This event examined ecstasies in music and dance in the Mediterranean, especially the phenomenon of the pizzica tarantata in the Salento region of Puglia, Italy, in which a person (usually a sexually repressed woman) bitten by a mythical spider, fell into a hypnotic trance and danced for days until purified by Saint Paul of Galatina.

The event included documentaries and narrative films examining this phenomenon. It also included photo exhibits, concerts, workshops, receptions, and a 3-day conference with papers presented by scholars from around the world. The event was organized by Luisa Del Giudice, Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian Folklore at UCLA and the Director of the Italian Oral History Institute (website

The musical group Aramirè from Salento, Puglia, gave lectures and concerts demonstrating the musical accompaniment to the pizzica tarantella. Their website is and they have several musical CDs.

The event also included a tambourine workshop by Enzo Fina from Salento, who now resides in Los Angeles. He was part of a fusion group called Musicŗntica who performed at the event.

The Craft and Folk Museum housed an exhibit of photos taken by Alan Lomax of his travels in Southern Italy and Spain in the 1950ís examining folk traditions in these countries. It also housed an exhibit of traditional folk instruments of the Mediterranean and an exhibit of Venetian carnival masks.

The Italian Cultural Institute was the site of the conference and host of the exhibits of photographs of the images of Tarantismo (1972-1992) by Luigi Chiriatti of the musical group Aramire and "A crazy urge to dance" photographs depicting the folk dance and music revival taken in southern Puglia in the 1980ís and 1990ís by Fernando Bevilacqua.

Besides the study of tarantismo, the event included a lecture of Italian traditional song by Luisa Del Giudice It also included a workshop of Southern Italian, Sicilian and Sardinian folk instruments by Roberto Catalano, a Sicilian Ph.D. candidate in Ethnomusicology at UCLA. He demonstrated how to play the launeddas and benas from Sardinia, the chitarra battente from Southern Italy and several other wind instruments.

Placida Staro, from Monghidoro near Bologna, Italy, presented a paper at the conference on her experience in curing mental patients with her musical therapy techniques like the pizzica tarantella. She also gave workshops in traditional dances from three areas in Northern Italy. She taught the social dances from Monghidoro, Carnival dances from Lombardy and social dances from Resia in Friuli. She taught fiddle workshops from these areas to music students at UCLA. She also showed a documentary about Carnival dancers in Northern Italy that she produced about 15 years ago.

Alan Lomaxís daughter, Anna Lomax Chairetakis, curated her fatherís photographic exhibit and attended the event. Besides the scholars presenting papers who came from as far away as Europe, event attendees came from Chicago, New Jersey, and Florida.

Here are some photos from the Ecstacies conference. If you would like to see a larger photo, just click on the photo below.

Aramirè. Music from Salento.

The music made people dance.

Photographic exhibits

Roberto Catalano's instrument demonstration.

Enzo Fina's tambourine workshop.

Placida Staro's dance workshop.

Musicàntica concert

Scholars from around the world
presented papers.

Sufi music by the
Ali Jihad Racy Ensemble

Portuguese Sephardic Music by
Judith Cohen & Tamar Ilana

Luisa Del Giudice


More Receptions

And of course the food.

For more information about the Italian Oral History Institute, Click here!

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