‘Zubideak’ brings Europe’s most prestigious dance festival to San Sebastian

Two months before the Biennale de la danse takes place in Lyon (France), San Sebastian will be hosting a preview of this major European festival on 3 July.

The event will run from 11:00am to 9:00pm and is split between Okendo square and Cataluña square.

Over the course of the festival, audiences will be able to enjoy performances by international artists such as Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger and Basque companies including Lasala.

On 3 July, San Sebastian will become the capital of dance thanks to the Biennale de la danse, a world-famous contemporary dance festival. Zubideak. Lyon will take place two months before the Biennale de la danse celebrates its own festival in the city of Lyon. Dominique Hervieu, Director of Maison de la danse, has been responsible for devising the programme for the third Zubideak. The respected director has chosen pieces which are visually and poetically strong while focusing on both impact and quality. Companies such as Cielo RasO, Ertza, Lasala and Shakti Olaizola will also be giving the event a local touch.

San Sebastian 2016 and Orona will act as co-producers for the performances by Group Acrobatique Tanger and the Yoann Bourgeois Company.

Events in Cataluña square and Okendo square

For the first time ever, Zubideak will be taking place in two sites. Cataluña square and Okendo square will be turned into urban stages where the public can enjoy cutting-edge European dance.

Cataluña square

Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger (GAT) will be tasked with opening the event at 11:30am in Cataluña square, but they will also be putting on a public warm-up session thirty minutes beforehand. Famous for putting a modern spin on the cultural tradition of Moroccan acrobatics, GAT are returning to their roots with Halka, a multidisciplinary performance where artists from the Moroccan company will be exploring the contradictions of their universe: the sacred and the profane, the spectacular and the invisible, the original and the borrowed. After performing in San Sebastian, the company will travel to Madrid, where they will make their last public appearance on 5 July as part of the Veranos de la Villa programme in partnership with DSS2016EU before the world première in Lyon. The Moroccan company will be performing this production in parts at 2:00pm, 4:00pm and 6:00pm in Cataluña square.

Led by Denis Plassard and accompanied by several musicians, the choreographed dances will be the next event of the day where dance enthusiasts are encouraged to get involved and take centre stage. There’s no need to be an experienced dancer - you just have to let yourself go in this playful, gradual approach to dance with Denis Plassard which features fun, cheerful movements from different musical styles such as classical music, jazz, rock, rap, dance, etc. The only goal is to have a good time and share a unique moment. The dances will be divided into four parts (with different choreography for each session) and they can be enjoyed at 12:00am, 2:30pm, 4:30pm and 6:30pm. The last performance by Plassard and the company will take place at 7:30pm and it will be uninterrupted.

The well-known French choreographer will not just be taking part in these performances however, because Plassard will be inviting those who are interested to pose with him throughout the day and the moment will be captured forever in a photo.

The Cielo RasO company will be performing Carnaval at 12:30am and 5:00pm. This contemporary dance group was set up in 2009 and it is the culmination of the artistic, educational and social interests of two companies: Teatro de Açúcar (Brazil) and the Igor Calonge Company (Spain). This combination has manifested itself through theatre productions, dance productions, courses and workshops in Spain and Brazil. Carnaval is a piece with overlapping stories which are blended with the two concepts of good and evil, and it is witnessed by a silent chorus and three protagonists who spill their human nature.

Local company Lasala will be performing the contemporary dance show Hooked. The piece is a reflection of how human beings have a constant need for an emotional bond with others and the effects that this condition can have. By taking advantage of the precision and power of movement, the performance reflects the different moods experienced during the various stages of these behaviours. Audiences can enjoy Hooked at 1:30pm and 7:00pm.

Okendo square

The launch event for Zubideak. Lyon in Okendo square couldn’t be any more spectacular. The French artist Yoann Bourgeois will be performing Fugue/Trampoline, a series of short, breathtaking pieces of choreography. Closely following the model of musical compositions which are known as fugues, each of them is based on a musical score and involves a particular object - a trampoline, a ball, a table, a slope... All of these pieces are striving for the same thing - suspension, that moment in the present when the body reaches its peak and the fall has yet to begin.

