Even though the origin of stilts was not for dancing, soon shepherds began gathering at the local village parties to eye up their rivals and find out who was becoming the next best skilled stilt dancer. Later, dances started to be created for a number of different events and occasions (to thank the cooks who prepared their meals at these parties and events, marriages…)
Dances were also used to show different events in everyday life such as hunting and the floods and draughts of the river. In most cases the music used was polka and rondo which are normally danced on the ground but were adapted for the stilt dances. Even today these well known dances are performed on the ground, the older generations knowing them by heart.
Despite some groups trying to preserve the traditional masculine role of the male mounting the stilts, society has progressed and changed and groups now accept that women will mount the stilts. This allows the predominately women based groups to carry on the stilt dance tradition.
The different dances
- La polka de l’Adour : This dance represents the flooding of the river at different times throughout the year.
- Cordon bleu : this dance was performed after eating a fantastic meal prepared by the cooks to show their thanks and appreciation.
- Lou Peyroutoun : this dance tells the story of the trials and tribulations of a man who goes hunting.
- Adichats : which in Patois (old traditional language) means ‘au revoir’, was therefore a dance performed to say goodbye to the people present.
- Les rondeaux : most villages in The Landes region created various Rondos which represented the village; le rondeau de St Sever, le rondeau de Retjons, le rondeau de Garein…