| In a document dating back to 1732, José Maria Gandásegui describes the guild festivities that were held in San Sebastián in that year. According to Gandásegui, the carpenters’ guild danced a sword dance while the tailors’ guild performed a troqueo dance. The dances performed by the tailors consisted of six moves and promenades, and the dantzaris carried bells, long sticks and small buckler shields. According to the narrator, the dantzari tailors showed their outstanding agility with their legs, when leaping and turning. The dance group was made up of sixteen dantzaris and a leader, all of whose costumes were identical.
JIn his 1824 book entitled Gipuzkoako dantza gogoangarrien condaira edo historia, Juan Ignacio Iztueta provides ample information about the brokel-dantza. When referring to the time when each dance has to be performed, the master of zaldibitarra dances points out that the brokel-dantza should be danced during the Festivities to honour the Patron Saint of each town: “Every year, [the music of] the brokel-dantza has to be played in the public square: (….) during the festivities to honour the patron saint of each municipality. Nonetheless, Iztueta explains that preparing these series of dances was costly and required a great deal of work. They were therefore only performed once every three or four years in the towns. However, Juan Antonio Urbeltz believes that those four or five years would the time needed to train and rehearse a group of youngsters until they were able to perform the dances. Thus, according to Urbeltz, when Iztueta talks about the time needed to properly prepare the brokel-dantza, he was referring to young people that already knew the dance:
“In order for this dance to be performed correctly, the dantzaris have to practice with a good teacher for at least 20 days, and a further 8 days with the Basque tambourine players, if they are not from the village"
As Juan Antonio Urbeltz has pointed out, the brokel-dantza has been passed down over the last two centuries on the fringe of ritualised and specific celebrations. It seems that these were the dances performed by the different guilds at a certain period. An example of this would be the brokel-dantza that the members of the San Sebastián tailors guild danced in 1732.
By the 19th century, the brokel-dantza had become the patrimony of the dance masters, who included it in the main festivities. The dance masters taught a group of dancers the series of dances that made up the brokel-dantza and then they went from village to village to perform it. Therefore, the brokel-dantza has been completely separate from any ritual or ceremony at least from the 19th century. Finally, preserved and part of the repertoire of dance groups during the 20th century, it has managed to survive until the 21st century. A series of dances whose characteristics are very similar to those of the brokel-dantza are likewise performed in some towns and to mark certain celebrations. A clear example can be found in the cycle that is danced during the Lizartza carnivals, the San Juan de Berastegi dances or the Antzuola trokeo-dantza cycle.
According to Iztueta, the brokel-dantza comprised nine movements when he was young, although he admits that when he wrote his treatise, he included some additional movements to that series. In any case, this is Iztueta's dance list:
Moves of the brokel-dance:
- Boastitcea edo paseoa (Promenade)
- Agurra edo erreverencia (Dance of Greeting)
- Maquilla chiquiaquicoa (Dance of the small sticks)
- Zortcico lau alde-etacoa (Zortziko of the four cantons)
- Broquel maquillena (Buckler Dance)
- Zortciko 40 murisca edo cabriolacoa (Zortziko of 40 leaps)
- Maquilla andiaquicoa (Dance of the Long Sticks)
- Villancicoa (Wassail)
- Zinta dantza (Ribbon Dance)
Nonetheless, as we have already stated, Iztueta acknowledged that he had include other dances to this list and stated that they come from the contradanzas (contredances) that were learnt in the seminaries. Furthermore, according to Iztueta, these dances were integrated in the brokel-dantza “with great propriety” and, therefore, “we should embrace them as if they were our own”. Iztueta does not explain what these new dances are, but there are two dances that are constantly mentioned from that moment onwards every time reference is made to the brokel-dantza: the dance of the long arches and the dance of the small arches. Iztueta does not directly mention ether of those two dances, but thanks to his continuators, they have both been passed down to us as part of the brokel-dantza cycle. Iztueta does not established a closed list of dances. He wrote the following:
"When I was young, these nine variations or moves were performed when this danza was danced. However, many young men and distinguished gentlemen of Guipuzcoa have nowadays learnt the contradanza and many other types of movements and have introduced them into the brokel-dantza with great propriety and notable success. We should therefore embrace them as if there were ours, given that blend into the dance as if there were part and parcel of it and so reasonably that they embellish, adorn and enrich it”.
