The Des Moines-based Italian Folk Dance Group, Il Trattenimento Italiano, had its start in 1959, when Patricia Civitate learned La Tarantella Napoletana as a youngster. When Civitate became a Girl Scout Troop Leader, she taught the dance to her troop of girls who represented Italy at various scouting events, whenever international cultures were being presented. In the early 1970s, she had a group of eight to ten children who wanted to dance, but La Tarantella Napoletana was the only Italian folk dance she knew.
In 1980, Civitate felt that there had to be more information available about Italian folk dances. She tried writing to Italian-American magazines but received no assistance. Shortly thereafter, she learned about the Italian Folk Art Federation of America (IFAFA) in a conversation with Rita Tonitto of Ft. Lee, NJ. Civitate attended the 1981 IFAFA Conference in New Jersey and just happened to share a room with the founder of the IFAFA, Cav. Elba Farabegoli Gurzau. In 1983, Civitate and her husband traveled with the IFAFA to Italy where she videotaped several dances.
Soon, the group’s repertoire grew. In a few years, at an IFAFA Conference in Philadelphia, PA, Civitate taught a workshop on teaching Italian dances to children. At that time, the Des Moines children were the only children’s group in the IFAFA. This presentation was an inspiration to many of the adult dancers to return to their cities and begin forming children’s groups. In 1988, Il Trattenimento Italiano hosted the IFAFA Conference in Des Moines.
The adult group of Il Trattenimento Italiano currently consists of 3 men and 8 women. The Ragazzi group is made up of 16 children. New members are recruited through invitations in their newsletter and through personal contact.
For more information contact Pat Civitate.