I’m Miharu Tetashima and I graduated from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in March, 2022, with a major in Italian Language and Culture, submitting a graduation thesis on folk dance in Trentino. The choice of this topic arose from my interest in two different fields: folk dance and Trentino itself. During my university years, I was a member of a Philippine folk dance club, and that experience triggered a personal interest in folk dance around the world. At the same time, while studying Italian culture at the university, I became more and more interested in the culture of Trentino, which seemed significantly different from cultures seen in other Italian regions. When I found videos of Trentino folk dance on the Internet, I was fascinated by them.
My graduation thesis explores characteristics of folk-dance culture in Trentino. The first chapter summarizes the history of folk dance in the region. The second compares folk dance in Trentino with that in two other regions of Italy: folk dance in South Tyrol and tarantella in the Pollino area of southern Italy. The third chapter investigates activities designed to preserve and promote folk dance in Trentino. For purposes of this research, I interviewed Attilio Gasperotti, the president of Zampognaro Lagaro, an association that conducts activities to preserve and promote the culture of folk dance and folk music in Trentino.
Folk dance in Trentino has few strict rules, unlike tarantella in the Pollino area, which has many. This allows people to dance and express themselves more freely, without following any particularly strict rules. Also, while folk dance in South Tyrol has numerous difficult acrobatic steps, that in Trentino is characterized by the accessibility it offers to a wide range of people: its steps are relatively easy to master, regardless of gender or age. Further, while folk dance in South Tyrol employs musical instruments unique to the region and not commonly used elsewhere, that in Trentino employs instruments commonly available and used in most parts of the world, including guitar and violin.
A variety of activities are conducted in Trentino to preserve and promote elements of traditional local culture, including folk dance, and they are conducted both in traditional ways and in innovative ways that employ new technologies. The Federazione Circoli Culturali e Ricreativi del Trentino (FECCRIT) organizes various events for that purpose and is also active in online digitalization of information regarding traditional local culture. Trentino folk-music scores can be freely viewed on the FECCRIT website, as can Il Cerchio e le Linee, a journal devoted to traditional Trentino culture. Some folk-dance organizations, including Zampognaro Lagaro, hold classes and events to teach folk dance to children, and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of events have been held online. Zampognaro Lagaro is active in performances as well; its members perform both domestically and internationally in order to make their association and Trentino culture more widely known. Attilio Gasperotti told me that they hope to perform even more widely in the future, including in Japan.
Research for this graduation thesis has identified three main characteristics of folk dance in Trentino: placing value on the enjoyment of dancing, making it accessible to a wide range of people, and actively employing new technology for its preservation and promotion. Further, it appears that in the future there will be more opportunities to see Trentino folk dance worldwide.