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Abruzzo folk dances

A journey through fun and traditions

Folk dances represent the real Abruzzo, strong and kind. After days working the fields Abruzzo provides its folk with happy, get-together times to talk about the week or how the work’s gone, how the lambing’s going in the pens, the hatching in the chicken coops and how many foals have arrived, or maybe just to take a well-earned rest from all the hard work.

All the best known and most popular folk dances of the Italian peninsular come from the heart of Abruzzo and have spread out from here: melodies whose name alone makes you want to to get up and dance and clap you hands.
These dances were about all sorts of things: but actually, there were two main types, party dances and those about courtship. The courtship dances represent the pursuit of a woman and then how she feels being in the arms of a man other than her father, for the first time.

The square dance is a dance from Italy’s best known and most widespread group of dances, again originally from Abruzzo: here you dance in pairs and couples hold hands with each other and with other couples.

The Saltarelle is a whirlwind courtship dance in which the couples form a circle and then one at a time take to the centre to perform a stylised ritual of seduction. As you might have guessed, if you know that salto’ means ‘jump’ in Italian – there are lots of skipping steps in this dance, where one foot is placed behind the other which in turn slides forward ready to take the whole body weight.
The Spallata is a folk dance from southern Abruzzo and, from what many elderly people say, weaves elements that showcase the man’s energy in with erotic allusions. For this reason, it often forms part of wedding celebrations.

Fortunately these traditions are still alive and kicking, and everywhere there are Abruzzese folk dancing groups there are also lots of young people involved, too. They’re not only keeping the traditions going but they bring them to life at all the popular music festivals, food festivals and village fetes.
Words can’t adequately describe the beauty of these dances, so whether you’re a dancer yourself or just like to watch, come and see for yourself just how exhilarating they are!


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