Iruñeko Ezpata Dantza

There are Basque folk dances that originated centuries ago, and they have been performed nearly annually since then.  But these traditions were not just for our ancestors to create; today possible new traditions are also being created as was the casein september of 2009 when a new dance tradition was born. 

There have been dancers, and dance groups too, but there are not too many dances that originated in Iruña-Pamplona.  That is what the local dance group "Duguna" wanted to remedy.  They were assisted in this endeavor by members of Ikerfolk of Donostia.  The new dance debuted at the 2009 San Fermin Txiki celebration (the main feast of San Fermin in July is internationally known, so this one is more for the locals).  

The basis of this new creation is a historical document from 1556 that stated that unique dances were prepared for an event in Iruña.  But this was not a recovery of a lost dance tradition, because there was only a mention in passing of the implements used and the headgear. 


The Following was adapted from an article by Iñigo Astiz published in Berria on 29 September 2009. To read the original text in Basque click here.

Making Our Own Steps

"Until now, our group has always performed dances from other places," explains Aritz Ibañez, a member of the Duguna dance group, "but we did not get the same strength and identification with the people as local dance groups. People watched the dances, and they even clapped when we finished, of course, but they see them as theirs. That's why, as in other towns with their own dances, we thought that Pamplona also deserved some dances of its own ".

The ones who went first show those who follow how to dance, and in this case too, the members of Duguna have been working on what the previous ones have done. Looking at history. "As we have seen in the archives," says Ibañez, "the dance groups of Pamplona prepared their own dances for special celebrations. The oldest document of this, as we have found, dates from 1556. '

It has not been a work of recovery, however, as there is no evidence of these sword dances of a bygone era. Only notes on the tools and clothing data they used. No steps. Ibañez says that they have "re-created" the dance using these clues. However, it is a new dance based on tradition. XXI. A dance created in the 16th century that takes into account the quality of sword dances in the Basque Country and Europe. XXI. linked to 21st century society, therefore, and therefore, without gender discrimination, girls and boys could be seen dancing on Sundays.

The leader and waiter led the group, with 28 dancers behind them; there were also four captains dancing with small swords, and the band was closed by flag bearers and txistularis. A total of 35 dancers, and several dances included throughout the session: the flag dance, running under the flag, the biribilketa, the various zortzikos, and of course the sword dance. The dancers also organized a structure called Arrosa, crossing wooden swords together around the captain's neck. Thus, reminiscent of the martyrdom of San Fermin, who was said to have died by cutting his throat.

The First Step

The dance began at 11:30 on the Arrotxapeko Bridge, and there were a lot of people there already waiting for the dancers. The procession was followed by the dancers, and the main dance took place in the Town Hall Square, in front of the crowd that had gone to see their own dance. The square was full.

"We are dancers from Pamplona," says Ibañez. We feel like the heirs of the dancers who danced in Pamplona in the sixteenth century, and what we want is for our dances to become the dance of Pamplona. It may be too ambitious, but we have tried to create that kind of impact. " There was no vote on Sunday, of course, but the dancers received a huge round of applause. "Making a dance of our own is not a matter of a year, however," says Ibañez, "and that is why we must continue to work from now on, without rest." They have taken the first step.




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