Hi my lovely dears!

As you may know, I enjoy dancing, so today’s post will be about a dance that I love a lot: the tammurriata. It’s a folk dance from Campania (the region of Naples), and belongs to the family of the tarantella, the folk dance of southern Italy (I’ll make a post about it too). There are some variations on this kind of dance.

The tammurriata has very old origins. Already some mosaics in Pompeii depict what seems to be a sort of tammurriata. It is a rural dance, tied to fertility, with agricultural work evoked in the steps. It should also be mentioned that the word tammurriata was originally used only for the music, and only later was it used to denote the dance.

Mosaic with musicians from Pompeii
Mosaic with musicians from Pompeii

More precisely, tammurriata takes the name from the tammorra, a drum made of leather (usually goat or sheep) covering a wooden frame to which are attached small tin discs. Other instruments traditionally used for the tammmurriata are the putipù (a drum not beaten but played through a stick moved through a hole in the membrane), the triccheballacche (three connected wooden hammers of which the two external ones beat the central one), the scetavajasse (in Neapolitan literally meaning “housewives waker” and formed by two sticks, of which one has teeth and sometimes metallic small discs, rubbed against each other), and the flute.

Triccheballacche
Triccheballacche. From Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA).
Putipù
Putipù. From Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA).

The tammurriata is danced by couples, with the dancers in front of each other and with the man, as usual, leading. The dancers contribute actively to the music, constantly holding and playing the castanets. This is actually very important and vital to the dance, because it influences how the dancers move their arms and contributes to the whole shape of the dance.

The arms are held in front of the body with the elbows outward, and the movements that they make are basically two, inspired by agricultural activities. The first is a downwards gesture of sowing. The second is an upwards gesture that resembles the movements made when collecting fruit from trees. The steps of the tammurriata follow the rhythm of the drums and are characterized by mirrored movement of the feet, side-to-side, back and forth, or toe-to-heel of the two dancers. All in all, the dancers move in circles.

Characteristic of the tammurriata are the so-called “vutate” (turnings), figures in which the dancers turn in different ways. The music is quicker during the vutate. There are several kinds of these vutate, in which the dancers are face-to-face or shoulder-to-shoulder or are in a sort of hug or entangle their legs. The vutate have several kinds of “uscite”(literally “exits”, ways to end them and go to the basic step); they include movements shoulder to shoulder or movements with the bust or the arms.

The tammurriata is a courtship dance. The dancers look at each other in the eye; one of the reasons that I like it so much. I love it and I find it very sensual, and I also love the rhythm of the dance, which really resembles the sounds of a beating heart.

Do you like the tammurriata as much as I do? I would like to hear from you, and I hope to see you soon on this blog. I’ve also decide to put some videos below, so you can have a good idea of what the tammurriata really sound and looks like. Ciao ciao!

Picture credit: this post’s featured image is from Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA).

Leave a comment