Tag Archives | Bélé

A Swaré Bèlè

Yesterday we met bèlè, an invigorating African-inspired dance found in Martinique. If, on your travels to Martinique you are lucky enough to be invited to a “Swaré Bèlè” (a Bèlè party), ACCEPT THAT INVITATION! You will be able to see or join “la ronde Bèlè” (the Bèlè circle) that will have “La vwa” (the singer and the backup singers called “Le répondè”), lé tambouyé (2 drummers), “Le bwatè” (someone setting the rhythm, hitting the back of the drum with two sticks).

The Beauty of Bèlè

In class this week we try dancing to Bèlè, form of West African-inspired music and dancing in Martinique that became an essential part of the working and family life of African slaves on the island. A traditional bèlè song starts with a call and response section led by a vocalist singing in Antillean Creole. After that comes a rhythmic section featuring the Ti-Bwa, two sticks that play on the back of a tambour, a goblet drum with a goatskin head, making music for an exuberant dance. In our classroom, the Twi-Bwa may be two pencils and our tambour may be a textbook, but our bèlè is beautiful.