Tuesday, March 18, 2008

San Rocco

This past weekend, March 15, I went to another tarantella workshop with Alessandra Belloni. Again, it was intense, powerful and completely amazing.

We spent most of the first half just working the rhythms of the tarantella, an incredibly fast 6/8 or 12/8 rhythm that truly induces a trance state.

One of the versions we did is connected to San Rocco (also Saint Roch). He came to Italy during a terrible bout of the plague, and after healing himself from the disease, he became a great healer for others. To this day, there's a regular festival where people do ritual drumming in the streets, warding off disease with this powerful rhythm.

Interestingly, last summer, I went to New York City's Cloisters museum (part of the Metropolitan and located along the Hudson River) and was completely entranced by the statue seen above. It's of St. Roch, and what drew me to it was its very queer energy. Here he is in these hot pants in a very fey pose (a traditional rendering after looking through a Google image search on the saint). He's exposing the sore on his leg related to the plague, and usually he's pictured with a dog, who brought him food during his near-death illness.

My reaction to the statue stuck with me, and then, while practicing this rhythm, I was really drawn to the beat, the sound and the power of it. After putting the two together, I'm very curious to see if there's a connection between Rocco and queer people. That might be the intention of an upcoming trance-journey as well as some scholarly research.

(The statue is painted oak, found in Normandy, dating to the early 16th century. It joined the Cloisters Collection in 1925, I found the photo during a Google image search, and unfortunately, can only attribute it to WallyG)

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