Italian Club students learn how to dance the pizzica

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — To reinforce curriculum studies on culture, students in the West Orange High School Italian Club learned the popular pizzica dance on Jan. 17.

Italian teachers Vincenza Amabile and Rosanna Zamloot, WOHS dance teacher Melissa Sande, and guest instructor Lisa Grimes of Montclair State University led the students in the step progressions required to learn the pizzica.

The pizzica is an Italian folk dance that has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity over the past several years. Contemporary music styles have been infused into the traditional rhythms of the dance, which originated on the Salento peninsula in Apulla and later spread throughout Calabria and Basilicata. The pizzica is part of the larger family of tarantelle dances with which Americans may be more familiar.

Pizzica means “the pinch” and, like the tarantella, or “spider,” the pizzica’s origins come from ancient tales of women working in the fields. If they were bitten by a spider, the only way to expel the venom was by dancing. The dance is traditionally performed as a couple dance, although often the couple is composed of two females as well as male and female.

With sashes swirling and “Zimbaria-Le sei menu nu quartu” playing, students and teachers laughed, danced and enjoyed their journey into the Calabrian countryside.

Photos Courtesy of WOSD