Discover the Tammurriata the folk dance of Campania

Discover the Tammurriata the folk dance of Campania

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The tammurriata, the “dance on the drum”, is a folk dance of Campania, belonging to the Southern ‘tarantella’ dance. It is a couple dance (can be formed by a man and a woman, two men or two women) which are particularly important arms movements.

The rhythm is binary and is marked by the tammorra, a special drum with tin bells. At the drums are also added the ‘castagnette’ similar to ‘nacchere’.
Other instruments can also be used: the human voice, the gypsy trumpet, putipù, tricheballacche, the flute and the double flute.

The story and the origins of Tammurriata

The origins of this dance are very old and date back to the greek world and the dances of the peoples of Campania, like the Sunnis.

At the time of the Greeks, the dance was considered a gift from the gods through which men could get closer to the gods and to have the illusion of immortality.

For the Sunni people, dance was a propitiatory rite connected to the reproductive cycle of the earth : tammurriata is the peasant dance par excellence.

The Seven Madonnas

The tammurriata is connected to the cult of the Seven Madonnas of Campania, which are seven sisters: the Madonna dell’Arco of Sant’Anastasia, the Madonna a Castello of Somma Vesuviana, the Madonna delle Galline of Pagani, the Madonna dei Bagni of Scafati, Madonna dell’Avvocata of Maiori,the Madonna of Montevergine in the province of Avellino and the Madonna of Briano in the province of Caserta.

These seven Madonnas correspond to various styles of tammurriata, depending on places: Nocerino-Sarnese, Amalfi Coast, Avellino and Caserta.

The differences between styles regard the gesture and the message conveyed: the dance of courtship, fighting or ludic dance.

danzatori tammurriata

How to dance Tammurriata (performance)

The tammurriata is “‘o ballo de campagnole” (farmer’s dance). The gestures used have a highly symbolic meaning and are inspired by home and field work: they can reproduce the actions of sieving flour or breaking the macaroni or may be imitations of the movements of the birds, especially the henchies.

Initially, pairs are formed through a choice based on a game of glances: the dancers establish an harmony between them and with the space. Then the circles are formed, in which there are musicians, dancers, singers and spectators. Attention: even spectators are actors, as anyone can participate in the dance.

At some point, one of the two dancers takes on a courtship or challenge role and the other can support or reject him: this phase of the dance is called ‘vutata’ or ‘rotella’.

If there is a refusal, the couple is split up and another character can come into play: a new pair is formed.
The tammurriata represents evasion from the everyday and the circle symbolizes the “stop the time”.

Where to dance Tammurriata

There are many opportunities in Campania, where you can dance the tammurriata: religious occasions, such as the festivals dedicated to the Seven Madonnas (very popular is the festival of Madonna delle Galline in Pagani, in the province of Salerno). Or in the streets during festivals and cultural events (such as the Tammorra Festival in Somma Vesuviana).

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