Dance workshops

The Saltarello from Marche

In Marche the old people tell a tale of how the fairies of Queen Sybil used to dance the saltarello inside their cave on top of the mountain wearing clogs made of fig wood. It was the fairies that taught humans the saltarello and how to build the first tambourine. The source of Marche's ancestral traditions is the Fairy Mountain, Mount Sibilla: the archetypal dance and instrument of Marche began there.

Moving from myth to history, in the town of Castelfidardo, located in the valley of the river Musone, we can find another traditional symbol: it was here in the second half of the 19th century that the Italian accordion industry began and developed. From here the diatonic accordion began to spread widely across south-central Italy, adding to or replacing more archaic instruments played in traditional music.

For 150 years, the tambourine and the diatonic accordion have been played together in Marche: the first is a female instrument, lunar, and associated with water; the second is a masculine instrument, solar, and associated with fire. Myth and history mingle together in their music, once again bringing forth the urge to dance the saltarello, as in the Dance of the Fairies.

Many different local varieties of the saltarello have been documented in Marche: the abundance that exists today testifies to the existence of even more variants in the past. Despite this, a very strong and deeply rooted common symbolic substrate can rightly be called the Saltarello Marchigiano (Saltarello from Marche).

My workshop aims to provide an introduction to the study of the saltarello in general, the dance that Antoine Jean Baptiste Thomas called "the characteristic dance of the Roman States" in 1823, and, more particularly, the Saltarello from Marche.

Specifically, we will explore the Saltarello and the Castellana of Val Musone, the Saltarello Civitanovese, and the Saltarello of Val d'Aso.


Roberto Lucanero: diatonic accordion, vocals, story-telling
Marco Meo: tambourine, vocals, dance