Since setting up in Biarritz in 1998, the Centre Chorégraphique National Malandain Ballet Biarritz has always wanted to forge links with the South Basque Country and more particularly with the Guipuzcoan capital Donostia/San Sebastián. In 2000, it received support from the Diputación Foral de Guipuzcoa and the European Interreg III A funds to launch its cross-border activities.
In 2002, this cross-border ambition led to the creation of the Dantzaz Association and a Choreographic Awareness Centre based in Donostia / San Sebastián. Supported by the Diputación Foral of Guipuzcoa and the Basque Autonomous Government, the project was given fresh impetus with the founding of Ballet Biarritz Junior in 2005, which became autonomous at the end of 2008 under the name Dantzaz Konpainia.
The Cross-Border Choreography Centre project itself began with the reopening of the Teatro Victoria Eugenia in 2007. The Malandain Ballet Biarritz set up a partnership with the City of San Sebastián and the Teatro Victoria Eugenia, for which it received European Interreg IV A funding. Since then, Malandain Ballet Biarritz and Teatro Victoria Eugenia have defined the actions to be implemented to promote public access to dance and support the development of choreographic art on both sides of the border in the Basque Country.
From 2020, with a view to strengthening the impact of its actions, the new Pôle Chorégraphique Territorial will steer and coordinate the CCN’s activities relating to specific cross-border issues and territorial cooperation, including the Ballet T project as an extension of the 2015-2020 agreement linking the CCN de Biarritz to the Théâtre Victoria Eugenia.
To promote choreographic cultures through a shared artistic project accessible to as many people as possible;
Promote dialogue between artists and audiences in the cross-border area through awareness-raising and mediation initiatives. Stepping up the work done with audiences will be the main focus of the coming years;
Creating a new joint repertoire between Donostia / San Sebastián and Biarritz, by promoting the cross-border vocation of Malandain Ballet Biarritz and supporting Basque artists;
Contribute to the visibility of the Basque Eurocity in the Greater Region, in France and internationally by drawing on the influence of Malandain Ballet Biarritz;
Integrate the new environmental axis by initiating or contributing to cooperation between cultural, environmental and tourist structures located in the cross-border area.
The Ballet T project began when the Victoria Eugenia Theatre was refurbished in 2007, providing it with a full range of facilities and services: a 900-seat auditorium with a 310 m2 stage, a 120-seat modular Club room, a 210 m2 dance studio, several multi-purpose rooms, etc. Every year, this theatre hosts dance and theatre shows, the San Sebastián International Film Festival and organises the dFERIA festival.
The Malandain Ballet Biarritz and the Victoria Eugenia Theatre of Donostia / San Sebastián will continue their joint project between 2020 and 2024, which aims to encourage the development of choreographic art in the region.
Victoria Eugenia Antzokia
Located right in the heart of Donostia-San Sebastián, the Teatro Victoria Eugenia is one of the city’s most emblematic buildings. Steeped in history since its inauguration in 1912, the theatre has witnessed the city’s major events.
Its ambitious renovation, completed in 2007, has transformed it into an innovative theatrical space, equipped with the most modern facilities and services, while retaining its charm and original features:
– the main auditorium, with a capacity of 900 and a stage area of 310 m2
– the club room, which is modular and can accommodate 120 spectators in theatre format
– the foyer, with a capacity of 300 for cocktail parties
– the Chinese room with a capacity of 50 people
– a 210 m2 dance studio
– a press room
– several multi-purpose rooms
Every year it hosts some of Donostia-San Sebastián’s major events, including the Quincena Musical, the Jazzaldia Festival and the Dferia theatre and dance fair.
Its varied programme of high artistic quality is aimed at all audiences, without exception.
Co-production and dissemination of a cross-border ballet with an international reputation
From 2020 to 2024, the next creations of Malandain Ballet Biarritz will be co-produced and presented by Teatro Victoria Eugenia with the support of the cities of Donostia / San Sebastián and Biarritz.
The city of San Sebastián is keen to ensure that the vast majority of the shows are widely performed internationally. Future tours will promote the image of the region in which they are based, with shows that are ‘made in the Basque Country’.
As part of the cross-border co-productions, all new productions by Malandain Ballet Biarritz will continue to be shown on both sides of the border, in particular the end-of-year shows in Donostia/San Sebastián and Biarritz, for which an awareness-raising programme will be set up with workshops taking place in the theatres of both towns.
