10. Dance


Dances traditionally took place on various occasions, including weddings; or on certain nights, in front of rural wells and fountains. There is basically one traditional dance type, which appears to be a very old form. It has two main subdivisions known as La Llarga, and La Curta, and wedding variations: ses nou rodades, ses dotze rodades, sa filera,  (the nine turns, the twelve turns, the farewell). A pipe and tabor player, a castanet player and a third man playing the espasí provide the music. The male dancers, while playing the castanyoles, execute high, light-footed leaps with legs extended far up (la llarga), or lower, statelier movements (la curta), around the women, who, dressed in heavy layers of skirts and under-skirts, move in smooth, tiny steps in small circles (la curta) or wider spirals in figure

eights (la llarga) with their eyes cast demurely down. The costume dictates the style of the women’s movement, so that the modern tendency to  dance wearing blue jeans, for example, means that dance gestures related to the traditional clothes now appear to be ritualized movements with no apparent explanation. The dancers’ movements and facial control traditionally conveyed a great deal in terms of courtship relationships, although today the danza exists largely as a performance genre. There is a movement among young people to revitalize dance as a form of recreation rather than relegate it to performance contexts, and as part of this revitalization, to wear “normal” clothes even though they may change the movements and their meanings (see Manonelles). It is worth noting that while the


La curta (Dance). (mp3 file)
Dancers of Sant Josep, Ibiza
Palma de Mallorca, June 27, 1952


Sección Femenina of the Falange often altered costumes and dance steps in other parts of Spain, in the Pityusans they seem to have made few if any fundamental changes (Escandell 2003).

Dancers of Saint Josep, Ibiza, at the Folklore Festival and Competition.

Palma de Mallorca, June 1952.


For decades, people have attended social  dance sessions, doing the popular dances of the time such as cha-cha and foxtrot, even the can-can, in Dalt Vila and the Marina, and as well in some rural bars where sailors and fishermen gathered, and people came in from the villages and outlying houses: the

Bar San Juan, Can Noguera and others. These dance sessions still take place in a few community centres. An amusing link between the old and new dance worlds was provided by a rural musician in his eighties. He told us that occasionally he goes to the first of the discothèques, built as an elaboration of the traditional casa pagesa. Rather than pay the very high entrance fee (usually between 40 and 80 euros) he simply sidles in beside a group of young people walking out, and walks backward into the discothèque. He told us happily that his new pacemaker enables him to dance for hours “with three girls at once.”



Josep Riera Escandell and Rita Roig Mayan. Formentera, 1952.

11. Music in the Pityusan Islands Today


To sum up, religious songs such as the caramelles and passos are still sometimes performed in traditional context.  To a certain extent, there has been a revival and even a continuation of the redoblat and gloses, more the latter, as the redoblat technique is a difficult one and not everyone wants to learn how to do it. These genres and the musical occasions where they are traditionally performed survive more in Formentera than in Ibiza, but even in Formentera only a handful of the singers are young, and they lack the vast repertoires of the older people. Musical occasions tend to be on a formally organized level rather than the occasions traditionally set up, leading people to feel that not only has the spontaneity been lost, but that this formalizing has changed the social significance and even the actual performance structure and  style of their singing. In many case, these traditions are being preserved at the cost of becoming museum and tourist objects. In June 2004, a kit of tapes and a video of oral history interviews was distributed to various town halls of thees, but systematic teaching of musical traditions, actively or passively, does not currently exist in school curricula. 

A small number of “folk” and folk revival groups have been formed; the best-known are Uc (Ibiza) and Aires de Formenterencs; both reinterpret some traditional music, and compose music to existing texts or new songs altogether, adding instruments and arrangements (see Joan Mari et al:19). Bands and choirs perform regularly; and there is a Conservatory, as well as an orchestra in Ibiza.Social dances take place regularly in a few centres.

Since the mid-to-late 20th century,  hippie colonies and individuals have introduced New Age sounds and other musics, the fledgling annual  “medieval fair” includes music which is often middle eastern rather than medieval, and of course Ibiza  has become known for its DJs and discotheque music, including rock compositions in ibicenco (“rock pagès”), New Age music, world music, especially from India and the Middle East,  and Ibiza discothèque music, mostly house music at this time. A number of experiments in fusion are also taking place, such as Esteban Lucci’s Immaculate Ibiza (2004), which rather unconvincingly grafts occasional snippets of redoblat, flute, castanets, or espasí onto “chillout” tracks  offered as a contemporary alternative to the pounding discotheque sounds. All these seem to exist in another world from what is left of traditional practice. It is almost as if, within these two small islands, Ibiza and Formentera, several musical islands existed – the newer “islands” not defined by natural sea boundaries, but by a parallel way of life which only sometimes jumps its tracks – or its currents - and influences its old island host.

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