The Basque Dances

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The Basque country is obviously a place where a lot of traditions are alive. A visit to a local festival is enough to make you evaluate how much people enjoy their customs and that eventually these are the links that bond people together and keep the Basque identity alive. And since the study of the customs can reveal the secrets of a culture and the dances are a very important part of it, I have decided to make a small research about them.
“The basque, this person who sings and dances on his mountains”
Voltaire´s definition about the Basques reflects their deep love about dance and the fact that there are aproximately 400 distinct basque folk dances, each with it´s own story and significance. Varied according to the style, the purpose, function, and complexity, the majority of them are danced only by men, some only by women and other by both sexes. You can tell a good dancer by how high they jump, their double clicks, how high they kick, and their gracefulness. These skills are reflected on Strabo´s quote about the Basques, who “danced after drinking, alone or in groups, competing… as to who should leap the highest and fall on his knees with the most grace”.
The Basque dances are categorised according to three performance formations: the dances based on the pilgrimage or as they are known “dances of the square”, the spade dances and the finale dances. The first ones are based on the dances that took place at the fairs and whose participation was spontaneous. The spade dances are linked to the memorial or honoring and in some of them sticks are used to simulate the weapons. The finale dances mark the end of a festival or a specific period, such as carnival, and they serve as a climax top the festive debauchery, represending the end of a circle and the beginning of another one.
Therefore, if you are interested in meeting this part of the basque culture, you should feel lucky that you are in Bilbao during the Aste Nagusia, since every day you will have the chance to enjoy a different dance. You just have to memorize some importand hours. From Sunday the 18th until Sunday the 25th at 19:00 in Plaza Nueva a different local dance group is presending a different dance and at 20:00 you can test your dancing skills and join the dancers and the locals in Romería and Baile de la Era
On Wednesday you can join Instituto Hemingway´s cultural excursion to Plaza Nueva and enjoy the performace of the dancing group “Salbatzaile” at 18:30.
See you there!




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