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SOKA DANTZA: "Rope Dance"

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 chain.

Related link:  Euskomedia.org   Basque Bricolage Project 

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 ritual.

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 others.

Onati version

Basque folklorist 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.