Aurresku: Bizkaia Style

These dances are more recent in origin as developed by Segundo Olaeta Mugartegui, and they have become popular at weddings and other ceremonies.  There are four different tunes and dance variations, all loosely referred as the "Aurresku of honor."

These aurresku variations were developed by Segundo Olaeta Mugartegui (1896-1971) who was the founder of the Olaeta Ballet Company that combined performances of traditional Basque dances with newer creations.  These dances, therefore, remain controversial within the traditional--progressive debate on Basque folk dance.  While some opt to maintain the dance as it was originally formulated (to the extent known), others prefer to recreate or even create new dances; Olaeta belonged to this latter group.

Born in Gernika, Olaeta helped to form the dance group Elai-Alai in 1926, then after the Spanish Civil War he returned from exile to form the Olaeta Ballet company that also toured the United States in 1967.  Others of his dance creations/re-creations included the early popularization (outside of Zuberoa) of the  Maskaradak that he called in Spanish Mascarada suletina. 

Previously in Bizkaia there were no set dances like these; instead a dancer might improvise various steps he knew to the tune.  Olaeta learned a version in Lumo (near Gernika) then improvised on that to develop what today are--more-or-less--fixed versions of these dances.  Many of these have now become fixtures in many communities, and they have been adapted to their dance tradition.

The four variations or distinct dances include:
-Aurrez-aurre (desfioa)

Some define it as a fixed protocol that requires all four of the dances to be performed, but oftentimes just one is done by the performer.

For convenience this set of dances is oftentimes called "Aurresku" which in Basque means first-hand, the first person leading the line or soka (literally rope).  Accordingly, at the end of the soka is the atzeskua ("the last hand").  This term aurresku is problematical because for many it means the same as Soka dantza, and then there are further variations; e.g., gizon-dantza, erregelak, zortzikoa...  Thus aurresku does not necessarily have the same, definite meaning.

The hottest part of the Aurresku debate is not what the steps should be, or if Olaeta's version is correct or not, but whether or not just one part of the larger Soka dantza with its various parts should be taken out of context.  Critics point out that it is not proper to take a dance that stretches back across five centuries, that emphasizes a communal connection (the linked dancers in a line), to instead present an isolated individual performing.  It's a significant shift of focus and symbols. 

Thanks to Oier Araolaza (leading the soka-dantza above) for this information.

So this set of dances brings with it a degree of controvesy.  Some people like them and others not so much.  Each dance group director, and dancer, will have to make their own choice.  


Orson Welles