The Gipuzkoan dance company Shakti Olaizola has been working on its individual project Irakurtzen for four years. The company started working on the Irakurriz project in 2013 and it has been performed in Italy, France, Colombia and Ecuador before coming to San Sebastian.

Olaizola seeks to immerse audiences in the somewhat unusual world of a girl. Through their interpretation, the public will travel through different chapters of a story full of memories, discoveries, ideas, dreams... The public will be able to join the artist on this journey from 1:00pm onwards.

Ertza aims to create a new space where different artistic disciplines have a place alongside contemporary dance, and can notably enrich performing arts through dialogue and interaction. The première of HRK can be seen at 5:30pm. Five artists from the world of contemporary dance, hip hop and breakdancing will use astounding pieces of choreography to talk about “threads” as a metaphor for links or joins, exploring what consciously or unconsciously depends on the psychological links or ties that we create over the course of our lives, transporting us to a physical plane and creating a dance which speaks for itself, without the need to resort to words.

All day long, adults and children alike will be able to colour and breathe life into the boards which have been inspired by dancers and are located near the main stage in the same square.


The San Sebastian 2016 team has been working alongside the commissioner from the team at the Maison de la danse, which is the institution which organises the Biennale de la Danse in Lyon. As a result of this partnership, DSS2016EU and Orona have become the co-producers for forthcoming performances by GAT (Halka, which will take place in different parts in San Sebastian) and the Yoann Bourgeois Company. Both of these will be performed for the first time in September at the Biennale de la danse, which will also feature another joint production from DSS2016EU: La Belle et la Bête. Thanks to DSS2016EU’s partnership with Veranos de la Villa, which is Madrid Destino’s summer programme of cultural events, GAT will be in Madrid the day after they perform in San Sebastian. Denis Plassard is also one of the artists who will be taking part in the Biennale programme in Lyon.

DSS2016EU has determined to invite Basque companies to take part in this project, to boost and promote the region’s talent. DSS2016EU has been helped along the way by Dantzagunea, a service promoted by Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, which aims to promote processes of learning and creation in dance.

Welcome to summer

This third Zubideak will also mark the start of the European Capital of Culture’s summer season, which will see the San Sebastian 2016 programme reach dizzy heights. Several volunteers from DSS2016EU will be distributing the Capital of Culture’s summer programme throughout the day in order to give the public more information about the most important events which will be running from June to September.

As this welcome event is sure to be a merry and colourful affair, 1000 refreshing handmade ice lollies will also be given away with the programme. These lollies will come in various flavours and have been specially customised by Pololo for DSS2016EU.

The 'Zubideak' project

Zubideak seeks to make connections between Europe’s different cultures and bring them to San Sebastian. To do this, some of the city's most symbolic bridges and their surroundings will be turned into spaces where citizens can learn about, feel and gain first-hand experience of several of the many cultures that make up Europe in partnership with of some of the continent’s most important cultural festivals, such as those that are held in Wroclaw (Poland), Lyon (France), Dublin (Ireland), and Ljubljana (Slovenia). The area around the River Urumea will become a huge stage for different forms of artistic expression related to literature, dance, music, and theatre.

After having celebrated Wroclaw’s Thanks Jimi Festival and Dublin’s Bloomsday Festival, the latest event that Zubideak will pay homage to is one of the oldest performing arts festivals in Europe: Ana Desetnica. This festival will arrive in San Sebastian on 31 July, bringing with it a wide variety of street theatre performances.

Orona Fundazioa, sponsor of 'Zubideak'

Since the start of the candidacy process and until the status of European Capital of Culture was achieved, Orona Fundazioa has supported this project with its human capital and its infrastructures located in its innovative headquarters, the Orona Ideo technology centre, shared by businesses, research centres and the University.

Orona Fundazioa is a non-profit entity that represents the more human side of Orona and tries to provide a service not only to the people who are part of the organisation, but also to society as a whole. It seeks to reinforce commitments to its surroundings, through social innovation projects.

In this external relationship, the foundation seeks to create a meeting space with educational, social, sports, cultural, socioeconomic and institutional agents with the aim of sharing knowledge and experiences that can be added to Orona’s culture and to encourage society's development.

Complete programme