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Italy dances in with culture and color

A little piece of Italy will bring itself to Shanghai to add its special color and flavor to the city.

Tonight, the color and flavor will be found on the second floor of Shanghai Times Square and lucky observers will be able to catch the culture and the joy of a little-known part of Italy.

The traditional performances by the Ortensia folk group from Italy's Marche Region are being organized by Shanghai Times Square and the Cultural Office of the Consulate General of Italy in Shanghai.

The Ortensia group from Ortezzano, comprises people from villages around the Aso Valley, performs traditional folk dances and songs from the region of Marche.

The group has made three DVD films showing the rural lifestyles of the city and province of Ascoli Piceno and neighboring towns and villages from the 19th century.

The group's video "La notte de 'Nata'" ("Christmas Eve") won first prize at the 3rd Ethno-demo-anthropological Film Festival last year. The group performs throughout Italy and abroad, and appears regularly on Italian television.

The regional costumes worn by the group remind onlookers of the peasant life around Sibillini and Fermo's at the end of 18th century and the start of 19th.

In those days the cloth was made by farm women, and every farmhouse had at least one handloom. The men's costumes for the feasts included short trousers and colorful socks. The women's costumes are more eye-catching, with a full and long skirt called a varnellu, with pleats from the waistline.

The dances of the Ortensia group are lively, fast and convey the excitement and joy of living. The choreography of the dances shows off the dalliances between the sexes and old-fashioned courtship. Other dances pray for good weather and crops and give thanks for good harvests.

This kind of dance would have been seen in the barnyards and farmhouses at the start or the end of the reaping, threshing, and grape picking. The dances are accompanied by castanets, a triangle, a cymbal, and sometimes a guitar.

With the folk dances performances there will be a range of gastronomical delights. Visitors will be able to choose from the vincisgrassi (a typical lasagna), olive ascolane (olives from Ascoli Piceno), sausages and salami of Marche and regional cheese and wines.

"This Italian folk fest performance aims to promote the culture of the Italian 'Marche' Region and bring a traditional western folk culture to the public in Shanghai," says Cathy Hau, deputy general manager of Shanghai Times Square.

"Following this event, we will stage a traditional Italian Easter Concert?next month," Hau said.


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