The Tarantella is a dance which for many is derived from the celebrations which honoured the god Dionysus, and for others is derived from ‘Tarantismo’, a possessed-dance for auto-inducing a state of trance.
In Spain the Tarantella, a sort of hybrid dance of fandango and folly, came accompanied by the ‘vihuela’, an ancient instrument which re-emerged during the Renaissance.
The three dances are homeopathic in nature and serve to keep at a distance any negative influences: characteristically the obsessive repetition and almost hypnotic movements and emotive music create a sort of alliance with the possessed spirit allowing the elimination of the symtoms of illness.
The Tarantella has assumed local forms and become a communal dance for all to rediscover differing versions which have developed through the ages.
Amongst the most famous Tarantella dances, are those of Campania and Puglia; of particular artistic relevance is the Sorrento Tarantella, noted internationally for the music and the costumes. Distinguishing it from other Tarantella dances is the gavotte timing, whilst amongst the others one see’s a semblance of a polka, with a fast, obsessed rhythm throughout the dance. The other distinctive characteristic of the Sorrento Tarantella is that it is principally a dance of love that emerges for the viewers in an atmosphere of magic and idyll.
To give the connotation of ‘sweet’ to this Sorrento dance is in fact because the spectacle was adapted in a time when the public were prevalently noble families: the traditional popular dance then became more ‘correct’ with the elimination of any reference to violence and/or sexual conquer in a time more specifically differentiated in terms of elegance, grace and simplicity.
During the execution of the Sorrento Tarantella, there are certain moments dedicated to the musical repositioning of the more beautiful Sorrentine and Napoletanesi melodies. The singers are accompanied by dancers, who in many instances, use the sounds of the typical Napoletan folk instruments such as the tamburelli and nacchere.
Also worth notable mention are the costumes worn by the dancers of the Sorrento Tarantella who have maintained the original detail and style of the costumes dating back to the 18th century.