"A trip through the history of the tarantella" 
"From the myth of Arakne to the dance of the Attarantatis" 

The company Arakne Mediterranea with his seat in Martignano in the Grecía salentina is composed by studious artists and researchers who since fifteen years, with the collaboration of the university of Salento, former University of Lecce, has the main goal to preserve and to spread the traditions and the expressions of the popular culture of the Salento.  
The association has given life to a numerous forms of dances and popular songs, it was founded by George Di Lecce and directed by Imma Giannuzzi, and it performs the show on the history of the tarantella: the dance show, sung and played live by the beginning to its end, is a trip which starts with

1) the myth of Arakne (from wikipedia) : the young Greek princess who was turned by the goddess Atena into spider, (according to the myth described by Ovidio, in the Metamorphoses), today taranta ( see also The story of Arachne by  
2) From the myth of Arakne the company moves to tarantelles, the ancient dances known since the middle age which attract in full the attention of the public, able to involve it and bring it back in the time, by the fascinating vocal sonorous atmosphere and dances of the masks and colors, dipping it in that seventeenth-century environment when the companies were named "Comedy of the art", which moved frequently between Naples and the Apulia.

In the second part the company puts in scene the Three TARANTEs, Taranta Pinches a dances curative, individual and collective, which takes origin from the ancient rite of the recovery of the tarantatis and from their pilgrimage to Galatina, (nearly studied in way "definitive" from Ernesto De Martino as a phenomenon of vast cultural course); la Pizzica de core (or rather "of the joy": fundamentally, a dance jumped by mixed couple to fast rhythm, that today all, great and small persons dance especially during popular "feste" , marriages, baptisms, family party, while once was danced inside the family, in file group of frontal couples or to quadriglia); fencing Pinches (or dance of the knives: a dance for couples, to them antagonist, which is especially danced in the night between 15 and 16 August during the "festa" of S Rocco, in Torrepadulì, near Ruffano (Lecce), and in which in the past it was foresaw the presence of knives in the hands of the dancers in an endless nighttime challenge).

In the third part the company with the aid of the pizziches and tarantelle of Apulia puts in prominence the activities of different generations of Pugliesi, minds and different feelings as those of job, of "feste" or of emigrations who communicated among them thanking to the music and the dance; the all is performed also involving the public creating so a splendid tuning between the stage and the spectators through colors and rhythms of the popular "salentine" tradition. 

The contents of the performance derives from centuries and centuries of history of the ATTARANTATIs (people who had been biten either in the real or in the symbolic life by the spider, taranta) and who during popular demonstrations, parties, official ceremonies, manifest these choreographic epidemics through notes unbridled and eccentric dances and this caused them to be considered sick of the dance. 

The last testimony of Giorgio di Lecce was performed on June 29th 1993, with the final dances of an elder woman tarantata who performed the rite dancing for 26 years (cfr; Di Lecce Giorgio, "it Dances her some taranta"). 

Notes by Arakne Mediterranea group - see also the Arakne Mediterranea curriculum

Marco Boiti, Lecce
Flora Pempinelli, Lecce

Mark J. Ablowitz, Boulder
Andrei K. Pogrebkov, Moscow

Università del Salento
Consorzio EINSTEIN



Workshop Secretariat and web design: Maria Concetta Gerardi - phone & fax +39 0832 297467