome at

External links[edit]