A unique gem in the island’s folk heritage, an icon of social togetherness, Sardinian dances are thought to have their roots back in Nuraghic times, as suggested by fascinating archaeological findings. Sardinian figure dances are marked by the symbols of the star, the cross and the wheel traced by the dancers. They are also strongly linked to fire, before which dances are still often held today. Similarly to other ancient Mediterranean peoples, Sardinians probably danced to propitiate the gods, spirits and nature. That is why they attributed magic properties to dance, music and rhythm. Although we cannot be sure that the earliest dances were accompanied by singing or music, at some point they started to be accompanied by folk instruments, and they have come to be closely linked to the music of the diatonic accordion, the harmonica and especially the launeddas (reed pipes) and the “a tenore” songs. It is amazing to witness the almost magical link between musicians and dancers, making Sardinian figure dances a powerful symbol of communal unity.
Sardinia is made up of different linguistic regions, each with its own variations of the dance, some of which have become especially popular. One of the best known is su ballu tundu, where the balladores dance in a circle. It goes back to the time when our ancient forebears danced round the fire during their sacred rites. No less fascinating are su passu torrau, meaning “the returning step”, from Mamoiada, and su dillu, widespread in the Goceano district, whose main steps are two small hops on the right foot and two on the left. Sa danza is marked by a frenzied rhythm and in the olden days it allowed the best male dancers to show off before the village girls. Today, Sardinian dances are a lively heritage thanks to the many folk dance groups devoted to maintaining this fascinating Mediterranean tradition.