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With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Voices of the Tarantate consisting of an all female ensemble, I arrived to the performance expecting an empowering, feminist show. Voices of the Tarantate did not disappoint on that front, but it ended up being so much more than that.

I'll be completely honest; when I arrived at Theater for the New City on Friday night, picked up my program, and began reading about the performance, I thought to myself, "What have I gotten myself into?" Trance dance, drumming, chanting, African percussion- those were just a few things I saw in the program that made me start to sweat. As a twenty-three year old who loves tap dance and contemporary, I began planning my escape route. Like so many people my age (and let's be honest, older folks as well) I was nervous about something I was not familiar with. In the end, however, I left this performance feeling culturally richer and educated, as well as in awe of the passionate dancing I had just witnessed.

For those of you like me who have never heard of the Tarantate, or the Tarrantata, let me give you a little background history. These dances are "healing dances," originating in Italy in honor of the Black Madonna, a dark-skinned Virgin Mary. They involve singing, drumming and trance dance, which is a fast-paced, stomping dance that is all soul and rhythm. The "Tarantella" is appropriately named "the spider dance" by Alessandra Belloni, the writer, director, choreographer, and front-woman of the show, and is a healing dance for depression caused by sexual abuse.

Belloni, who sang, masterfully played the drums, danced, and even composed a few musical pieces in the show, was admirable. She shared her story of recovering from cancer as she opened the show, then encouraged women to come together and heal one another, whether from sickness or abuse. Her passion for dance and music was plain to see, and it was that passion that made this performance so beautiful. Francesca Silvano was another stand-out performer. She was graceful, passionate, and completely let go, moving freely to the music, all while still managing to point her toes. The fearlessness with which she danced was inspiring, and it was wonderful seeing her dance so passionately for something that she truly believes in.

All of the dancing in this performance was simple, yet beautiful to watch. There were no leaps, splits, or turns--simply dancing from the heart, which made for wonderful theater. I was able to follow and understand every movement, despite my ignorance of the culture, and left feeling enriched and educated.

I quickly realized upon arriving to the theater that I was the youngest in the audience, which is a shame. I encourage more people my age to step out of their comfort zones and experience something new. This isn't something you're likely to see on So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing with the Stars. This is dance in its purest form.

If you would like to experience the Tarantata in person, you haven't missed your chance. Belloni will be back for another performance on October 25th at Mehanata Gypsy Club, as well as dance and percussion workshops on November 1st at A Garden of Healing, November 2nd at Chapel of Sacred Mirrors and November 11th at the Italian American Museum. I encourage everyone to come out and experience this little something different.

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From This Author Kristen Dickerson

Kristen is a 23 year old writer who loves NYC! She's been dancing since the age of 4 and writing just as long. She is (read more...)