History

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Alkartasuna Dantza Taldea was founded in 1976, when some students decided to do a performance in order to make money for their study tour. Besides, all of them were willing to analyze, work on and spread Basque folk and culture. As they needed someone to guide them, Patxi Beitia, who was teaching Basque dances in a sport club, asked them for not only male members but also for female ones and he helped them.

It has been a long time since that small group of teenagers decided to make money for their study tour, and their consistency has made this group so big.

Alkartasuna Dantza Taldea could not have continued forward if the citizens and the city council of Bermeo had not helped to let our folk grow up. In fact, even though many years before Gil Orbe and Iñaki Larrinaga tried to develop and maintain our folk, there are not many historical facts about our village’s folk.

The oldest hint that shows that our village enjoyed of a group of dancers was found in a church, in a paper written in 1662 where some of their performances are commented.

Taking into account these documents written in the 17th century, it is known that there was a dance group which took part in different exhibitions in the village as well as in other surrounding villages.

However, at that time, that Basque dance group had many difficulties in order to grow and progress. Not only did the church institution obstruct its development, but other factors also made their way difficult. In fact, at that time, dances from Valencia succeeded in the village and citizens lost interest toward Basque dances. Nevertheless, dancers kept practicing and spreading folk dances.

So, it is clear that the Basque Country has always had, to a greater or lesser extent, an interest in its folk and culture. In fact, these dance groups were a model for other cultural groups due to their persistence and strength in many occasions.

Other groups who were created later were the ones that most influenced to future groups, because they analyzed, spread, worked on developing and even revived Basque culture and folk. Furthermore, these groups were one of the most important tools that strengthened the feeling of belonging of the Basque society. And this also was the main aim of Alkartasuna Dantza Taldea when it was founded.

In those early years the lack of a suitable place to carry out the rehearsals (inside a candy store or in the local schools) and the reduced budget made each dancer have to look for and buy their own clothes. Apart from that, thanks to the music band of the village “Bermeoko Fanfarrea” the dance group filled the lack of musicians. Those obstacles were not enough to keep apart the roots of our culture, and the desire of the dancers.

Actually, all those obstacles reinforced the group’s spirit, and the thought that “no one is superior to another” started to show results. After the early exhausting ten years, the group resulted to be even stronger than at the beginning and they started thinking of new projects.

Changes were done in the internal structure and the new statutes made a deep change in the group. Dancers worked very hard to show new different dances, and asked musicians for their collaboration in the group.

The first International Folklore Festival was held in 1986 and Cataluña and Galicia were invited. Actually, “Alkartasuna Dantza Taldea” is not only devoted to show the folklore of our country, Basque Country, but it is also concerned to show international folklore. Until today, 23 different groups had the opportunity to show their folklore in our village, Bermeo.

In the same way, in 1987 thanks to the different contacts our group made along their folklore festivals, the group was also able to show our folklore around Europe and this fact made the name of Bermeo and Alkartasuna well known around the continent.

In 1994 the group organized an important event in the village, Bizkaiko Dantzari Eguna, in which all the groups from the province came to show the traditional Basque dances. The event brought together 3.000 dancers and more than 10.000 spectators. In addition to that event, several exhibitions, conferences and events were organized in Bermeo as well as in the nearest villages, always with help of the groups of the region and the province congress.

It can be said that in the second half of the 90th century, the group achieved a significant level of maturity, and faced two challenges. On the one hand, the necessity to defend the tradition of the Basque dances. For instance, since then, every year one of our dancers performs the traditional honorary dance, called ohorezko aurreskua on one of the biggest days of our village. On the other hand, we also had the necessity to adapt our shows to the citizen’s tastes.

Although it has been a long way, our group has the desire for an even longer future. In fact, we are confident that our future is safe in the children’s foot. Besides, we cannot forget that dance is nothing without music, and to keep the old dances, the responsibility is under the whole society.

The 2001 was an important year for the group, we celebrated our 25th anniversary and many events were organized. Besides, we got the Hegaluze prize in the same year, due to our effort to expand our culture and make the name of Bermeo known around Europe. Nowadays, Alkartasuna is composed of more than 90 children under the age of 14 and 50 dancers and musicians over the age of 14.