Chapter

Bele and Quadrille

Edited by Janet Wason

in Making Caribbean Dance

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780813034676
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813046303 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813034676.003.0016
Bele and Quadrille

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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

Chapter.  6857 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Dance

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