A piece of history:
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.
Due to the isolation of the past, Val Gardena has its own language, Ladin, which is a Rhaeto-Romanic language which developed from vulgar Latin and the traces of the regional language after the Roman domination of the area.
Ladin in the past has been mistakenly regarded as a dialect. Today Ladin is considered as the third official language of South Tyrol together with Italian and German, and is taught in schools as a compulsory school subject, in order not to be forgotten. Ladin people, which are the smallest ethnic group in South Tyrol with about the 4% of the population, firmly maintained their roots and handed down from one generation to another the Rhaetian language through the oral tradition. Moreover the language is promoted through various publications and radio and television broadcasts. Today Ladin is seriously threatened by the use of foreign words. However it has been shown that in the majority of the population still lives the ability to perceive, think and feel as a Ladin.
Our 50th anniversary:
19 October 2013 nearly 320 former members of the group were invited to the Ortisei cultural house to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the folk dance group. The evening began with a cocktail and was accompanied musically by the “Tiroler Alpenklang” group. Many of the guests were so happy to dance that they did not even eat the main course. Ortisei’s mayor Ewald Moroder made a short speech paying many compliments to the folk dance group. It was a great honor to have on the stage the founder of group Toni Senoner, known as Toni Polizai, who briefly told how was founded the group, giving details about the dances and the costumes. If we compare the times with those of today, we can say that not much has changed. The folk dance group was and is still led by many young people who come together with joy for the rehearsals and shows.
Many dances have been passed down to this day. In fact, eight guests tried to perform on stage the famous “Watschenplattler” after many years. Not only they but also the audience had great fun watching them.
In 2014 in memory of the 50th anniversary was created a calendar with old photographs of the folk dance group of Ortisei.
We would like to give a special thanks to the organizers of the event, a particularly successful evening. However, without the help of many volunteers and sponsors it would not have been possible to organize such an event. Thanks a lot to everyone. Thanks also to all the guests who made the evening a special event.