Juan Ignacio Iztueta undertook the huge task of providing a written record with all the possible details about the Gipuzkoan dances, and it is thanks to his hard work that we now have information about the doinu zaharrak or ancient melodies. In fact, even if some other dances mentioned by Iztueta himself have been passed down through the generations, the ancient melodies were not recovered until the 20th century thanks to the explanation and melodies that Iztueta set out in writing.
In general terms, the same criteria used to dance the zortzikos can be said to also be valid to perform the doinu zaharrak. It is up to the dantzari himself to complete the choreographic composition by combining the steps. The law of symmetry should be respected, so that what is done with the right foot is then repeated with the left foot or after a step has been performed to the right is then carried out with the left. Iztueta explains this as follows:
“…the dantzari's greatest beauty is that whatever he does with one foot, he then does with the other, and that what is performed to one side is then completed with the same movement to the other side”.
With respect to the difficulty, Iztueta recommends to begin with simple steps and progressively increase their difficulty.
“The simplest of these moves shall be danced first and then the more complicated ones, as performing the more basic ones after the most spectacular ones would produce an awful effect".
The number of beats or points that make up the different parts of the doinu zaharrak is not regular but rather is changed from one part to another. The dantzari usually starts and ends their step combinations within the same phase, which makes it considerably more difficult to dance the ancient melodies than the regular melodies. Iztueta explains this as follows:
In order to be able to dance a doinu zaharra, its structure has to first of all be studied and the number of beats in each of its parts learnt by memory in order to be able to then correctly adjust the steps in each phase.
“Whoever knows how to dance a zortziko knows to dance all of them; the same occurs with anyone who knows how to dance any bolera or any other type of dance". But whoever knows how to dance to an ancient melody does not necessarily know how to learn to dance it and except if they learn the melody by memory, as the zortziko, the bolera and all the other dances have well-defined beats, the beats of the ancient melodies are, as you will be able to see, extremely heterogeneous and different."
| examples of doinu zaharrak |
Here are some examples of ancient melodies: