Interview to Kiaya Memeo
By Xavier Irujo
When was The Ardi Baltza Dantza Taldea created and how did this initiative happen?
Ardi Baltza was created in 2013 with the purpose of inspiring younger generations to be more connected and involved with the Basque culture.
What is the aim of the group? Why was it created?
The aim of our group is to simply instill passion and create a lifelong love of the Basque culture, whether people are Basque or not.
Weaving emotion and story-telling into their performances, Ardi Baltza aims to capture the mysterious essence of Basque folklore. How is this?
Basque history is both rich in content and at times, mysterious. But, without a connection to it, we lose our sense of Basque identity. Through the various performances Ardi Baltza stages, there is always an underlying Basque story being told, whether it’s telling folktales of the old Pagan religion or more specific historical events, such as the bombing of Gernika. All members find it incredibly important in learning and passing down these stories, creating a strong emotional tie to the Basque culture.
The group pulls choreography from both traditional and contemporary Basque dance, along with other classical dance styles, right?
Correct, over the years we have built a bridge into Basque dancing with styles that encourage more youth participation in the U.S. We always respect the “traditional” steps, but are not afraid to put our contemporary twist on things. We have included modern, lyrical, contemporary and ballet in most of our performances.
Ardi Baltza endeavors to inspire future generations to continue the perpetuation and evolution of Basque dancing. How have you thought of promoting the evolution of Basque dancing? What kind of changes or innovation does Ardi Baltza suggest?
We see Basque diaspora in the U.S. as being locked down within a certain time-period that corresponds with the large Basque immigration to the states, while the Basque County itself has naturally been able to evolve over time, including dance and song. While keeping traditional dances in-tact to preserve their history is necessary, these dances will die out if they fail to connect to the younger generations. Ardi Baltza suggests that by constantly learning new dances and songs, marrying traditional with contemporary, along with constant research and knowledge of Basque history, we may find a way to both preserve and perpetuate.
Ardi Baltza has been able to promote these ideals through example, simply having the courage of performing something different than what Basque diaspora in the U.S. deems “traditional” and even “Basque” itself.
Where has Ardi Baltza been featured?
Ardi Baltza has been featured at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, on the TV series “State Plate”, Basque Cultural Day in San Fransisco, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Boise’s 2015 Jaialdi, and multiple Basque Festivals in the U.S.
What are your plans for the future?
We definitely have our sights set on traveling outside of the U.S. to further our understanding of the Basque culture. We want to experience as much as we can together as a group. Through education, observation, participation and even humanitarian efforts, Ardi Baltza looks forward to an ever-evolving future!
Where can we see Ardi Baltza perform next?
Ardi Baltza will be putting on a fundraiser performance during the NABO convention in Winnemucca on June 8th, 2018. The performance is entitled: Etxea, Memoirs of Gernika. The show features multiple eyewitness accounts of the tragic bombings of Gernika paired with the contemporary and lyrical dance styles of Ardi Baltza. For tickets and more information please visit us on our Facebook page. @ardibaltza