Ri Ualanegli knows how to produce a Folk Dance Festival! If you can’t get to Pontelandolfo – and I encourage you to get here – you can see the festival streamed live on Pontelandolfonews.com and on FaceBook Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo. Save those links! Save the dates – July 31, August 1 & 2. At the end of the blog there is a complete schedule of events – don’t forget the time difference if you want to catch the live stream. The commercial will wet your appetite for folk dance and if that doesn’t work, read on about the two other Italian companies that will be in the festival – Urbanitas and La Pacchianella.
Based in the town of Apiro, Urbanitas, formed in 1933, shares the rural traditions and culture of the 19th-century Marches. This was a period of abject poverty. There were rare occasions for festivals. Because they were rare, the festivals were incredibly unique and intense. The peasants of the Marches, accompanied by sprightly music enjoyed themselves dancing that bordered on the phrenetic.
The company was included in the filming of Dino Risi’s Straziami ma di Baci Saziami,starring Nino Manfredi. They have also been seen on both regional and national television.
Since the 1970s, Urbanitas has collaborated with the town of Apiro and produced an annual international folkloric festival, Terranostra Apiro.
This folk group claims to be one of the oldest – founded in 1923 – and most famous Italian group. They come from Monte Sant’Angelo in Foggia – noted for the white line of terraced houses and in the Christian world for its ancient rocky shrine where in 490 The Archangel Michael appeared. I thought it was interesting that their costumes hint of Spain and reflect the Spanish rule of the area. Lots of color, tons of gold – bling personified – is fun to watch and adds panache to the dances. They have toured the world and made a number of films including one by Disney on folk lore. This video has them dancing in front of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower!
The other day I visited la mia sarta, mydress maker, Rosa, and found her working on the smallest pair of traditional boys britches I had ever seen. “Are they for a large doll”, I stupidly asked. Cara, questi sono per il più giovane membro di Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo! What she meant was – “you silly cluck – it is dance season and I make all the costumes. This is for the youngest member of the company – a two year old!” Many of our village’s kids are learning about their heritage by performing with the dance company, Ri Ualanegli.
Not only do they learn the dances, but they explore the stories behind the dances. Learning about the contadini, serfs and farmers, who worked the land and just how they worked it. Extended families still live together here and children see their elders planting gardens, harvesting olives, pressing tomatoes into sauce and still eating and cooking in a traditional way. Through the dance company, these piccolo dancers gain an even greater understanding of who they are and what life was like in their home town. History lessons are a natural part of the dance lesson! My Arts Educator brain just took over – think about it – these kids are having fun, learning about their culture and have the opportunity to grow as self confident, creative problem solving adults! Yeah for Dance! YOU CAN SEE THESE TALENTED KIDS LIVE – HERE IN PONTELANDOLFO – JULY 31, AUGUST 1ST AND 2ND.Here are a group of kids dancing in 2014 – wade through the introduction and you will get to the dance – note the older kids helping the babes in dance along –
Other children are fascinated with the old sounds and music that accompany the dancers. It makes my heart burst with joy to see the little guy learning the musicality of the fisarmonica – accordion – from the old masters. This instrument, featured in the folk group Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo and other Italian folk companies, looks a small accordion. These kids who rock out the local Tarantella don’t know it yet but they too are accepting the responsibility of passing on the culture of their village. The traditional music reflects moments in our historic time line. The songs are of joy, fear and love. I was delighted a few weeks ago to listen to a recital done by a group of young musicians. The traditional music of the Sannio Hills will live on through this and ensuing generations.
This past week, a group of Pontelandolfese men made sure that the sport that I never heard of before I came here was passed down to the little men who would make up the teams of the future. These kids began by strapping cord to their arms, loading up a wheel of cheese and letting it fly! Welcome to ruzzola del formaggio – cheese rolling. Actually, this weekend was our Festa di Formaggio with competitions for children and adults. Of course, there was also the tasting of yummy local cheeses. This was the first annual Festa di Formaggio so plan on being here next year for it!
These wee cheese rolling wonders were working with adults who have been part of Pontelandolfo’s award winning team. Ruzzola del Formaggio competitions are incredibly serious. The winner gets to keep the cheese – it does get eaten! There are teams from all over Italy. Those teams would not exist and that tradition continue if villages didn’t keep the sport alive.
Passing the cultural torch is important for all villages and equally important for families. Share those tales. Write down those recipes. Dance the dances your grandparents danced. Let your children learn about who they are and where their roots are.
Don’t forget to come to Pontelandolfo on July 31St! Explore our culture and enjoy our art!
I went to YouTube and entered JEKA, the name of this Serbian company. The first video I saw reminded me of the Rockettes in perfect Radio City Music Hall formation. Then the music got faster and faster and the formations kept going and going. I was exhausted, but enthralled.
If you are in Italy – or a cheap plane ride away – come visit Pontelandolfo this July 31, August 1 & 2. I’ve seen a number of folkloric festivals over the years but this one, produced by Ri Ualanegli Pontelandolfo offers incredible diversity. (I did an earlier post on the group from Poland and more are to follow.)
