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Making Caribbean DanceContinuity and Creativity in Island Cultures$
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Susanna Sloat

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813034676

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813034676.001.0001

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Bele and Quadrille

Bele and Quadrille

African and European Dimensions in the Traditional Dances of Dominica, West Indies

(p.227) 16 Bele and Quadrille
Making Caribbean Dance
Janet Wason
University Press of Florida

In 1986 Janet Wason was asked to spend six months on the island of Dominica to research, report on, and video its dances. Here she concentrates on two genres she studied intensively, the African-descended bele and the European-derived quadrille, though both, she shows, have absorbed influences from the other continent. Wason gives a brief history of 19th century European social dance, discusses Africanist characteristics of dance, and pays meticulous attention to what is African and what is European about the dances. She revisits them in vibrant detail, from the instruments used in bele, to the songs of the chantwelle, to the steps and the way the dancer leads the drummer. She is equally vivid on quadrille, its figures--including malengé, and its accompanying jing-ping band. In both, people on Dominica manifest their personal expressivity, called “vri” or “making style.”

Keywords:   Janet Wason, Dominica, dances of Dominica, bele, quadrille, chantwelle, jing-ping band, vri, malengé

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