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The Festival of Basque Choreographers brought the sea to Berlin through dance, poetry, music and bertsos


A moment from "Batteleku batean," by Mikel Aristegui at the Basque Choreographers festival (photo Volker Roloff)
A moment from "Batteleku batean," by Mikel Aristegui at the Basque Choreographers festival (photo Volker Roloff)


“Basques looking at the sea,” was the central theme of the second edition of the Festival of Basque Choreographers in Berlin that took place this last weekend in the German capital. Over the three days, a dozen dancers and Basque artists evoked in the German audience sensations caused by the sea, through dance, music, poetry and bertsolaritza. Seven Basque companies presented the latest from the world of dance in the Basque Country including new pieces created on the spot, mixing dance with the other arts. Mikel Aristegui, event promoter, told that given the success of the event, a similar event may take place next year in London.

Berlin, Germany.  The II Festival of Basque Choreographers took place this last weekend in Berlin that had “great success,” according to Aihnoa Añorga, president of the Berlin Euskal Etxea.  Festival promoter Mikel Aristegui, as well as other members of the Basque community who collaborated in the organization of the event were all “very satisfied” with its results. 

According to Aristegui, the festival could make a leap to London next year; “Next year I will collaborate with the first Festival of Choreographers in London.  In Berlin the third edition will take place during the summer of 2013;  two years from now, so in between there will be one in another European capital…my intention is to create a sort of network so Basque choreographers can present their work in Europe in normal conditions.”

Bertsos in movement

The festival began on Friday, December 9, and for three days Berlin audiences were got the chance to get to know a small section of today’s Basque dancing world first hand. In addition to dance the festival also presented other arts, and the dialogue among all of them allowed for beautiful and original moments of creativity and improvisation.  “The literature and poetry recitals were accompanied by music and dance improvisations which resulted in unique readings,” Añorga said.   

An example of this improvisation was the first artistic proposal presented by Mikel Aristegui: the concept of “Bertsolari-Dantzari.”  Ainhoa Añorga explained that during the performance “each bertsolari had a dancer beside him/her that improvised steps as they improvised the bertsos.  At the same time, Nagore and Lourdes, Basque club members, managed to do the impossible: to translate these bertsos instantly and write them in German and project them on a giant screen.  In this way, even those who didn’t understand Basque could follow.”

Festival Coreografos Vascos Berlin 2011 Presentacion

[Festival presentation at the Cervantes Institute in Berlin with organizers and collaborating entities.  From left to right: Aizpea Goenaga (director of the Etxepare Basque Institute), Gloria Minguez (in charge of culture at the Spanish Embassy), Ainhoa Añorga (Berlin Basque club president), Elke Roloff (from Art and Project), and Pantxoa Etchegoin (director of Euskal Kultur Erakundea) (photo Volker Roloff)]

Berlin with sea

In all seven dance companies participated in the festival, “even more interesting is that they were all different and special,” Añorga added.  List of participants, here.

The Works presented all corresponded to the central theme “Basques looking at the ocean,” as did the two documentaries that were screened “Apaizac Obeto,” about the whaling routes in Newfoundland and “Modernist Basque Surifng.”

Over the three days of the festival there were also many light and music exhibitions, that brought the sea closer to visitors.  

-Festival blog, here
-Berlin’s Basque club, here
-Berlin’s Basque club on Facebook, here


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