Introduction
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Introduction Honolulu, April 26, 2006—it is a late-spring afternoon, and the hot air in the non-air-conditioned dance classroom reserved for our tarantella workshop is an evident reminder that the long Hawaiian summer is behind the door. There are about fifty workshop attendees in the room, many of whom are young college students taking my and my colleagues’ Italian classes at the University of Hawai‘i’sMānoa(UHM)campus;acoupleofItalianAmericanfriendsfromthe local community are there, eager to participate in one of the rare local cultural events related to Italian culture. The air is filled with humidity and growing impatience mixed with anticipation. To buy a little more time, I ask the crowd what they know about tarantella, their puzzled looks an unmistakable cue for theremotenessofItaliancultureonthisPacificshore.Finally,ourspecialguest, New York City–based Italian artist Alessandra Belloni, enters the room, her longpitch-blackhairdown,herlongandflowingwhiteskirtonawhitetop,her heavy gypsy-style makeup and ethnic jewelry—at first sight, the outfit looks like a mix of gypsy, hippie, and New Age. FramingherdarkfeaturesandHawai‘i-tancomplexion,aHawaiianhibiscus hairclipremindstheaudienceofthepervasiveglobalizationofNativeHawaiian culture. As Belloni starts playing her southern Italian tambourine and singing southern Italian folk songs, the exotic yet realistic quality of her performance immediately comes to life. Her voice, her laughter, her whole persona is there 2  •  Introduction tocreatetheimageofanextremelyenergetic,passionate,andseductiveMediterraneanwoman —undoubtedlyamorefamiliarimagethanthatoftarantella, especiallygiventhesimilaritiesbetweentheNativeHawaiianandtheMediterranean tourist paradise. To make up for our late start, Belloni decides to continue the workshop beyond the allotted time; some rush out the door because they have other plans, but many decide to stay. We end up dancing and sweating for what seems like hours and hours, and the increasingly hot room resonates with many shrills of joy and shared laughter. I feel ecstatic to share singing, playing, and dancing from my hometown with friends and colleagues from other parts of Italy, the United States, and internationally. Later that night, my Italian colleagues and I, most of whom belong to the Italian “brain drain” (fuga dei cervelli), stay longer to eat and chat with Alessandra .1 As we share our life stories and the reasons that brought us all to the United States and to Hawai‘i, I realize that Alessandra has not only been to all the music and dance festivals in my hometown and nearby areas but has also met local drummer Raffaele Inserra, one of the major performers in my region and from whom I bought my own frame drum in 2009.2 Alessandra has visited him very often over the years, learned drum techniques from him, bought several handmade drums from his lab, and even asked his seamstress wife to make several costumes for her U.S. and international shows. Thiswasmyfirstexperiencewith“globaltarantella,”amusicanddancephenomenon that, also thanks to our gathering that night, has traveled worldwide from a very localized tradition in southern Italy to far-off Pacific islands, passing by New York City and the West Coast, where Belloni has widely performed over the years for both Italian and non-Italian audiences. Having hosted Belloni ’s workshops for seven consecutive years, from 2006 to 2013, I have cherished our encounters not only because they offered me the possibility of singing and dancing tarantella far away from home, but especially for their cultural significance, as they played a role in introducing Italian culture to a U.S. and foreign audience. Ultimately, my experience as both organizer and participant in Belloni’s workshops has made a strong impact on this project, since it raised anumberofquestionsregardingtherepresentationof(southern)Italianculture intheUnitedStatesandwithinaglobalizedperformanceframework—howitis conveyed, how it affects global audiences’ view of Italian culture, and to what extent it perpetuates or challenges certain stereotypes about Italian culture in theUnitedStates.Italsoraisedquestionsregardingmyownrolesasa“local”removedfromthesouthernItaliancontextandatthesametimearepresentativeof Figure 1. Flyer for Belloni’s 2008 workshop at the UHM campus; flyer by Lorenzo Rinelli 4  •  Introduction thatculturewithinaforeign(andacademic)context,especiallyonesoremoved and different as Hawai‘i’s. As Belloni often put it during the workshops, I was the only one in the room who knew southern Italian folk music and dances as theyareperformedatthesouthernItalianfestivalsandwhohadfamiliaritywith their cultural context. Belloni’s introduction would thus assign me a privileged position but also suggest the need for further reflection on my own as well as theperformer’srole(andresponsibility)inpresentingandtranslatingsouthern Italian culture for both other Italians and foreign audiences.3 This book is first and foremost an attempt at answering these questions. Tarantella and Its Competing Images The variety of southern Italian folk music and dance traditions that I examine in this book is more or less directly linked to the term tarantella; here I employ tarantella as an umbrella term...


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