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Olentzero Pamplona / Iruña (#36). 24/12/2007. Photo: Xabier Martinez Alava.

OLENTZERO GOING ON

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Monday 15th of December, 2008

In the 50s, same as seeded land after the turn over, were fertile years for the seed of identity in a society that still felt the aftermath of the civil war.

The banning of political activity excepting that of the regimen, made that many young people saw in culture their expression channel for their claims.

People are used to read between the lines and each one sees what they wish to see out of a cultural event.

In this particular context, many Basque dance groups-the same we see our days on stage- are born never too far from the political circumstances of the time. Out of them The Olentzero of San Antonio is also born. Is therefore not surprising, the relation between one and the other. The townhall’s Dantzaris, Oberena, Muthiko Alaiak, are names that come out often in press cut outs.

We should not forget the role played by Ortzadar Folklore Elkartea in the organizing of de San Antonio in some other time.

Some 12 years ago, Olentzero organizers thought about the CORTEJO of Olentzero dividing it into 3 parts: one purely festive with music, dances…second one with animals exhibition and the last one which is more ritual with choirs, characters and ioaldunak*. For the first one we decided to ask for collaboration of the groups of danzariak* of Pamplona/Iruña to take part and Duguna, Muthiko Alaiak and Oberena have regularly attended. On top of that we’ve been having some sporadic collaboration from other groups.

For Olentzero organization, our intention has always been to attract people who could apport something to the Basque culture. From folk to the tradition of Olentgzero so engraved in Pamplona/Iruña. For us, the dantzariak, components of these dance groups, are people who live dance in a different manner. They are usedshowing in public their abilities and therefore, forget about feeling shy about it like so many of us who feel ashamed to dance badly in front of other people.

Dantzariak are able to create a link between themselves and the public observing them. So that was our spirit, our aim, to invite more dantzariak more than dancing groups. Personally speaking, would be thankful of dantzariak who are closer to the spectators. Close for people who are dancing, singing and drinking (why not), enjoy, mingle with people, dance valses, eskotixak, jotak, arin arin, dance, all together holding hands…invite to participate constantly to people who are merley observing…but I understand is difficult for a danzari to forget suddenly his own name and forget as well what has been training to do so many times. Apart from that, they have my sincere appreciation for the simple fact that they are there year after year, doing what they best know.Nevertheless, we need to understand the concept we have of a group of dance to understand their participation in Olentzero. I do not understand a group of that kind simply to prepare for events in which they dance exquisitely well for some spectators. Nor to illustrate pics of a moment and a place in a particular point of time. I don’t understand either those who are a group of friends who use the dance for some interesting reason for private parties. I do believe in the group of dance as an important triggering agent, creator, producer of folklore. Collecting from the past but with the most important role to transform the atemporal what was born in a particular point in time and not only to recuperate or illustrate a repertoire of dances.

More important objective is yet to train people who learn with them to understand our country from its own dances, country, culture and have the aim to represent something much bigger and important. In other words, to train dantzariak with capital letters.

The group of dances, take the role that in other times took the towns or village’s square as a training center for dancing and in this society where dancing has lost its practical function, look for places for the exercising of the same. That is where also Olentzero places itself. Olentzero is not only one who reproduces and event but the agent who triggers it actively.

That is what we would like to happen but is easy to fall into the dichotomy to ask dantzariak not to be the show they are in an Olentzero that is taking, year after year more importance. Moreover I am not so sure what exactly modern society demands: “ I don’t want to participate, I want to be a mere observer. I feel shy. Aren’t they danzariak? They should be the dancers”.Nevertheless, we need to understand the concept we have of a group of dance to understand their participation in Olentzero. I do not understand a group of that kind simply to prepare for events in which they dance exquisitely well for some spectators. Nor to illustrate pics of a moment and a place in a particular point of time. I don’t understand either those who are a group of friends who use the dance for some interesting reason for private parties. I do believe in the group of dance as an important triggering agent, creator, producer of folklore. Collecting from the past but with the most important role to transform the atemporal what was born in a particular point in time and not only to recuperate or illustrate a repertoire of dances.

More important objective is yet to train people who learn with them to understand our country from its own dances, country, culture and have the aim to represent something much bigger and important. In other words, to train dantzariak with capital letters.

The group of dances, take the role that in other times took the towns or village’s square as a training center for dancing and in this society where dancing has lost its practical function, look for places for the exercising of the same. That is where also Olentzero places itself. Olentzero is not only one who reproduces and event but the agent who triggers it actively.

That is what we would like to happen but is easy to fall into the dichotomy to ask dantzariak not to be the show they are in an Olentzero that is taking, year after year more importance. Moreover I am not so sure what exactly modern society demands: “ I don’t want to participate, I want to be a mere observer. I feel shy. Aren’t they danzariak? They should be the dancers”.I refuse to conform. We can all dance, even the ones not belonging to a group, we can also all sing and therefore we all sing the “Horra, horra when the choir of Muthiko starts the well know Olentzero song. And, to finish with, I believe sincerely that to make that idea reach everybody, it’s the most important role a dancing group can achieve inside and outside Olentzero parade.

15 December 2008

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