There are many
variations on the theme, but these dances affirm the importance
of communal unity. The transitions or turns at the ends
tie the end of the line to that people do not slip off of the
The Soka Dantza holds special symbolic significance
within Basque society. Until the second third of the 20th
century this dance was enacted regularly in plazas of Basque
towns and villages constituting a ritual of community unity. It
was often led by a town's mayor.
Formerly city officials would participate in this annual city
The word" soka" means rope and the dance takes the form of a
rope or string of individuals linked to one another. The first
and last position in this string are socially significant and
are designated by the words Aurreskularifor the first, and
Azkendarifor the last. The first dancer was also known as the
buruzain , an authority figure who is responsible for the
Juan Antonio Urbeltz
likens the participants to beads on a string: As they pass under
the bridges made by the first and last individuals, the string
is tied into a knot, thereby uniting all of the participants
into a single entity.
In the case that the authority figures that danced first and
last in the string were unable to or did not know how to dance,
it was customary for them to designate a dancer to walk beside
them and dance on their behalf.
There are many variations on this theme
In the last half of the 20th century the Soka Dantza often
became reduced to one of its many components, the dance known as
Erreberentzia or Agurra. In addition, the significance of the
dance underwent a transformation. Instead of the Aurreskulari
being a prominent community figure leading others in a communal
dance, he became a dancer performing the Erreberentzia to pay
homage to a prominent figure. The dance therefore became known
as the "dance of honor".
Text by Lisa Corcostegui, Ph.D.