Dancing at Dusk: Italian Folk Dancing

Alessandra Belloni and I Giullari di Piazza

Wed, July 8, 2015, 5:00pm


Take a fiery journey to Southern Italy by way of tarantella: folk dances traditionally performed to heal mythical tarantula bites. Dressed as a variety of masked characters, stilt dancer Mark Mindek joins your little ones in a wild dance party.

Alessandra Belloni, percussion, vocals and dancer
John La Barbera, guitars and mandolin
Susan Eberenz, flutes and recorders
Joe Deninzon, violin
Mark Mindek, Danielle Hartman, Amara, dancers

Dancing at Dusk is a Caramoor summer tradition, enjoyed by families and those who simply like to experience joyful sounds. Held on the spacious lawn of Friends Field, D@D offers you a chance to learn about and dance to music from around the globe.

5:15pm – 5:25pm
Live show begins

Live show ends

Artist meet and greet

Event closes

I Giullari di Piazza (“The Jesters of the Suare”)

Devoted to presenting authentic Southern Italian music/dance/theater dating back to the 13th century, the group also creates new musical and theatrical works based on folk music and dance, ritual theater, and commedia dell’ arte. The group’s founders spent many years researching the songs, dances and ritual chants of southern Italy. The Italian-born and award winning percussionist, singer, dancer actress Alessandra Belloni, called a “Mediterranean volcano,” is regarded as an important voice in traditional southern Italian music and dance today. She is the only woman in the US and in Italy who specializes in traditional Southern Italian folk dances and percussion that she learned from tradition bearers in Southern Italy. For over 20 years she participated in drumming festivals in remote areas of Southern Italy, held as rituals of purification in honor of the Black Madonna. She was voted as one of the top percussionists in the worldbeat category by Drum magazine and has toured worldwide, appearing at major festivals and venues. John La Barbera is an award-winning composer and recognized as one of the first transcribers of Southern Italian folk music in America. The composer of original folk operas for I Giullari di Piazza, he has also written works for such documentary films as Sacco and Vanzetti (2007) and the Academy Award-nominated Children of Fate (1992).

I Giullari di Piazza spent ten years in residence at the Center for Italian Studies at New York University, and has been artist-in-residence for 15 years at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The group’s acclaimed productions include Tarantella – Spider Dance; Stabat Mater: Donna de Paradiso, the Easter Opera; The Dance of the Ancient Spider, a trip into the world of exorcisms; The Voyage of the Black Madonna, depicting Virgil’s trip around the world in search of the Black Madonna; The Adventures of Don Giovanni and His Servant Pulcinella, performed in commedia dell’arte style; and La Cantata dei Pastori, the humorous Christmas show that was performed as it has been for hundreds of years in street presentations in Naples.

The company has toured Italy and the US, appearing at such venues as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts where they regularly teach educational programs called DAY IN THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE, Madison Square Garden, the Smithsonian Institute, the Metropolitan Museum, Giants Stadium, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. It was featured recently on ABC TV live in Chicago , and in Spider Sex, a National Geographic documentary on spiders in which the group performed an authentic tarantella as a healing trance ritual. The company can be heard on many recordings, including Tarantelle e Canti d’Amore (Naxos World) and Tarantata: The Dance of the Ancient Spider (Sounds True), which was named one of the best world music CDs of the year (2002) in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

I Giullari di Piazza, New York’s Southern Italian folk music/dance/theater company now in its 35th year, presents a program of ecstatic dances, musical exorcisms, and the tarantella trance dance. The program includes excerpts from the company’s production “Tarantella – Spider Dance” which feature the wild erotic dance ritual (pizzica tarantata) from Southern Italy used to cure the mythical bite of the tarantula (“the bite of love”). This ancient healing trance dance and exorcism was used to cure a mental disorder called tarantismo, which afflicted mainly women, who felt stuck in the spider web of their society. The program also includes the tarantella delle streghe (witches’ dance) from the Renaissance; the medieval danza della morte, the spinning dance of death performed on stilts; powerful ritual drumming and healing chants in honor of the Black Madonna; lullabies; love ballads; and original songs by Alessandra Belloni and John La Barbera, the group’s co-founders and directors.


Alessandra Belloni

Tambourine virtuoso/singer/dancer/actress Alessandra Belloni is renowned in her field and travels worldwide to perform group and solo concerts in theaters, universities, and international percussion festivals. Belloni began her career in her native Rome with the great actress Anna Magnani in “La Lupa,” and with legendary film director Federico Fellini in “Casanova.” She is Artistic Director/Leading Performer of I Giullari di Piazza, an ensemble of musicians/vocalists/dancers that specializes in authentic Southern Italian music and theater events, dating back to the 13th century. Belloni is a REMO artist and designer of her signature series of Italian tambourines; she is also author of the book & DVD “Rhythm is the Cure,” published by Mel Bay. The only artist in the world who specializes in Southern Italian tambourines combined with singing and dance, Belloni was selected as one of the best percussionists in the world by DRUM! Magazine, and has been acclaimed in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, featured in Modern Drummer and Percussive

She has been invited to appear in percussion festivals in London, Brazil, Poland, France, Italy, Australia, Rome, and throughout the U.S.