Italian Traditional Dancing
For many years the commonly held belief in this country has
been that the body of Italian folk music contains little more than "the" tarantella, Santa Lucia, and
a few other choreographed dances and songs in proper italian (i.e., not traditionally in dialect).
A richer tradition, still very much alive today, exists in the mountain villages of Italy and can be observed by those who wish to come in contact with a culture undominated by tourism or television. Artisans still craft their zampogne (bagpipes), ciaramelle (oboes), and organetti (small diatonic accordions), to mention only a few traditional instruments. However, almost everywhere, traditional folk dress has long been abandoned. Traditional songs are still sung in the local dialects at the table after dinner, at the wedding feast, in the osteria (tavern), or in the fields. This is the true folk heritage for italian-americans — the music of the immigrants.
Italian traditional dances are the most varied of any country in Europe, because they reflect the influence of many conquering or migrating peoples over a span of three thousand years (Greeks, North Africans, Spanish, Albanians, Normans, Austrians, French, Germans). You name them — the Italians dance them. Line dances, couple dances, improvisational dances, carnival dances, courtship dances, social dances, wedding dances, religious dances, dances of competition, game dances, and singing dances indicate some of the classifications.
Since 1975, we have been dancing with and playing the accordion and organetto, as well as other traditional instruments, for several performing international traditional dance groups in the Washington D.C. area. We have been researching and teaching Italian traditional music and dance since 1983. Most of our research has been conducted in Italian mountain villages.
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Italian folk dance, Italian village dance, Italian traditional dance, Italian folk dancing
Last revised:5 February 2011
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