South Orangetown Central School District

As has become a yearly tradition, on September 17, South Orangetown Middle School and Tappan Zee High School Italian Club and Italian Honor Society members gathered at the German Masonic grounds in Tappan to perform the Tarantella, a traditional Italian dance, at the Rockland Lodge Sons of Italy Italian Feast.

This is the eighth year that students have kicked off the final day of the festival. Some students, like TZHS junior Tara Mercer, have danced at the Feast since sixth grade. When asked what brings her back to dance every year, Mercer responded, “It is so much fun dancing the Tarantella at the Italian Feast! The idea of both the middle school and high school coming together to share important aspects of Italian culture is amazing. It is incredibly fun, especially when we get all if the parents and spectators to join in.” Close to 200 students and spectators joined together for the second round of the dance this year.

The tradition of dancing the Tarantella began in the Apulia region of Italy during the 15th to 17th centuries. The dance comes from the belief that a wolf spider native to the region, the tarantula, was so poisonous that one bite would cause a hysterical condition called “tarantism.” Another explanation for the need to dance comes from the belief that this rhythmic dance would sweat out the poison of the tarantula. Today, the Tarantella is danced at weddings and other celebrations, making it fitting to be performed at a festival celebrating the Italian culture.

Story by TZHS junior Erin Flynn

TZHS and SOMS students lead festival goers in Tarantella at the 2017 Italian Fest A crowd dances the Tarantella, led by TZHS and SOMS students, at the 2017 Italian Fest TZHS and SOMS Italian language students pose for group photo at 2017 Italian Fest