One of these “contradanzas” that the Zaldibitarra dance master refers to may be the danza that is danced with long arches. Researchers have unearthed data that shows that dances with arches existed even before the date when Iztueta's book was published. For example, Angel Murua has discovered references to twelve new arches that were used to dance the "contradanza" in Segura in 1806. Juan Antonio Urbeltz came across a reference to the dance with decorated arches that was performed to welcome Queen Amalie of Saxony to Irún in 1819.
| | Iztueta continued to prepared groups of dancers until he was very old. In fact, he was already over 70 in 1840 when the Albrazo de Vergara commemorative acts were held. According to documents unearthed by José Garmendia, the success of the dance group under Iztueta meant that their performance was repeated in 1841, 1842, 1843 and 1844. Juan Ignacio Iztueta retired to his birthplace when he was 73, following which a young nineteen year old, born and raised near to Iztueta's home and called José Antonio Olano, took over the task of teaching the brokel-dantza. According to José Garmendia, Olano was by then already the captain or leader in the dance groups trained by Iztueta.
The dances with arches performed by the dantzari group trained by José Antonio Olano, Iztueta’s disciple and dance master, appeared as part of the brokel-dantza cycle. A document unearthed by Iñaki Irigoien contains the dance programme that Olano's dance group performed in Bilbao in 1858. The following list appears in this programme:
- Symphony played by enthusiasts
- Promenade for the leader to acknowledge the group of dancers
- Contrepas dance to salute the audience
- The zorkziko with various movements using small sticks, with every member of the group holding 2 small sticks for that purpose
- Buckler Dance or with small shields and sticks.
- Crossbow dance including the movements from ancient battles
- The already praised Canton Zortziko, with three of these formed facing towards the audience
- Different battle moves with longer sticks
- Wassail Dance with leap with and without turns
- The Cinta-Danza or ribbon dance, with the dancers tightening and loosening it around a tree
- The contrepas making arches and the contradanza with different moves
In 1824, Iztueta included nine dances in the brokel-dantza, but in 1858, the dance group run by his disciple, José Antonio Olano, offered the audience a series made up of ten dances. It should be pointed out that in the fourth dance, which the author of the programme called "Zortziko with various moves using small sticks, the zortziko and the set of small sticks already appeared together. The Olano group programme did not mention the "zotziko of 40 leaps" which Iztueta referred to and it would not be farfetched to thing that it was the zortziko that they danced before performing the set of the small sticks. In fact, the custom to dance a zortizko before performing a dance with implements has been consolidated over recent decades and, specifically, it has been usual to dance single zortizko finishing in a leap in the ones danced with a set of small sticks. Therefore, that zortziko could be the zortziko with 40 leaps cited by Iztueta.
| | Researchers have discovered another document that dates from the same year when the brokel-dantza dance group run by Olano was performed in Bilbao. It is a small leaflet unearthed in the Koldo Mitxelena library in San Sebastián entitled: Description of the public entertainments of Guipuzcoa with particular reference to its dances. The pages are signed with the initials J.A.A., which Joxemiel Bidador believes refer to José Antonio Azpiazu, the son-in-law of Juan Ignacio Iztueta. Within the dance series referred to as ezpata-dantza, the author describes the brokel-dantza and includes the following dances in it:
- Small sticks
- Buckler shields
- Long sticks or bars
- Low arches
- Makila txikiena
- Uztai txikiena
- Makila handiena
- Uztai handiena
Therefore, even though Iztueta did not directly describe the dances with arches anywhere in his book, his successor included them as part of the dance series of the brokel-dantza.
Olano’s work was carried on by José Lorenzo Pujana, the dance master at Ordizia who taught the brokel-dantza in numerous towns in Giupuzcoa. Apart from in Ordizia, José Lorenzo Pujana taught at least in Zaldibia, Segura, Legazpia, Elgoibar and Añorga. In 1927, San Sebastian City Council appointed José Lorenzo Pujana as Director and Master of the Municipal School of Basque Dances.
There is no great difference between the dance list of the 1858 brokel-dantza and the brokel-dantza as it is danced today. Nowadays, the zortziko of four cantons and the dance of the long sticks are danced together. The dance of the small sticks and its zortziko, as well as the buckler dance and the dance of the long sticks, and the dance of the arches, which have also been passed down to us.