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President: Denis HUBER

Co-President: Nathalie VERNEAU

Vice-President: Ellen FOURNIER

Treasurer: Catherine GUERRERO

Executive Secretary: Renée MORITZ

Elected Members: Keltoum BELAID, Alla HEITZ, Janis SYMONS


AGORA - Office A1.09V
+33(0)3 88 41 32 66



Du lundi au vendredi :

- de 9h30 à 12h30

- 14h00 à 17h00.

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Caribbean dances

Written written the 21/06/2012

 Caribbean dance (traditional and modern)

This is an introductory course to West Indian traditional dances. The session (Fridays, 12.15-13.15) begins with a progressive warm-up to get into condition, followed by 1 – 2 dance combinations based on different styles of traditional dances from Guadeloupe and Martinique. It pleasantly combines fitness, cardio-training, anti-stress and flexibility training, while enjoying yourselves and learning more about caribbean culture.

The dances can be performed on a rapid rhythm or slowly in a mastered manner, allowing to combine cardio-training, anti-stress and flexibility.

- Workshops to be organised during the year, accompanied (live) by drums.

- All levels.

Members of the group who so wish may take part in public performances for charity, cultural or festive events. Last year, the group took part in several events (charity event for a Burkina Faso health centre, Centre Culturel Fossé des 13 – Women international Day, Meinau, Tour du Monde culinaire Humanis (Orangerie) - Closing event (Cheval Blanc, Schiltigheim) 20th anniversary of CARES (association of foreign residents in Strasbourg), Caribbean party (Council of Europe Amicale).

More on the dances to be taught :

Gwoka is a generic term which refers to the music, songs and dances which are performed accompanied by a drum from Guadeloupe (French West Indies) called gwoka itself. The gwoka finds its main roots in Africa. It is the result of an interethnic mix which dates back from the slavery period at the beginning of the XVIIIth century, when the slaves attempted to re-create their African culture in the Caribbean where their ancestors had been deported to from Africa. From a diverse range of extremely rich music and dances from their respective countries of origin, they forged a tool for communication, a new art, which became necessary to help them cope with a painful daily life.

Gwo ka mixes songs, dances and drums and is performed in a circle, with people gathering around, at the occasion of popular gatherings called « léwoz ».

Recent research in musicology tends to identify the roots of the gwoka in the drums and songs from the west coast of the African continent (Guinea Gulf, former Kingdom of Congo). The Guadeloupian gwoka can be compared to other types of Caribbean music : the bèlè from Martinique, the rumba from Cuba, the rasin music from Haiti.

The Bèlè from Martinique, also tau includes several dance forms and is characterised in its rhytmic by the "tibwa" ( 2 chopsticks) which give the basic tempo and the drum which intervenes to mark the musical highlights and to introduce improvised drumming.

The Biguine dance  is a blend of traditional West Indian dances and European social dances. It first appeared in the West Indies after the Abolition of slavery in 1848. It progressively replaced the traditional dances, which were the only dances the slaves were allowed to do at the time. It first appeared on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, specifically in the town of Saint-Pierre, where musicians mixed sounds of the traditional bèlè and the rhythm of polka to obtain 3 different styles: the biguine society dance, the ballroom biguine, and the street biguine. It then spread to Guadeloupe at the end of the XIXth century and became hugely successful in the 1920s, when the West Indian bourgeoisie ended up to prefering it to the mazurkas and quadrilles they used to favour at the beginning of the century.

In the 1920s, music bands composed of the clarinet as the main instrument, violins, trombones, trumpets, saxs, guitars or banjos, pianos became very popular in parties on both islands.

In the 1930s, the International colonial exhibition led to the increase of West Indian cabarets in Paris, extending the popularity of the biguine to France and beyond.

The biguine shares a lot of common features with New Orleans jazz, and this favoured its spread within France and beyond.

The creole Mazurka takes its origin in Europe. It was adapted by West Indians bands at the beginning of the 20th century. Alexandre Stellio, a famous musicien from Martinique, made this dance well-known in the 20s and included a new figure : "La nuit". The creole mazurka is composed of 2 figures : the "piqué" and "la nuit".

Other dances: the combinations will also include styles from other traditional and modern dances from the West Indies and beyond, incl. Mazurka, quadrille, soca, jazz, African dance, ragga, zouk, kuduro.

Other dances: the combinations will also include styles from other traditional and modern dances from the West Indies and beyond, incl. quadrille, soca, jazz, African dance, ragga, zouk, kuduro.

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