The Sardana is a type of circle dance unique to Catalonia which is believed to have originated from the Empordà region (north east of Catalonia) from where it spread to the rest of Catalonia during the nineteenth century. Despite its origin is not being completely clear – some argue it already existed in the sixteenth century – it is sure the rise of the dance took place during the Renaixença, a movement that’s main objective was to recover Catalan’s traditions and language.
After being prohibited during the military dictatorship (1939 – 1975), in 2010 the Catalan Government added the Sardana to Catalonia’s Festivities Heritage catalogue, declaring it a festivity of national interest.
The music is played by a “cobla” generally comprised of 12 instruments, four of them traditional Catalan instruments (Tenora, Tible, Flabiol and Tamborí), and it usually has two sections – “curts” and “llargs”- with different tempos that will be repeated regularly to form the pattern for the complete dance. It is also important to mention that the Sardana doesn’t usually have vocals even though it is possible to add a chorus to the music.
The dance begins by forming a circle – preferably alternating women with men – with everyone holding hands. During the “curts” section or “short steps” the circle will move with everyone’s arms down, using a “point-step-step-cross” first to the right and after to the left. The “llargs” (“long steps”) will follow the same pattern except for the arm position, which will be raised to shoulder level.
The Sardana is an open dance which can be joined by anyone that wants to take part. There are no exclusions of any type as the main objective is to have fun and enjoy it. You will be surprised by how helpful dancers will be when trying to teach you! Every weekend you can find a group of “Sardanistes” dancing just in front of Barcelona’s Cathedral, at Pla de la Seu square. Give it a try!