TRADITIONAL DANCE 

OF SOUTHERN ITALY 

 

An introduction to the tarantella’s world: the different dance styles, the dynamics of couple, the

rhythmic-percussive impulse, the similarity and differences between the regions.

The course is aimed to the people who has already some experience with the dances.

It introduces the participants to the rhythmic style of a dance deeply linked to the land and its

cycles. The dance includes important improvisation skills and non-verbal communication: it is a

perfect relation between the dance, the percussion and the dancers.

The Tarantella (dance of the small Taranta) has spread in all the Mediterranean area. It finds its

origin in the pre-cristian believes that the byte of a “sacral” spider induces a possession or

trance, curable only with cycle of dance and music therapy. In the pastoral and farm

community the Tarantella continued for centuries to represent an instrument of healing. In

other cases it becomes an element of courtship, of challenge, or simply showing off the virility,

sensuality, celebrating holiday or moments of aggregation. It has spread in all the South of

Italy, developing different styles depending on the areas.

The different style of the dance in “rota” of the South regions can be included in a bigger

unique family of tarantellas, sharing common elements, even if each large geographical area

can have its own peculiar dance steps, figures or music rhythms.

The dances proposed in the workshop are a small choice between the many forms of tarantella

that you can find in the different regions of South Italy.

 

TARANTELLE SICILIANE

Today, in Sicily there are only two forms of tarantella that could be defined as traditional. The

Ballettu (couple dance man-woman, woman-woman or man-man) and the Contraddanza

(collective dance). These two are still danced in the same way and with the same aim as in the

past.

 

PIZZICA SALENTINA

The tarantella in Puglia is still alive in different forms: the pizzica tarantata (exorcism dance)

pizzica de core (courtship dance), pizzica pizzica (ladies dance), pizzica scherma (men dance).

The Pizzica tarantata is characterized by the rhythm of the tambourine on the triplet and by the

violin (or accordion) melody in off beat.

 

TARANTELLA DEL GARGANO

It belongs to the area of Puglia called Gargano. It owns a typical vocal and musical style. The

melody, usually played by the guitar BATTENTE, follows the 6/8 or 12/8 rhythm, while the vocal

one follows the 2/4 or 4/4. In this way a wonderful and unique polyrythimic melody is obtained.

The dance is a kind of intersection and fusion between the tarantella and the tammurriata.

From the tarantella it takes the bouncing evolution, while from the tammurriata it takes the

side moving and the “vuotata”, i.e. the moment in which the voice stops and the man tries to

catch the woman, blocking her with his body.

 

TAMMURRIATA

The Tammuriata have spread in some areas of Campania (a region in the South of Italy) and it is

practiced with several variations of moving across the different regions.

It is connected to the believes and ancient cults from pre-cristian origins. Today, it is danced in

the seasonal celebration connected to the holy cult of the Madonne revered in the vesuvian

area.

SICILIAN DANCES

 

POLCA, MAZURCA, VALZER, SCOTTIS came with emigrated people returning to Sicily who brought back new music from abroad. This music then changed in the time adapting to the standards of the Island. These dances in couple allowed physical contact, linking the dancers to an imaginary richer life and replaced over time almost completely

the most ancient BALLITTU (which still survives in the area of Peloritani mountains). Moreover, differently from the original dances of the North Europe, the scottis (and sometimes the mazurka too) becomes a social dance in circle, with the rearrange of the couples, taking the influence from sicilian CONTRADDANZA (countrydance).

Contraddanza is a social dance linked to the several european countrydances born between the XVI and the XVII century and arrived in Sicily around the 1700. This dance is an hybrid mix between the court dance and the folk one with a very deep ritual nature.

Today, many people still dance the contraddanza during important moments for the community (like marriages or Carnival). It is conducted (or “called”) by the dance master who calls the different figures in rhyme, using a Sicilian Freanch mixed dialect.

 

Sicilian Dances Proposed:

 

Valzer fiorato valzer in trio Bompietro (PA) *

Quattro passi scottish Maniace (CT) *

Sissa polka Bompietro (PA) *

Scòtisi circle scottish Caltavuturo (PA) *

Cuntraranza cumannata mixer dance */**

Tacco e punta circle scottish Bompietro (PA) **

Scòtis iragisi circle scottish Geraci S. (PA) **

Pirulè circle mazurka Troina (EN) **

Raspa mixer dance Bompietro (PA) **

Sciatamarra mazurka Caltavuturo (PA) **

Musetta polka Troina (EN) **/***

Ballettu danza di coppia Peloritani (ME) ***

area.

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