The “innocent carnality” of the dancer Zuriñe Benavente opens the key event for dance


“Zuriñe has a wonderful presence, she is magnificent, she has an innocent carnality that makes her light but at the same time she is very sharp.” These are the words that Laura Etxebarria, director of the Danztalia festival, chooses to define Zuriñe Benavente, one of the most captivating figures on the scene today. Benavente dances in the piece What do the flowers have? from the Altraste company, which will inaugurate the Bilbao festival this Thursday, September 23. “My pedagogical work is to give value to the whole team and I do not want to focus on it but Zuriñe is really very magical,” says the programmer about a dancer who remembers María Muñoz (Mal Pelo) although she is twenty years old.

Dantzalia has become a reference for good practices throughout Spain. A way of managing that has made this sample a model to follow and proof that coexistence between private and public initiative is possible and can be extended over time. The festival, directed by the Sala La Fundición, celebrates its twenty-second edition, an infrequent durability.

His balance between a powerful international program – he has been through him in recent years, among other names, the French Jerome Bell, the Greeks Laroque or the Italians of Asmed – and his accompaniment to the national scene have turned the festival into a lung and space meeting place for dance in the north of Spain. “The festival and the La Fundición venue have always been concerned about supporting local companies,” says Etxebarria. “The dynamic of creation in the Basque Country has been very powerful in Bizkaia and Guipuzkoa. In Araba there was less boiling, although in recent years it has become very interesting and the Altraste company is a good example of this.”



This bet is combined with a program that accumulates five national awards, three Max awards and a Benois award. This is the case of Iratxe Ansa and his company that inaugurated the last edition. “After three weeks they were awarded the National Award. We have accompanied that company for years and that is why now they release their piece Naked, because we wanted to share that joy “, reveals the programmer. The work will be able to be seen on October 1 at the Barakaldo Antzokia, a space that represents the first extension of the festival outside the city of Bilbao.

This year the Fundición turns 35 years old. Looking back, Etxebarria admits that at that time they felt “a rare bird in Bilbao.” “The panorama of then had nothing to do with that of today. Contemporary dance was even considered elitist. But we were dancers, that was our militancy. At first we connected very well with the people of Fine Arts and not so much with the of the theater. We had to go abroad a lot, especially to France. In the nineties, when contemporary theater entered much more in the poetic calls of the body, we also opened ourselves to it, that exchange was fundamental for us “.

Working on a declining budget

The festival got off to a strong start in 2000, with the support of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia. “It was such a busy time for dance, where so many things were happening in Europe, that we encouraged the Provincial Council to create the festival. It was born with very good omens. Over the years the crises came and the budget was lowering. Now the festival has less money than when it started, “explains its director. For this year, the festival has a budget of 122,000 euros, 30% less than in its first years.

The secret of the survival of a festival like this is not only in the connection with other places but also in good practices: “above all and the first thing is to pay the artists,” says Etxebarria. “We know that we are a space of permanent precariousness but the hard work was always looking for money to pay people, something that unfortunately almost nobody did. Now it seems that that is changing,” he adds.

Dantzalia represented a radical change in the way a festival was programmed, combining performances with residencies, accompaniment, creation and networking with other structures. “This fabric has made possible an accompaniment strategy at the local, state and international level that has allowed us to grow”, explains Laura Etxebarria.

Dance in the maze

One of the original proposals of the festival is to bring dance inside a museum. “In 2007 we began our relationship with the Guggenheim Museum with a fantastic piece with Sol Picó and Israel Galván, it was a site-specific [creado específicamente para ese lugar] in which we brought the two together in Richard Serra’s ship, within his labyrinth sculptures. Having other spaces and other audiences that are not purely dance is also what has made the festival grow. When the Guggenheim audience meets Donata D´Urso, Natalia Fernández or Israel Galván in that space … you hit a nerve “.

This year the festival has programmed Jesús Carmona, National Prize in 2020, at the Guggenheim with the piece Dance of beasts on November 13. A dance, flamenco, which has gradually entered the festival: “We began in the purest militancy of contemporary dance and creation, but flamenco has not been left out of the evolution of the performing arts. We had this illumination that something was happening with Israel Galván. It left us speechless, “Extebarria clarifies.

Another highlight is the triple program on October 29 with pieces by La Intrusa (2015 National Award), the Israeli Sharon Fridman and the Germans from Frantics Dance Company. On November 25, one of the most anticipated works will arrive, The nudity, winner of three Max awards (choreography, show and performer) by Daniel Abreu, 2014 National Dance Award and that has Dácil González as performer, National Dance Award, in turn, in 2019.

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