The Dance of the ‘Seises’ in Seville, Spain
- When: Immaculate Conception on 8th December 2018, during Carnival in February/March 2019, Corpus Christi in June 2019
- Where: Seville, Spain
- Website: sevillanísimo.es
Every year, the capital city of the Spanish region of Andalusia, Seville, hosts a celebration that is eagerly anticipated by all the inhabitants, known as the “Baile de los Seises”, or the “Dance of the Six”.
This particular event takes place in front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Seville, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and happens only three times throughout the year, on dates close to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at Carnival time and at the Christian celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi.
What are “los seises”? The "sixes" in the name refers to the young boys who form the choir. A group of ten children perform a surprising and lively dance in front of the High Altar of the Cathedral on this occasion. The boys’ dance is made even more spectacular by their extraordinary voices that accompany it. Some have even called it a work of art in front of a work of art, considering that the Retablo high altar is the largest altar in the world.
The dance has ancient origins, which is why the children are dressed in traditional medieval clothing like wide pants and close-fitting, old-fashioned jackets. These waistcoats, called “juboncillos” in Spanish, are of a red colour for the days of the Corpus Christi, and blue for the days of the Immaculate Conception. All this is completed with the traditional feathered hat, a sash that crosses the chest, socks and shoes lined with satin and the characteristic high, rigid neck collar.
The history of a traditional Spanish festival in Andalusia
Why is it called the dance of the six if there are ten dancers? As mentioned before, the name of the dance derives from the number of singers, which was originally only six. This changed over the years, being 12, 8 and 11 for a time, but now they have settled on having ten dancers. Even so, they retain the name “los seises” for the sake of tradition, which is very important in Spain and in the Catholic church.
The dance was born in medieval times in Spain and was held for several centuries until the archbishop of Seville, Jaume de Plaxes, decided to prohibit it, considering it a legacy of pagan culture, or probably to reaffirm his ecclesiastical power over the city’s craft guilds. In fact, tradition dictated that the group of young boys be made up of the children of the city's artisans.
The Sevillians, however, were determined not to lose what for them was a very important custom. Thanks to their determination, they were able to obtain a papal bull from Pope Eugene IV, who authorised the city of Seville to continue the tradition of the Dance of the Sixes.
In the sixteenth century, it was the Colegio de San Isidoro which developed the school of singers, where children lived, studied, sang, danced and learned to be altar boys. It was in this school where the famous dance was perfected, which was originally carried out only for Corpus Domini and only later extended to other events.
To witness an authentic Spanish festival in beautiful and sunny Andalusia with all the pomp and circumstance that only the Catholic church can provide, head to Seville on any of the religious dates when it is held in 2018 and 2019 and see the Baile de los Seises.