Episode 1
Abolition of slavery May 22, 1848
Passage of BOW’T TRAIL December 29, 2015 to February 2, 2016
400 day countdown - Episode 1 Réziztans Matnik (resistance of Martinique) - Released in September 2016

After 35 days, 23 interviews, Bèlè events, seminars and workshops with the community, and the first re-creation of the BOW'T project; discover the outstanding citizens committed to promoting Martinique
Bèlè culture. In the meantime, the team has a message for you!
Culture Bèlè

Bèlè Culture* (Kalennda-bèlè) is a philosophy, a way of life, and the manifestation of resistance inherited from deported and enslaved Africans in Martinique; specifically: the Nèg Marons.

Not limited by artistic endeavors alone, it forges the essence of the Martinique identity by exploring the history, memory and several prominent social contexts (ex. in the songs). The strength of the culture rests with its intergenerational transmission, oral tradition and cross-cultural experience. Today, we can recognize the culture through its rhythms (Bèlè Gwan, Belia ) exposed through dance, song and rhythm. At the heart of Bèlè, we find the Tibwa.  Bèlè is experienced in classroom discussions, at the shows, but the fertile ground for learning is really the exchange with the wise and respected elders at the Sware Bèlè events. These nights were formerly organized by citizens, but are now promoted by associations campaigning for the preservation of the culture.

Note that Bèlè is also found in Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, and Trinidad-Tobago.

 * This definition of Bèlè is based on the interviews conducted with elders, as well as selected texts. We invite you to continue your research in order to better grasp the essence of Bèlè.

  • Bwatè: tibwa player
  • Chantè (the vwa Douvan): singer
  • Danmyé (Ladja): struggle, Martinique martial art performed in a defined combat zone. Like the bèlè, it is accompanied rhythmically (drum, call-response)
  • Dansè: dancer
  • Lawonn: the bèlè circle, the space defined for dancing and where energy circulates
  • Kadans: energy
  • Répondé (lavwa déyé): the choir that responds
  • Swaré bèlè: bélé evenings, gathering of citizens in a particular place
  • Tambouyé: drum language expert - drummer
  • Tambou bèlè: bèlè drum designed from a of rum barrel
  • Tibwa: ti-bois (kindling) designed from tree roots; mark the rhythm behind of tambou bèlè
Interviews The cultural ambassadors

Les trois filles

Activity : Percussionistes
Country : Martinique
Status : The elders

Quo cognito Constantius ultra mortalem modum exarsit ac nequo casu idem Gallus de futuris incertus agitare quaedam.


Activity : Sculpteur
Country : Martinique
Status : The elders

Quo cognito Constantius ultra mortalem modum exarsit ac nequo casu idem Gallus


Activity : Chanteur
Country : Martinique
Status : The elders

Quo cognito Constantius ultra mortalem modum exarsit ac nequo casu idem Gallus

Marcel Rapon

Activity : Poet and founder of Karisko
Country : Martinique
Status : The elders

Aboard the Kanawa (Native American canoe), Marcel Rapon shares the story of the first peoples of Martinique, the importance of nature, solidarity and rhythm used to move the boat.

<video only in french for the moment>

Dartagnan Laport

Activity : Drum artisan
Country : Martinique
Status : The elders

The reputation of the Laport family is well established, with over 80 years’ experience in producing drums for the greatest musicians of Martinique! Mr. Laport shares one of the stages of construction of the Bèlè drum, as well as the socio-political issues that concern its existence; a tradition that was traditionally passed from father to son.
(video only in french for the moment)

Outreach activities Seminars and conferences

Children speak

Pays : Martinique
Type : Dance workshop

During her residency at the Maison Rouge - Maison des Arts (Christiane Emmanuel’s Company) Rhodnie Desir had the opportunity to meet young people from Solanges Londas School in Terre Sainville neighbourhood. Together they created and improvised on the theme of deportation in an engaging and educational session.

<video only in french for the moment>

Cultural movement

Pays : Martinique
Type : Dance workshop

From Haiti to Martinique, Rhodnie Desir offers a Haitian-contemporary dance workshop for professionals in the AM4-MI ME MANMAY MATNIK,, an association that is dedicated to the research, transmission, development and dissemination of Danmyé-Kalennda-bèlè culture. A great opportunity to learn through the exchange between these two cultures that  have so much in common!