The Ortisei folk dance group comes from Val Gardena, a valley long nearly 30 km, also called in Ladin Gherdëina. The towns of the valley are Ortisei, St. Christina and Selva. In 1600 in Val Gardena developed alongside agriculture also the art of carving wood and it is thanks to it that this wonderful valley became known throughout the world. At first were carved wooden toys, animals and figures of various sizes, then woodcarvers ended sculpting mainly religious subjects. Val Gardena street vendors put in shoulder baskets full of statues and went from house to house to sell wood carvings or barter them for fabrics and lace. They brought their relatives and acquaintances silk, ribbons, lace, coral necklaces and other jewelry to sew and decorate Val Gardena traditional costumes.
Val Gardena was renowned not only for sculpture, but also for the first ascents in the Dolomites. Paul Grohmann was the pioneer who opened different paths on the Dolomites. At the beginning of the 20th century the first tourists arrived in the area. The First World War interrupted this first period of mountain tourism, but later on it was able to recover thanks to the winter tourism, boosted by the opening of many hotels and ski lifts. Today the valley lives mainly on tourism. Every year many tourists come to our valley and carry a positive image of the beauty and peculiarity of Val Gardena.
The folk dance group “Grupa Balarins de Gherdëina Urtijëi” was founded in 1963 and has been active without interruption since then. The group dances traditional folk dances based on a long tradition thereunder typical dances for thanksgiving, dances having the intent to attract the other gender and also typical “Schuhplattler”. The “Schuhplattler” dances are demonstrated by male dancers only. All dancers are wearing the “Grödner-Tracht” (traditional costume) which is known as one of the most beautiful and most precious of the alpine area. Due to numerous performances in our country as well as abroad and on TV, the group is very well known far beyond South Tyrol.