What is the name of the traditional dance of Catalonia?
The precise origin of the Sardana is a mystery and although the earliest written record of the dance dates back to the 16th century, many believe it is a much more ancient dance, with roots back in antiquity. In the 19th century, Catalan composer Pep Ventura established the basis of what is the modern-day Sardana which coincided with the new movement of Catalan national identity known as the “Renaixença”. This Romantic revival of the Catalan language and culture spread across art, theatre, dance, music, and literature.
The Sardana is a relatively easy dance to perform in terms of physical strength – making it accessible to people of all ages and abilities – yet the rules governing the choreography are somehow sophisticated. The basis for the dance is the division into two sections which are known as “tirades” in Catalan and which can be either short (“curts”) or long (“llargs”). The “curts “are performed with arms down by the side while the “llargs” are performed with arms at shoulder length, as it can be seen in the photo. Sardana requires a specific type of musical accompaniment performed by a type of band called a “cobla” which consists of 11 members playing some 12 instruments. Five of these instruments are wind instruments, with the addition of double bass and a small drum known as “tamboril".
The Sardana is considered by Catalans to be their "traditional dance" and a powerful symbol of unity and identity, which captures their spirit.