In Britain, the educated classes like to make fun of folk dance, and most other people don’t really register its existence. Morris dancing is a national joke, despite being an ancient and valuable part of our culture, very elegant when done well, and sometimes accompanied by brilliantly played fiddle and accordion music.
There’s not so much snobbery in the Basque Country, where folk dance is a popular, dynamic and sophisticated phenomenon and an integral part of most Basque communities. We saw lots of it during our year in Bilbao, without having to try very hard. Its popularity has grown with the post-Franco Basque revival, but it has never suffered the kind of dismal decline that has befallen Morris dancing, and it is dynamic and strong in every Basque community. It’s both a central part of religious and secular festivals (fiestas), and, in its more informal manifestations, a very popular social activity.
Here are some photos from the internet that illustrate the leg kicks which are undoubtedly the most characteristic element of Basque dance: