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The Catalan-Valencian cultural domain

Group dancing sardanes in Barcelona

Group dancing sardanes in Barcelona
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The sardana (Catalan pronunciation: [sərˈðanə]), plural sardanes, is a type of circle dance typical of Catalonia, Spain. The dance was originally typical from the Empordà region, but started gaining popularity throughout Catalonia during the 20th century.

There are two main types, the original sardana curta (short sardana) style and the more modern sardana llarga (long sardana), which is more popular. Other more unusual sardanes are the sardana de lluïment and the sardana revessa.

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History

The origin of the sardana is not clear. Some say that it was already popular in the 16th century.

What remains undisputed is that the sardana was a popular dance in the Empordà region by the end of the 19th century. Contributing to its mounting popularity by this time were the additions from similarly popular genres such as zarzuela and the popular Italian operas of the time, which increasingly made the sardana a fad dance.[1]

As the rise of the sardana took place, in the context of the Renaixença or newborn Catalan nationalism, the origins of the dance were embellished in order to symbolize a distinct Catalan ethos as to serve Catalan nationalism.[1] Modern choreography was established as late as the end of the 19th century and features slight differences from the original North-Catalonian dance. Pep Ventura's band is credited for stabilizing different variants around a clear 6/8 rhythm and fixing the instrumental ensemble. Though some Iberian and Mediterranean circle dances follow similar patterns, instrumental music for the sardana has achieved a complexity of its own.

Sardana band

Music for the sardana is played by a cobla, a band consisting of 10 wind instruments, double bass and a tamborí (very small drum) played by 11 musicians. The cobla has five woodwind instruments: the flabiol which is a small fipple flute, and the tenora and tible (two of each) which belong to the oboe family. These and the tamborí are typical Catalan instruments. The brass instruments include: two trumpets, two fiscorns (a type of saxhorn created by Adolph Sax during the 19th century), and a trombone (usually a valve trombone). The double bass was traditionally a three-stringed one, but now the part is usually written for and played on the modern (four-stringed) instrument.

In Spanish and French Catalonia about one hundred and thirty coblas are active, most of which are amateur orchestras. Outside Catalonia there is one more cobla: Cobla La Principal d'Amsterdam.

Sardana dance

The music written for the sardana dance is also called a sardana (pl. sardanes), and is usually in two sections (tirades), each of which may be repeated in various ways to form the music for the complete dance. There is always first a simple, free introduction introit played by the flabiol, concluded by a drum tap of the tamborí, which leads immediately into the dance. The dance tempo is usually a steady metronome beat of about 112, in a 2/4 and/or 6/8 rhythm.

The first tirada played by the band is called the curts ("shorts", length between 20 and 50 measures) and has a two-measure pattern danced with the arms down: (point-step-step-cross) to the right followed by (point-step-step-cross) to the left. The second tirada is called the llargs ("longs", 50 - 100 measures) and has a four-measure pattern danced with the arms up, and this may become more lively.

The number of measures in the curts and llargs, called the tiratge or "run", is important to the players, and may be indicated before the start of the dance (e.g. a "run" shown as 25x79 indicates 25 measures of curts and 79 measures of llargs) in order to terminate the tirada correctly with the correct foot, though a method commonly used is to count the measures in the first tirada and not dance until the second has begun. There is a pattern of tirades danced, which may be curts, curts, llargs, llargs, curts, curts, llargs, llargs; a two-measure break called contrapunt; llargs; contrapunt; llargs.

A dancer is called a sardanista (pl. sardanistes).

As a relatively slow, non-performance dance, the sardana does not require special fitness. The dance circle can be opened to a highly variable number of dancers. When danced in the streets and town squares, small circles of dancers can be seen to form and grow: often passers-by join in, leaving their bags in the center of the circle. The dancers are alternate men and women, and care must be taken by those joining not to split partners. These are open circles, called rotllanes obertes. Another kind of circle may be formed by members of organised sardana clubs called colles, and each colla may wear its own costume.

Many sardanes have sung versions, but mostly instrumental versions are used for dancing. Recordings of sardanes or sardanes played in concert usually contain the introit, two curts and two llargs. Sardanes may be recorded for dancing, having all the entrades in order. Often sardanes are written for special occasions or to commemorate people.

Composers of sardanes

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Origin of the sardana [in Spanish]

External links

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