Alessandra Belloni & I Giullari di Piazza
TARANTELLA: SPIDER DANCE
A mystical and sensual music and dance production, about the history of the dance TARANTELLA, a wild erotic Most specifically, the performance harkens back to the historic Dance of the Tarantula, a healing trance dance for women from the Greek rites of the "Baccantes." Women involved in these rites, called Tarantate, danced the "Pizzica Tarantata" ("the bite of the spider tarantula," also called "the bite of love"). A bite of love supposedly drove them to dance in a wild frenzy in order to free themselves of repressed sexual desires. The dominant music was percussion, with large tambourines playing non-stop to a 12/8 beat, with loud accents. By spinning and stomping their feet, participants symbolically expelled the "poison" of the mythical bite of the tarantula from their bodies. A double row of jingles on the instruments accentuated the madness as dancers, traditionally clad in white with red scarves and ribbons, moved on their backs like spiders. All participants customarily experienced a trance-like state induced by the combination of music and dancing.
Instrumentation in "Tarantella: Spider Dance" combines the traditional and the modern. Traditional percussion will include tambourines, frame drums, dumbeck, riqq and castanets. Modern instrumentation will include drum set, electric violin, techno beats and electronic music.
In the piece's underlying story, Arachne, played by aerial dancer Fran Sperling, challenges the Goddess Athena, played by percussionist/singer Alessandra Belloni, into a weaving contest. Arachne wins and Athena, taken by jealousy, destroys her competitor's creation. A humiliated Arachne commits suicide and hangs herself from a tree. Athena then transforms her into a spider, thus condemning her to weave her web forever. The show goes on to tell the story of a woman (played by Alessandra Belloni) wrongly accused of being a witch during a winter solstice gathering in the woods. She is not allowed to express her sexual desires becomes a tarantata. Her only cure for depression is to dance the Tarantella. The performance concludes with a collective trance dance cleansing ceremony. The audience is invited to participate in this celebration of life and love with dancing and wine.
The musical ensemble includes Alessandra Belloni (lead vocals, southern Italian percussion and ritual dance), musical director is Joe Deninzon (electric and acoustic violin). and John La Barbera (classical acoustic guitar, chitarra battente, oud), Vinnie Sciala (pecussion) and Neapolitan Singer Giuseppe De FAlco. The story is narrated in magical setting by powerful actress Cynthia Enfield.
The dance company includes eight dynamic dancers and fire dancers of different cultural backgrounds. These include Caterina Rago, a dancer from the Martha Graham Company; Julya Royter , fire dancer also; stilt dancer Mark Mindek and various Italian folk dancers who also will whirl in a Sufi dance. Set design is by Arden Mason
The Sun (Antonio Pio Fini) on stilts in Maypole Dance. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
Joe Deninzon, musical director, has been hailed by critics as “The Jimi Hendrix of the Violin”, because of his innovative style on the electric seven-string violin and his compositions combining jazz and rock with Gypsy influences. A musician who transcends many genres, he has recorded and performed with artists including Sheryl Crow, Everclear, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple, Smokey Robinson, Les Paul, and most recently at Madison Square Garden with Bruce Springsteen. He has also performed Richard Einhorn’s “Red Angels” as a solo electric violinist with the New York City Ballet. His band, Stratospheerius (www.stratospheerius.com), has released four CD's and was named "Best Jam Band" in the Musician’s Atlas Independent Music Awards. He is a ten-time BMI composer’s grant recipient and a winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. His original music has been used on CMT, MTV VH1, Comedy Central, National Geographic, the Travel Channel and the History Channel among others. http://www.joedeninzon.com/
John La Barbera (arrangements), originally from Southern Italy, is co-founder of I Giullari Di Piazza.. He has developed, taught and transcribed traditional Italian music in the US since 1979. He has composed music for several films and documentaries, including "Sacco and Vanzetti," "Children of Fate" and the "Souls of Naples" with John Torturro.The sound track of the production is available on a CD,. Selections can be found on i-tunes.