The folk dance group Jeka is from Obrenovac, Serbia. They have been performing since 2010 and have over 200 dancers, musicians and singers working together. I wonder if they will all be in our little village? Jeka performs dances from all regions of Serbia, including central Serbia’s popular Sumadija and Kolubara. The artistic team includes – ethnomusicologist Biljana Konjevic (folk orchestra and folk singer group), choreographer, Jelena Stanisic and president, Nenad Mandic.
A typical form of Serbian folk dances is “kolo”. This is a chain of dancers holding each other – this is what I started watching. The dancing is ideally in a circle. After “kolo” comes “lesa” – a single chain in line or in two parallel lines, moving left and right, back and forth. Sounds simple – but you try to keep 30 people in two exactly parallel lines.
I read that Serbian folk costumes have a distinctive place in the tradition of the Serbian people. Their role throughout history, as symbols of ethnic identity, was of great importance. Every region inhabited by the Serbs had a distinctive folk costume. The outfit revealed not only someone’s origin, butin multicultural regions it was a recognizable sign of ethnicity. You will see hand-woven skirts and vests filled with colorful designs and patterns.
Note that I said, “you will see”. I sincerely hope you an make it to the 2017 Folk Festival on July 31, August 1 & 2 in Pontelandolfo (BN).
Thank you Associazione CulturaleRi Ualanegli Pontelandolfo for bringing an international Folk Dance Festival to Pontelandolfo! Timing in life is everything, and I am incredibly lucky to be here this summer. Ri Ualanegli is bringing some of the best folk dance companies in the world to our corner of the universe on August 31, July 1 and July 2. Since, Ruth St. Denis invaded my body (mother of modern dance in America) 40 years ago, I have been a dance junky. As such, I couldn’t just write about the festival – I had to – needed to – felt compelled to write about each of the companies that will be performing. No matter what your heritage, you will appreciate feeling the music, spirit and passion of these companies.
The Polish Folk Dance Group Przygodawas created in 1972 and has been on the road ever since. Their home is Rybnik city in the Upper Silesia. Like many folkloric companies, they strive to encourage not only youth but the world at large to understand and appreciate the traditions and culture of Poland. One might think pierogis seem a lot like ravioli but they are as unique in their flavor as this company is to the Italian folk companies that will be performing. The Polish dance company has shared its heritage in places like Canada, Denmark, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, South Africa and now Pontelandolfo!
Przygoda performs the dances and the folklore of Poland’s different regions. As is important to the Polish tradition, the company sings and dances, maintaining a balance between the two. The musicians play violins, violas, flutes, clarinets, bass and of course – the accordion. To enhance the regionalisms and make sure the dancers fully understand their heritage, all participate in making the costumes. The costumes are all handmade -including the embroidery. Natural materials, appropriate to the given region, are a must.
Just because they have been winning international awards from Chile to Romania, isn’t the only reason you should come to Pontelandolfo to see Przygoda perform. You should come, because the opportunity to see companies of this caliber performing in the same festival is something that doesn’t happen often. You should also come because this dance junky wants to see a huge audience for this festival! Be there – I’m taking attendance.
Ci Vediamo – July 31, August 1 and August 2 in Piazzo Roma, Pontelandolfo (BN).
Now, I’m not sure what a Patron Saint does. I asked Jack who went through 16 years of Catholic Education and he said, ” Nothing now, they’re dead”. After I tossed an apple at him he continued. They used to do miracles, now they are a conduit to God. Folks ask them for help. Ah, I said. Believing there are no coincidences, I began to wonder why in the play I just finished, Mamma Mia – La Befana?! one of the characters asked San Antonio for his help. I thought I had used the name San Antonio because I was finishing the play, here in Ponteladolfo and the festa for him was plastered on posters everywhere. When I looked him up on Wikipedia it said:
St Anthony is venerated all over the world as the Patron Saint for lost articles, and is credited with many miracles involving lost people, lost things and even lost spiritual goods.
Woowoo time. In Mamma Mia – La Befana everyone is looking for the little lost girl, Mary. (This is a secret commercial for my new play, Mamma Mia – La Befana?!, which is perfect for Italian American Clubs, schools, children’s theaters. It is a modern spin on the traditional Italian tale.)
Friday night, June 13 a large percentage of our local community went to the piazza to honor San Antonio. The night started with a mass –
moved on to procession –
and culminated with fireworks.
In the middle, was a performance by the youth dance company, I Bebiani di Circello and our favorite – Ri Ualanegli Juonior, the junior company of Pontelandolfo’s folklorico troupe. The company tours internationally!
Before I share a video of the local favorite, I need to tell you that the woowoo gets better. I asked a few people why the children’s company seems to always dance for San Antonio. The answer – he is also the dude who watches over children. Boy did I score a home run picking him to be part of my play about a lost child!
Enjoy the video clip of our young dancers on June 13!