Maculele – A Stick Fight Dance
Maculelê is an Afro Brazilian dance where a number of people gather in a circle called a roda. In the roda, one or more atabaques positioned at the entrance of the circle. Each person brandishes a pair of long sticks, traditionally made from biriba wood from Brazil.
The sticks, called grimas, traditionally measure 24 inches long by 1 and 1/8 inch thick. As the Maculelê rhythm plays on the atabaque, the people in the circle begin rhythmically striking the sticks together. The leader sings, and the people in the circle respond by singing the chorus of the songs. When the leader gives the signal to begin playing Maculelê, two people enter the circle, and to the rhythm of the atabaque, they begin striking their own and each other’s sticks together. On the first three beats, they strike their own sticks together, making expressive and athletic dance movements, and on each fourth beat, they strike each other’s respective right-hand stick together. This makes for a dance that looks like “mock stick combat”. (Also, traditionally in Maculelê, the players wear dried grass skirts).