This dance, which we refer to as the “Gipuzkoa ezpatadantza”, has many characteristics in common with other ezpatadantzas that are danced in different towns of Euskal Herria, as well as with some ezpatadantzas typical of some European regions. In Euskal Herria, there are numerous ezpatadantas that have a similar structure to the Gipuzkoa ezpatadantza. These include the ezpatadantzas of Legazpia, Markina, Zumarraga or Tolosa.
The dantzaris are divided into two groups: on the one hand, there is the group of dantzaris who carry long swords and on the other hand, the dantzaris group that carries short swords, who are also called azkendariak (the rear ones). The number of dantzaris who carry long swords varies, even though the figure has to be a multiple of four: 16, 20, 24 and even 100. There are usually four dantzaris who carry short swords, in other words, the azkendariak
The dantzaris with long swords usually stand in four lines, but there may be three or two if there are fewer dantzaris. “Some friends get together in the towns and stand in two, and even three, lines, but the correct way is to form four lines
," explained Juan Ignacio Iztueta in his 1824 book.
The sword is held in such a fashion that one dantzari holds it by the handle and the following by the tip, the dantzaris in each line form a special dance chain. The leader, who is in the front of the group, is in charge of joining all the lines of dantzaris. With respect to the group of dantzaris at the rear, each one of its members carries two short swords and they all remain behind the main group until, as one of the movements of the dance, they move to the front of the main group and perform their dance there.
The ezpatadantzas have frequently been linked to the Corpus Christi celebration, St. John's day and to the main local festivities, as well as to the festivities and celebrations organised to honour the monarchs throughout history. In general, it is a dance that is usually danced on important occasions and therefore requires a large number of dantzaris. The ezpatadantza has traditionally been performed inside the church or in processions before the image of the saints or of Our Lady. A small variation of the dance with small swords is performed on such occasions and is known as Jaunaren aurrekoa
(dance in front of Our Lord). An unusual feature of the Jaunaren aurrekoa
is that the dantzaris never turn their back at any time during the dance to the altar, to Our Lady or the saint in front of whom they are dancing.