The team (La Colla)
The tradition of the giants has been existing in Oliana for a long time. In the late 1970s, Taurus, an enterprise from Oliana specialized in manufacturing electrical appliances, decided to buy 10 big heads (cardboard-made figures of oversized heads) and a couple of giants for the village. All those were built by the workshop El Ingenio (1977). These two giants are figures of a king and a queen with the names of the patron saints of the village: Andreu & Àngels (St. Andrew and Virgin of the Angels). For long, these figures were used during the festivities in the town, but a giant meeting, as organised in other localities, never took place. That changed in 1991 and Oliana held its 1st giant meeting with other groups from Catalonia. This meant the consolidation of the group, a colla that could attend many events and meetings in other towns to make the exchanges possible (each of the two groups that agree to do an exchange must visit the town of the other). Thus, in 1992 the Grup de Geganters i Grallers d’Oliana (Group of giant dancers and gralla -traditional Catalan instrument- players of Oliana) was created and later on constituted as a legal Association, one of the oldest associations of giants of the province and the oldest in the region of Alt Urgell.
From then on, the group organized a meeting in Oliana each year, while they also visited many other places with Andreu and Àngels. In 1998, since these two giants were considerably heavy, and the members of the group were eager to have two new figures, the Association and the Town Hall ordered the construction of Junset & Flor to the artisan Francesc Cisa. The new giants were almost as tall as the first ones, but clearly lighter, basically because of the dresses that had been designed for them, but also due to some structural modifications. Since the first appearance of the new giants, the former ones haven’t left the village anymore unless for special or exceptional meetings, and these new giants have relieved them attending the giant meetings around Catalonia. Both couples have been repainted and restored several times, and we must remember their last restoration (2015), when a group of neighbors in Oliana made a new and lighter copy of the dresses for Andreu and Àngels. While those giants weighted over 110 lb, with that change none of them is now over 85 lb.
The group also participated in the 1st National Competition of Dances of Giants in 2016, an event organized by the federation of associations of giants of Catalonia (Agrupació de Colles Geganteres de Catalunya), where they won the award to the best music score. Till that moment, the group had not had any formal dance of giants. Hence, a score was written and a choreography created for the young giants to be danced in the competition. That dance was given the name of Rius enamorats (Rivers in love), a title clearly related to the name of the giants. The score has to be played by three gralles and a snare drum. Both the music and the choreography were created by members of the group, who also performed the dance at the competition.
On the 29th July 2017, the group celebrated the 40th anniversary of Andreu, Àngels and the ten big heads; the 25th anniversary of the colla as a permanent group of dancers of giants, gralla players and percussionists, and also the affiliation of the group to the Catalan federation (ACGC). 18 groups from the 4 Catalan provinces gathered in Oliana and filled the streets of the villages with the record of 36 giants, 9 little giants and 15 big heads.
That day the dance for the old giants La campaneria (The ringing of the bells) was performed for the first time. The music is to be played by two gralles dolces, a low gralla and a snare drum, and either it or the choreography were created by members of the group. During the main town festival and related to these celebrations, the village held its first formal concert for three gralles and snare drum, performed by members of the group with scores written or adapted by themselves. The big heads went under restoration, too. It was the first time they were restored since they were built in 1970. Moreover, the group bought new uniforms with its logo printed using serigraphy.
In September, the group received the Premi Estel, an award given to the group’s career and to their perseverance to maintain the tradition of the giants in Oliana so strong and alive.
The group also took part for the first time in the Festa dels Súpers (party for children organized by a national children’s club in Catalonia). Moreover, the day of the 200th anniversary of the fair of Oliana, November 1, a unique show of dances of giants was held in the town with 3 participant groups: Oliana (award to the best score at the national competition), Bellvís (award to the best choreography at the national competition) and Mataró (2n general award at the national competition). However, the year ended with Andreu and Àngels visiting Sant Andreu de Palomar, one of the neighborhoods in Barcelona, where there was a historical giant meeting gathering all those made with the same molds at Casa Ingenio.
In 2018, the giants of Oliana travelled abroad three times: to Washington (Andreu & Àngels), Perpignan (Junset & Flor) and Oliena, at the island of Sardinia, Italy (Andreu & Àngels). The most important one was that of the US, since it lasted two weeks as part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
On the 4th August 2018, the 10 big heads changed their dresses to new ones according to their figures. Also Junset and Flor, since it was their 20th birthday. It was the first time the giants of Catalunya, Treball (Work) and Cultura (Culture), visited the village. The celebration was attended by the general director of popular culture and cultural associations of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan Government), the president and other managers of the ACGC, the president and other managers of ADIFOLK (Catalan federation for Catalan folklore promotion) and some representatives from other groups that shared the experience in Washington with the ‘ambassors’ of our group.
