Bèlè – Dominica’s Traditional Dance

Bèlè Dances

Bèlè originated from festivals associated with mating and fertility. The Tambou “drum” is constructed using a small barrel or a hollow trunk with goat skin stretched across and pins stuck into the string to give it a ringing sound. Three types of Bèlè are practiced in Dominica; Bèlè pitchee, Bèlè soute, and Bèlè wond, each with their own specific movements, songs and beats. The dance is done by following the steps and drumbeats. Two players beat the tambou bèlè simultaneously. The lead drummer plays according to the dancers’ footwork whilst the other player called the boula plays a steady based rhythm.

The chantuelle who is lead singer has the strong voice, and the lavway (the choir) responds to the call of the chantuelle. They dance in a specific pattern. Bèlè is widely known and appreciated in Dominica. During the eighteenth century it was performed under a tree on rare occasions. Today, nonetheless, it is not so popular as before. It resurfaces during the independence celebrations.