Les Estivales: cross-border event in Biarritz and Donostia / San Sebastián
Being located in a tourist area is an opportunity to reach a large audience during the summer period: the population of Biarritz increases from 25,000 to 125,000 in July and August, and that of San Sebastián from 186,000 to 373,000. So every August, to close the season, the Ballet offers the Estivales, an event comprising :
– five to six summer performances of a ballet from the repertoire at the Teatro Victoria Eugenia in Donostia / San Sebastián, and at the Gare du Midi in Biarritz ;
– the organisation of the Biarritz International Dance Academy, which welcomes an average of 350 trainees over 5 days;
– a demonstration of the work carried out by the Dance Academy trainees on the stage of the Gare du Midi;
– exhibitions of photos of dance performances.
Assisting Basque artists
Victor Hugo described the Basque people as a dancing people. The Basque people’s attachment to this art has enabled them to preserve a rich repertoire of traditional dances, which has been able to keep up with the times. Amateur groups and professional companies based in the region bring this repertoire to life at events and indoor performances. Alongside these groups, companies have sprung up which, based on traditional Basque dance, offer shows combining Basque dance steps with other choreographic languages.
Based on the fact that there is a unique heritage and creative forces working around Basque dance, that it is an integral part of the identity of the conurbation and that it can be a vector for the attractiveness of the area, we want to increase our support for Basque artists over the next few years.
The aim is to enable these artists to finalise their production through financial support, the loan of equipment, the provision of dance studios, logistics, communication relays, etc. and to be promoted, in particular by creating synergies with the Biarritz Dance Season, the Accueil – Studio scheme, the Regards croisés project and partnerships with venues in New Aquitaine.
This support is given to Basque artists based mainly in Iparralde and Gipuzkoa, whether they have a traditional or contemporary aesthetic. These include Mizel Theret, Jon Maya/Kukai, Lasala and Maritzuli. The Dantzaz company based in Errenteria will be welcoming choreographers for residencies in partnership with the Biarritz CCN.
Basque space in Biarritz
It has a dance studio, dressing rooms, an office and a nearby sewing room, and will pursue the following objectives:
– to demonstrate the richness and vitality of Basque dance, which reconciles tradition and history with creativity and a contemporary outlook;
– to encourage encounters between dance groups/companies from Iparralde (North Basque Country) and Hegoalde (South Basque Country), as well as from the interior Basque Country and the coast;
– organising cultural mediation, training the public of tomorrow: meetings, screenings and workshops… ;
– offering regular dance classes from beginner to advanced level.
It also takes into account the fact that many amateur companies are involved in traditional Basque dance. In this way, the Ballet will provide long-term support for young Basques who want to take ownership of an important part of their cultural heritage, and introduce them to all our activities.
Audience development and circulation
Keeping Basque creators close to their audiences is essential in this region, where the relationship with dance is so important, and to encourage the emergence of new talent.
Launched in 2012, Regards croisés is a programme for the exchange and circulation of works created by emerging companies from the Basque Country on either side of the border, around which a major outreach programme is built (open rehearsals, workshops, meetings and debates with the public, etc.).
The aim is to support contemporary Basque creation by giving artists the opportunity to present their work in Biarritz, Errenteria and Bilbao.
Regards croisés will therefore continue to be based on international cooperation between the Fundicion de Bilbao, the town of Errenteria – Centre Culturel Niessen Dantzagunea – Gipuzkoa, Cie Kale from Vila Nova de Gaia (Portugal) and the Labo de recherches chorégraphiques du Malandain Ballet Biarritz. INSA Toulouse (an engineering school with a special music and dance programme) is also involved. This initiative is supported by the Basque Cultural Institute.
Rendez-vous basque / Euskal Hitzorduak
The Rendez-vous Basque event celebrates the crossover between artists and genres. The aims are to
– to support and promote Basque choreographic creation ;
– to be a showcase for Basque dance, encouraging encounters between groups and companies from Iparralde and Hegoalde, from the coast and the interior, whether they are developing a traditional or more contemporary style;
– Raising public awareness of Basque creation.
Around 2 or 3 shows at the Théâtre du Casino in Biarritz, exhibitions, conferences and workshops will be offered to the public, with the aim of encouraging encounters between creators and dancers.