correct names to refer to your group's dances and the provinces
they are from lends credibility to your performance. The
following is a list of several Basque dances with descriptions and
Click on each province to hear its
also called Ikurrina
This dance is
literally a "salute to the authorities." In it a flag
(now often the Basque national flag) is carried by one of
the dancers. In
its native location in Bizkaia, the municipal flag was used.
After each dancer, including the one carrying the flag, has saluted the
municipal authorities individually, all dancers fall
onto their right knee and the flag is twirled above them.
According to Etxebarria Goiri, this represents the blessing of the
dancers by the authorities. This dance forms part of the
Dantzari Dantza from the Durango area of Bizkaia. In the
United States, the flag itself is saluted by the dancers and the
dance is referred to as Ikurrina Dantza. More...
Agurra is known as the
Basque dance of honor. Its name is derived from the Basque
greeting, agur. It is sometimes also referred to as Aurresku
because it is performed by the dancer who holds the position
of aurresku (first hand) in the soka dantza. Agurra is
characteristic of the provinces of Hegoalde (the southern
provinces). It is danced in various situations before
someone who is being honored such as political dignitaries,
foreign guests, or the bride and groom at a wedding.
This is one of the dances that forms the Dantzari Dantza of
Bizkaia. Its name indicates that in this particular part the men
dance one by one in front of their fellow dancers. The movements
are performed to a 5/8 rhythm called "zortziko." More...
Eaurtako Neska Dantza
Literally the "girls' dance from Eaurta."
This dance originated in the Salazar Valley of Nafarroa. It
was created by girls who imitated a dance genre that only men were
allowed to perform in public. They danced and sang Axuri
Beltza to entertain themselves as they tended to the cows
outside of the village. The dance was reconstructed by Urbeltz in
the 1960s. More...
Literally, "hand dance" because the participants clap
with themselves and their partners. Esku dantzak belong to a
genre known as "dantza jokuak" or game dances. These
dances usually did not have ritual significance, but rather served
a recreational and social purpose. Esku dantzak provided a
context in which girls and boys could physically interact with one
another in public. The steps are executed to a 2/4 rhythm
like an Arin-arin or Porrusalda. There are "hand
dances" from Olague and Imotz in Nafarroa.
& Arin-arin ,
These popular recreational dances, one with a 3/8 time signature
and the other 2/4, are performed in a suite and are of
uncertain origin. It is probable that they are much more
recent in the Basque repertoire than the ritual dances. Fandango
and Jota (also known as Orripeko), performed to a 3/8
rhythm, are essentially the same dance . Typically the Jota has
one segment of music that is sung and is longer than the other
segments. Each sung verse tells part of a story. The same
steps can be used to dance a Fandango, but each segment of the
music is equal in length. The Fandango or Jota is danced
before the Arin-arin or Porrusalda and is generally slower and
danced closer to the ground. The faster-paced and lighter Arin-arin
and Porrusalda are both danced to a 2/4 rhythm and are
also virtually interchangeable. Like the Jota, the
Porrusalda has sung verses. It is typical to do steps with
turns or to dance with a partner in a manner similar to a waltz on
the sung segments of the music of both the Jota and Porrusalda.
This carnival dance also
known as Lantzeko Zortzikoa is performed every spring in Lantz in
the province of Nafarroa. Dancers wear tall pointy hats
decorated with colored paper and cover their faces with
fabric. They are accompanied by the stuffed giant Miel Otxin
who is burned at the end of the festivities as well as other
characters such as Ziripot. More...
Lapurdiko Makil Txikia
This stick dance forms part of the carnival dances of Lapurdi.
Dancers made their way around the perimeters of town and performed
ritual dances including makil dantzak aimed at banishing evil in
the form of plagues and disease. Dancing and beating the rushes
with sticks in marshy areas where insects breed was intended to
destroy the larvae and cause insects to emerge into the sunlight
where they could not survive. More...
From the French word matelot: sailor or matelote:sailor's
wife. This dance was once a men's dance from Lapurdi.
At some point it in the 20th century it was re-choreographed for
women. Baskets of fish were added as props and it has come
to represent life in a Basque fishing village.
Trenzado de Monteagudo
dance is a Basque version of the Maypole dance. It is from
Monteagudo in the southern part of Nafarroa where it is performed
by men. Unlike some other Basque ribbon dances, this one
braids the ribbons around the pole in two rounds. The Spanish name
of the dance reflects the fact that use of the Basque language has
declined in this part of the Basque Country over the centuries.
See also Zinta Dantza.
Also known in the U.S. as the dance of the fallen warrior, this
dance follows the Makil Joko as part of the Dantzari Dantza in the
towns of Iurreta and Berriz in Bizkaia. It is
performed by 8 dancers. Six of them hold swords. The
remaining two lift one of the dancers in front position over their
heads as the others continue to dance. This dance has represented
Basque nationalism since the late nineteenth century.
However, according to Urbeltz it is not a dance about Basque
warriors, but rather it represents a metaphoric battle against
evil in the form of plague and pestilence and may date back to
Neolithic times. More...
Literally ribbon dance. There are many
versions of ribbon dances or maypole dances in the Basque
Country. Dancers each holding the end of a ribbon affixed to
the top of the pole travel in opposite directions so that they
braid the multicolored ribbons through their movement. Often
these dances form part of set of dances with different types of
implements such as swords, sticks, shields and arches.
According to Urbeltz, the pole represents the tree of life and
each dancer's ribbon an umbilical cord. The dance is a
metaphor for life in which each individual weaves his destiny by
encountering others and avoiding obstacles. At the end of the
Zinta Dantza dancers let go of the ribbon which signifies the
passing from this earthly plane to the next state.
also called (in Gipuzkoa) Jorrai Dantza
The distinguishing feature of
this dance is a large wineskin known as a zagia. One
dancer carries the wineskin on his back and is systematically
beaten by the other dancers who carry sticks or hoes (in Gipuzkoa). According to
Urbeltz, the dancer who carries the wineskin represents the plague
in the form of a locust or grasshopperand its larvae. At the end of the
dance the dancer with the wineskin is taken to the city limits and
thrown out of town by the other dancers. For thousands of
years Basque farmers hoped that by conjuring a symbolic plague and
wiping it out, they would be able to avoid real ones that could
threaten their crops and their very existence. There are versions
of this dance from Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Nafarroa. It originated as an early
spring ritual; its modern context is carnival.