probably is the earliest Creole dance which also has the strongest,
virtually untouched African pattern. It has its roots in mating
and fertility dance rites. There is a single instrument -
the tambou drum - which is properly made of goat skin stretched
over a hallowed tree trunk. The drum rhythm follows the steps
of the single dancer who performs in a circle of spectators
who also form the chorus or lavway for the lead or
chantuelle. Although there are two dancers, only one
usually dances at a time except at the end. The pattern usually
1. Cavalier show physical
style and prowess.
2. Dam shows approval and
3. The Cavalier seeks the
Dam once more.
4. Both dance in the most
In all peices dancing is
directed towards the drum. Bélé is noted for
the deep booming drum very vigorous body movement and steps,
high pitched lavway with short and simple wording.
Its name is said to originate
from the French 'Belle Aire', but because of it strong African
pattern it must have had another earlier African name. Its
present name may be based on the old French word 'aire'
meaning 'threshing platform' which was like the coffee glacee.