Written By Joel Benjamin
Alessandra Belloni’s ensemble, I Giullari de Piazza, performed her one-of-a-kind, show Tarantella: Spider Dance at the Theatre for the New City where she sharpened its impact over the past few years. This is a richly beautiful and exciting show that combines music, dance, copoeira, circus, acrobatics and mythical drama all swirled into a lively, colorful show, seasoned liberally with sex and sensuality.
This is theater at its best—raw, passionate, richly costumed and delightfully ragged—that has to be seen to fully appreciate the full-bodied wit and passion with which Ms. Belloni tells her tale. Folklore and classical Greek myth intertwine freely in Spider Dance. The myth of Aracne winning a weaving contest against the vengeful goddess Athena is central to Spider Dance. Aracne is transformed into a spider destined to spin webs forever, portrayed by a skilled acrobat twisting and turning with abandon high up on a hanging web, keeping the spider symbol ever present. The robust cast breaks into energetic tarentellas between colorful tales of clandestined lovers and Dionysus seducing lustfully frustrated peasant girls. Early Christianity is conflated with paganism through rich imagery of madonnas, exorcisms, crucifixes, mingling with nature and sex. Gypsies sweep around the stage; fiery lamps are swung in elaborately dangerous circles; lovers couple with abandon after being bitten by the tarantula whose poison causes madness; and men fight with graceful sweeping movements.
With breathtaking ease the inexhaustible Ms. Belloni weaves her own web of colorful dances, glorious Italian peasant music, mime, a stilt walking god, and even an all out Brazilian Carnavale celebration to bring the evening to an exciting close.
The cast was headed by the whirlwind Ms. Belloni who not only wrote and choreographed Tarantella: Spider Dance, but was on stage almost constantly singing and dancing. She was supported by the terrific musical ensemble led by Joe Deninzon who played the violin, but also got “bitten” and managed to crawl about the floor while still playing the violin! The band members, which included guitarists, woodwind players, percussionists of all types, also wandered about the stage playing characters while singing, too. The musicians: Wilson Montuori, Susan Eberenz, Peter Abazia, Giuseppe de Falco and Massimo Cusato.
Cynthia Enfield was a rich-voiced narrator. Anthony Anderson was the physically adept Dionysus. Peter De Geronimo seduced with the all out sensuality of his dancing. The spider, Fran Sperling, was thrilling and as her human counterpart, Aracne, Sharon Li Vardo had grace and elegance. Mark Mindek’s stilt dancing was astounding in its virtuosity and Hillary Litwin’s belly dancing was charmingly fresh. Francesca Silvano, Greta Campo, Lindsay Poulis and Danielle Hartman all danced with abandon.
Tarantella: Spider Dance (January 18th, 19th & 20th, 2013)
Theatre for the New City
155 First Ave. (bet. 9th & 10th Sts.)
New York, NY
Tickets: TNC at 212-254-1109 or SmartTix at 212-868-4444
More Information about I Giulari di Piazza – www.AlessandraBelloni.com