Dennis Newsome


African Kalenda stick fighting

African stick fighting, or Kalenda, embodies elements of African martial arts, games, and dance.  Originating in the Kongo and known by different names and spellings depending on the country it’s practiced in – such as Palo, Mousondi, Bomba Kalenda, etc. – it is both a fight and a dance.  Some variations are more fight-oriented, some dance-oriented, and some hold religious meaning.  Music is a means of pacing the action; instruments traditionally include a single drum, a fife and a drum ensemble, or a battery of three drums called "Big Drum."  Kalenda has become virtually extinct in the United States and is endangered in the Caribbean.

Dennis Newsome has been practicing Kalenda for almost 40 years.  He practices a very rare style of Kalenda, which uses a longer staff and incorporates more of the fighting aspect of the form.  Dennis has devoted a considerable portion of his life to the study, preservation, and promulgation of this and other African American art forms.

As a current master artist in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program, Dennis will share this rare cultural practice with his young apprentice Shiloh Williams.  This year’s apprenticeship will build upon Dennis and Shiloh’s participation in the Apprenticeship Program in 2013.  Shiloh will increase his ability to improvise within the game, develop more elegance in his execution of Kalenda, and increase his knowledge of the accompanying drum and songs.

 

 

Images

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 Master Kalenda practitioner Dennis Newsome (right) and his apprentice Shiloh Williams
Master Kalenda practitioner Dennis Newsome (right) and his 2013 apprentice Shiloh Williams (Photo courtesy of Dennis Newsome)
Master Kalenda practitioner Dennis Newsome (right) and his 2013 apprentice Shiloh Williams (Photo courtesy of Dennis Newsome)
Master Kalenda practitioner Dennis Newsome (right) and his 2013 apprentice Shiloh Williams (Photo courtesy of Dennis Newsome)
Master Kalenda practitioner Dennis Newsome (right) and his 2013 apprentice Shiloh Williams (Photo courtesy of Dennis Newsome)
Master Kalenda practitioner Dennis Newsome (right) and his 2013 apprentice Shiloh Williams (Photo courtesy of Dennis Newsome)
Master Kalenda practitioner Dennis Newsome (right) and his 2013 apprentice Shiloh Williams (Photo courtesy of Dennis Newsome)
Master Kalenda practitioner Dennis Newsome (right) and his 2013 apprentice Shiloh Williams (Photo courtesy of Dennis Newsome)
Master Kalenda practitioner Dennis Newsome (right) and his apprentice Shiloh Williams

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