The group put the icing on the cake when, on the one hand, got the 2nd place at the 2nd National Competition of Giant Dances, in Amer (Girona), almost at just 0.1 points from the final score reached by Badalona, the winner. The group won this award with the dance La campaneria, written by Èric Bach and danced by Pau Jounou (Àngels) and Jesús Bach (Andreu).
On the other hand, they were also given the Award to the Group of the Year, handed over by ADIFOLK during their 1st Gala of the Year. With this two awards, Oliana has reached the top of the giants’ world after several years of work, effort and dedication. Before 2018 ended, the group still carried out another relevant activity. Thanks to the bridges built at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the group were invited by the Colla Castellera Joves Xiquets de Valls to be the heralds of their main festivity.
In 2019, the colla presented their project at the Website Award for Cultural Projects called by the iWith.ord Foundation. On April 23rd the Foundation decided to award the group with a second prize due to the social weight of the project carried out together with Sant Jordi School, from Oliana. That day the closing ceremony of the project also took place, whose main point was the presentation of the new big head of the town: Mesclat (‘mixed’). The project is still running today.
The group, appart from the roles commented above, also offers the possibility of being hired for private events:
- Llevants de taula (parades to raise funds for some celebrations)
- Traditional music or percussion for correfocs (fire parades) or other celebrations
- Performances for children entertainment
- Weddings, first communions, confirmations and bachelor parties
- Any other performance including gralles, drums and giants
Price and date: contact us
The old giants
The old giants of Oliana are Andreu and Àngels. Their names are those of the patron saints of the village: Saint Andrew and the Virgin of the Angels. These two giants were built by the workshop El Ingenio from Barcelona and funded by the enterprise Taurus. They appeared for the first time on the 2nd August 1977, during the main town festival, the day of the patron saint. The figures represent a king and a queen. They are made with a classical wooden structure and with a body of hardened paper and glue. They are singular since they were made with a couple of molds that have also been used to build many other giants in the country and from other places. Andreu is over 12 feet tall and weighs 82 lb, while Àngels is almost 12 feet tall and weighs 84 lb. These giants are only used in performances in Oliana, or in other places just if the event is clearly special. Their protocolary dance is La campaneria (The ringing of the bells), danced for the first time in the main town festival in 2017.
They young (or new) giants
The young giants of Oliana are Junset and Flor. They have the name of two rivers in the village: the river Junset and the river de la Flor (river of the Flower). These two giants were built by the artisan Francesc Cisa and paid by the town council and the Associació de Geganters i Grallers d’Oliana (our Association), and they appeared in public for the first time on the 1st August 1998, during the giant meeting of the main town festival in Oliana. The figures represent two dancers. They are made with a classical wooden structure and with a body of hardened paper and glue. Junset is over 11 feet tall and weighs 68 lb, while Flor is also over 11 feet tall and weighs 71 lb. Since these giants are lighter than the older ones, they are the ones used to go to the meetings in other villages. Their dresses were changed and renewed in 2018 thanks to Taurus funding, as it was the 20th anniversary of their construction, and were presented to the village on the 4th August at the giant meeting in Oliana. Their protocolary dance is Rius enamorats (Rivers in love), danced for the first time in 2016 at the 1st National Competition of Dances of Giants, where they won the award to the best music.
The big heads
The village also has got up to 10 big heads representing different figures, and they were made from recurrent molds like the old giants. These big heads were bought in 1977, at the same time as the old giants, and like the giants do they only appear in the giant meetings held in Oliana. Each one has a name and a specific dress, which were used for the first time in 2018 thanks to Taurus funding and were made by neighbors from the village. The names of the figures are Grouxo Marx, the Old Count, the Farmer, the Catalan, the Negro, Louis XIV, “el Gordo” (the Fat Man), the Pretty Woman, the Wolf and the Dragon, from left to right. One of their roles is to encourage kids to take part in the tradition of the giants in the village, since when they will grow up they will become giant dancers.
Rius enamorats (Rivers in love)
Dance of the young giants, Junset and Flor
Music: Èric Bach Marquès
Choreography: Josep M. Viladrich and Pau Jounou
Score – Rius enamorats
Release date: 5th June 2016 (1st National Competition of Dances of Giants, in Barcelona)
Release date in Oliana: 30th July 2016 (26th Giant Meeting of Oliana)
La campaneria (The ringing of the bells)
Dance of the old giants, Andreu and Àngels
Music: Èric Bach Marquès
Choreography: Èric Bach Marquès
Score – La campaneria
Release date: 28th July 2017 (40th anniversary of the old giants and 25th anniversary of the group, in Oliana)
|2016||Award to the best score, at the 1st National Competition of Dances of Giants|
|2017||Premi Estel, prize to an association of Alt Urgell (region) recognizing its career|
|2018||2nd Prize, at the 2nd National Competition of Dances of Giants|
|2018||Prize ADIFOLK to the Group of the year, to the best folkloric Catalan group that year|
|2019||Runners-up at the iWith Website Award for Cultural Projects, due to the social impact of our projects|
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