Carnival and Dance
This section looks at the power dance carries as well how it representative of rebellion though the loudness of the Kalinda.
Those who enslaved others tried to strip West Indian people of their culture, heritage, and ancestry through isolation, mental and physical abuse, and erasure. Performance is a means of story-telling used to rebel against the mere idea of enslavement, because performance and oral tradition go hand and hand through their use of song, dance, and masquerade.
Caption: “Gold Coast Music” illustrated many instruments that came from West Africa and West African Culture shaped Carnival, as some enslaved people came from West Africa (Liverpool 1998)
Citation: "Gold Coast Music", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed March 9, 2021, http://www.slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/2108
For example, the Kalinda (as known in Trinidad) or stick fighting (as known in Dominica) were dances accompanied by rebellious war songs known as Canboulay songs. These songs spoke to the freedom enslaved people dreamt of and the dances resembled rituals reminiscent of the past. Kalinda brought about the use of steel pans and drums in Carnival today. Part of the goal is to gain recognition, attention, and power through movement and loudness. The Kalinda cannot be ignored, and it demands notice. This loudness contrasts the stealth nature of Carnival because compared to masking rituals enslaved people were outwardly rebelling against these systems. The goal here is to gain attention, using loudness to be seen, an open acknowledgment of the culture the enslaved were supposed to forget. This shows the many multifaceted aspects of Carnival and complicates the understanding of Carnival as being one singular celebration, but rather a collection of celebrations.
The steel pan played a large role in defining Carnival’s history in both the past as well as the present. Despite Brigden’s failure to depict the real authenticity of dance in “Dance at the Plantation”, he managed to portray or speak to the importance of the act of dancing in both African and Caribbean culture. Dance was a critical part of their livelihood, an act that not only recalled past memory, but also something that brought about hope. Today, dance still carries a lot of significance in Afro-Caribbean celebrations.
"Dance at Plantation, Trinidad, 1836", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed February 23, 2021, http://slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/988
"Stick Fighting, Dominica, West Indies, 1779 ", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora. http://www.slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/1024
"Gold Coast Music", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed March 9, 2021, http://www.slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/2108
Further Readings :
Daniel, Yvonne. Caribbean and Atlantic Diaspora Dance : Igniting Citizenship, 2011.