The country of Trinidad and Tobago, an island in the southern Caribbean, is known for the lively events of Carnival, an annual celebration of life. Carnival involves dancers moving in circles throughout the villages in Trinidad. The dancers wear elaborate masks and costumes representing different characters and animals related to cultural beliefs of Trinidad. Carnival and its dances are steeped in African and Brazilian cultures.
The Limbo dance, also referred to as the “under the stick” dance, was first created as ritual dance performed at African wakes. It became a popular dance in Trinidad in the late 19th century and is believed to be a re-creation of going down on a slave ship. Slave ships were often very narrow and had low ceilings; therefore slaves needed to have both flexibility and dexterity to navigate through the ship. The limbo dance today involves a limbo dancer moving to a rhythmic beat and dancing under a stick. The dancer cannot knock the stick over or touch it with their body. This step is repeated over and over, with the stick being lowered one notch each time. This continues with all dancers in a group, until there is just one left who hasn't touched the stick, fallen or laid on the floor.
The Calypso is a Caribbean dance performed to traditional Calypso music. The name Calypso comes from the sea nymph who kept Odysseus trapped on her island for seven years. This dance is an interpretation of what a sea nymph would look like if she were trying to entice her prisoner and make him fall in love with her. The dance is similar to the Rumba and is danced to a 32-count beat. A drum is usually used for music and beat. Calypso dance involves rocking side to side, back and forth, twirling, moving hips back and forth, swinging arms, clapping hands and snapping fingers. Movements are repeated over and over several times, until the song is over. The steel drums are often the musical instrument of choice for the Calypso dance.
Kalinda (or Calinda) is a traditional stick-fighting dance that is practised during Trinadian carnivals. The Kalinda dance originated in the 19th century and involves two dancers who pretend to fight and joust with their sticks. They are accompanied by a drummer and a singer called a chantwell. The chantwell's main purpose is to talk trash to the opposing dancer/fighter. Kalinda is also a form of martial arts and is practised in many countries around the world.