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Sardana, the national dance of Catalonia

The sardana is the name of the popular catalan dance and the national ball of Catalonia which everyone is invited freely to participate without shame, you just need to move your feet and put your hands up in the air.

The dance should have at least 1 couple so 2 persons minimum, each one has to hold the hand of the other forming a circle then they have to dance at the rhythm of the music performed by the popular orchestra called cobla.

If there are more couples, for instance 3, they have to hold the hand alternating man woman man woman… until to create a circle. It exists 8 different types but the most populars, that you can see and participate during a

traditional festival, are the short and long sardanas, although, nowadays, we can find a sardana mixing both.

Official documents have been found in the 16th century mentioning the first time the name but according to specialists, the dance has been born earlier, when ??? No one knows but it wasn’t before the 19th century that a full description (official steps and music) will be found with the creation of the contrapàs (counterstep).

During the Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship, it was forbidden to practice it and not before 1945, but especially from the beginning of the 60’s, that catalans will get back the sardana with concerts, competitions, new associations...

Talking about competition, the "bàsic d'honor" is the national competition of Catalonia celebrated on the 2nd sunday of november so you can guess that it is something very serious. If you want to dance, you will have to learn the steps, don’t worry, it is quite easy. You just have to look to the dancers and repeat their steps under the rhythm of the traditional music.

The cobla should have 11 musicians playing different instruments. The tenora, tible (both to the oboe family), flabiol (small fipple flute) and tamborí (small drum) are the typical catalan instruments). And with them, the contrabass, trumpet, trombone and fiscorn (saxophone family).

Although all types are danced by forming a circle, only the contrapàs is done in chain. The rule is the following. The first dancer of the end left is the boss and it is him who will command the dance by doing short and long steps. The goal is to end the dance at the same spot where he/she started when the music finishes. If this person can make it, everyone will tell him that she/he has been able to manage to execute the counterstep.

In the past, it was performed by men only because they represented the hierarchic and social organization of a community.

Actually, it is an alternation between man and woman to form the chain.

If you want to see and why not, to participate, you don’t need to be in Barcelona during a local festival, every sunday around 12h, there are people dancing it in front of the cathedral of Barcelona. And except the competition, it exists also the day of the sardana celebrated the sunday between the 23 and 27 of april since 1960. In 2010, the catalan government added it to the catalonia's festivities heritage catalogue and declared it a festivity of national interest.

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