Erregelak Dance Leaders' Summit 2011
Yes, there's a good, better and best when it comes to most things in life, including Basque dance. And we can all take advantage of some pointers don't you think? "Erregelak" in Basque means guidelines, and that applies to Basque folk dance because we have inherited a long-standing dance tradition that we want to make sure endures.
This workshop was for all dance leaders--current and potential--of all dance age groups. Unlike our regular workshops to learn dancing; it was a weekend summit (just once in one place--to get us together) for interested dance leaders (of various age dance groups) for discussions of what it takes to teach dance and run a dance group well.
Bakersfield: John Goyenetche, Boise: Nick & Izar Bicandi, Chino: John Ysursa, Elko: Janet & Josette Iribarne; Teresa Franzoia, Gardnerville: Becky Sarratea-Murphy, Homedale: Gloria Lejardi, Los Banos: Ann Erreca & Andree Soares, Reno: Lisa and Enrike Corcostegui, Salt Lake City: Cirbie Lee, San Francisco: Valerie Arrechea & Lisa Etchepare
Workshop Guest Speaker: Oier Araolaza
Oier is a long-time dance instructor, anthropologist and the creator and webmaster of dantzan.com.
The 5 P's of a Basque Dance Group
Preparation: Research and learning the dances including the varied styles from one group of dances to another; preparing costumes
Practice: there is limited time when dancers are gathered: how can you best maximize that time?
Presentation: Staging, music, lighting (when applicable) and announcing the dances because the meaning of Basque folk dance is not necessarily self-evident.
Promotion: This includes fund-raising, facilitating contacts for potential performances and getting/keeping dancers involved.
Purpose: Keeping Basque culture alive via dance is an easy go-to reason, but how about something more specifically? How exactly through dance, and what kind of Basque dance: more-so traditional or innovative?
Oier's statement: "I think it is very important to ask some basic questions about the activity we are developing. These are questions we ask ourselves, those of us who are dedicated to traditional dancing, but in the case of Basque-Americans it has a greater importance because it is an activity that is unknown for many of your neighbors and friends.
The central question for us is: Why we do Basque dance? Why commit to traditional dance. Dancing gives us pleasure, that's true, but if you only seek pleasure the range of options is very broad, and there are other forms of dance that are more widespread and popular in our society.
Exploring answers to these questions will help us on our journey. It will help us to address other specific issues that are common in the path of a dantzari: Should I change this dance? Why is so important to properly learn this dance? Could I remake it as I please? How should I dress to dance these dances?
Clarity about our motivation to develop this activity will allow us to refine our endeavor; i.e., mark the objectives, define the type of activities we promote, and schedule our work in that direction. In short, how to better manage the... Preparation, practice, presentation, promotion
During this process it is important to know some of the concepts that we will encounter along the way, and hopefully avoid problems that arise because of ignorance or misunderstanding of their meaning. What is tradition? What is it that turns a general dance into one that endures generations and becomes traditional? What is folklore? What is to be Basque? How do these concepts determine our activity?
I think it is very important to think about these concepts and know what has been said about them, to put our thinking and our work in an updated mode. Often in the field of Basque dance, we repeat the same old lines, like parrots,without taking the time to think about what are we saying.
But it is not just all serious work. We'll have some fun too because dance and their stories are about laughs. We'll also talk about what dancers find entertaining while interesting and suggestive.
Hands on instruction with Oier, dancing with Ann Erreca (Los Banos, CA )