18 August 2009

Palio delle Pupe

I was speechless! My mouth hung open the entire evening since I was just flabbergasted! It was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. It's a yearly contest of pupa (puppet) dancers. 14 of them compete for the designation of best pupa dancer to bring glory to their area of the city, Capelle sul Tavo. The costumes, the choreography, the fire works displays are planned, decided and made all year long. The palio (prize) happens on August 15, a huge feast day in Italy called Ferragosto, before an enormous crowd that fills the stadium bleachers, the surrounding hills and the grounds next to the contest arena.
The papier maché puppets are fashioned as beautifully decorated women and have large frames around them. The frames are embedded with various kinds of fireworks. The whole thing is heavy enough that it takes 5-6 men to lift it onto the man who is the dancer. A fuse is then lit to start the fire works and the man starts dancing around the stage to music. He continues dancing the entire time the fire works display is being shot from his frame. Some fire works shoot high into the sky in traditional fashion and some shoot out around him in synchronized displays that get the crowd hooting and hollering.
At times it looks very much like the stage is on fire as the still lit fireworks fallout showers down. The stage has to be swept off by 2 men in between dancers to clear this debris.
We went with friends who go every year and tried to tell us about it. But, really, how can you verbally explain something like this? It was astounding and the crowd loved it. We got some footage of one of the dancers, so you can see a little bit of it for yourself. Enjoy, we did! video

1 comment:

  1. highly impressed that you uploaded a video!! so sad that we cannot see it properly =(...but better that we get to see it with live comments in 8 weeks...yes we are counting the days (especially kamala!!)! love you!

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