San Migel Zerutxo dantza taldeaSaint Michael’s Day is the main celebration of the season. In Arretxinaga, Markina, the festival is held in front of Saint Michael’s remarkable hermitage. It is the only chance to enjoy the ezpata-dantza of Xemein. The names of the dancers that take part in this particular show are Maisu zaharra (Old master), Ezpata nagusiak (Main swordsmen) and Ezpata txikiak (Minor swordsmen). The dance is followed by aurreskua and soka-dantza performances in honour of all village girls and women.

We should give account of another beautiful dance performed on the same day, Saint Michael’s Day, in Iurreta: Dantzari-dantza or the ezpata-dantza of Bizkaia. On the eve, in the evening, Donielatxa, a long eucalyptus or beech trunk is placed in the square. According to some experts, this custom was, at a time, observed on Saint John’s Day and later postponed until autumn. Some others, in turn, believe that Donielatxa is originally a Saint Michael’s Day ritual. Nowadays the dance, consisting of eight different movements, is executed after mass. Humboldt, the traveller, reported on the existence of this particular dance already between the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th.

Next we shall travel to Cortes to find about the local Dance. The dancers start their work in the morning, although the main performance takes place in the afternoon. Dance is a spectacle in which dance and bertso singing perfectly blend. There are four main characters: Mayoral (Head shepherd), Rabadan (Second shepherd), Aingerua (Angel) and Deabrua (Demon). In the end four movements are performed, two paloteado dances involving hitting of sticks and two zinta-dantza steps.