Festival Deltebre Dansa - EFFE Laureate

Simon Mundy - 04 Jul 2019

Get more insight on Festival Deltebre Dansa. Read Simon Mundy's interview with Veronica Guirguis, member of the communication team.

The River Ebro rises in the Cantabrian Mountains and flows South-east through Zaragoza, reaching the Mediterranean about halfway between Barcelona and Valencia. Where it meets the sea, a wide delta has formed of wetlands and silt, now a National Nature Reserve for its wildlife and delicate environment. Deltebre, the core settlement on these flatlands, takes its name from its surroundings. To start a dance festival and community there could only be the result of one passionate individual. In this case it was Roberto Olivan, a dancer and choreographer who has spent much of his career in Brussels, first working with the celebrated Rosas company and then, from 2001, with his own group, R.O.P.A.- Roberto Olivan Performing Arts.

Festival Deltebre Dansa Circus Tent

Deltebre and its nearby town upriver, Tortosa, are home, though, and from 2004 he decided he wanted to give something back so he started the festival – not as a normal series of performances but as a summer celebration of dance and movement, using professionals, workshop participants and local people. Workshops have become integral to Olivan's way of creating and he leads them all over the world. At home, though, he wanted to 'show his own people his work, and help young people study and live the performing arts,' says member of the communication team, Veronica Guirguis.

Now there are two intensive weeks of workshops in July, with over 150 professional participants and around 300 beginners or talented amateurs. Intensive is the word. The workshops start at 9:30 in the morning and continue until 6pm. In the early evening there are talks and discussions before performances start at 10. 'Then we party,' smiles Veronica, 'nobody wants to miss a second so of course everybody stays till late.' In the midsummer heat such dancing must be exhausting. 'It would be easier when the weather is cooler but this is the time of the year when everybody is free,' whether from universities or dance company seasons.

It would be easier to hold workshops in a big city like Barcelona, 'but it wouldn't be the same. Here we are able to create our own performing arts city a long way from anywhere else.' As so often in places where there is no professional artistic tradition, there was resistance to the festival and Roberto Olivan's ambitions at the start. Fifteen years later, the attitude 'has completely changed. Now people wait for it and talk about it for months before.' Roberto says the festival has 'helped Deltebre develop cultural tourism – visitors who want high quality in what they see and do. We have a very fragile environment in the Ebro delta and we have to have visitors who will help us take care of it.'

Note from the EFFE International Jury

This festival founded by Roberto Olivan is having a big impact on and creating a real phenomenon in this little village in the southern part of Catalonia, on the delta of the River Ebro. It is accessible for a wide audience, but has become a place where professionals go for workshops and courses too.

Festival Deltebre Dansa

08 Jul 2019 - 21 Jul 2019