Tarantella – Spider Dance
I have the honor and privilege of working with Alessandra Belloni, world famous hand drummer and Italian folk dance & music performer. As a kid, my mother used to take me to Commedia Dell’Arte performances done by Belloni’s group, I Giullari di Piazza. I can still recall the blood-red masks with long noses and angled eyes – the theatrical art form is based on improvisation, and though I was too young to understand the dirty jokes (actually, they were filthy, but spoken in the Neapolitan dialect so I didn’t understand much at the time), I was still in awe of the way these actors danced and moved their bodies. With a mask, your ability to express emotion with your face is frozen, so the rest of your body is your only way to convey a story. The exagerated movements look like a dance in itself. It’s really inspiring (and extremely entertaining) to watch!
I found Belloni again last year, and decided to feature her and some of her dancers in the Bare Feet Italian episode – she is the only known promoter/dancer/performer/instructor of Southern Italian Folk Dance in all of NY. And now I am dancing with her and her company in the performance of Tarantella! Spider Dance, a history of how the Tarantella dance originated (Commedia Dell’Arte masks included). You might think the Tarantella is that dance that you do at big, fat Italian weddings where everyone gets in a circle and starts doe-see-doe-ing around the room…you have a lot to learn, my friend.
Performances are Jan 13th-16th at the Theater for the New City (155 1st Ave @ 10th St, New York, NY, 212.868.4444 for tickets).