More so than in any other material contained in the portal, it is in dance tunes and ballroom music that the many foreign influences that have taken root in Italy, often in original ways, can be identified. First of all the waltz, which has Franco-German origins, and the tango from Argentina. The former became part of the repertoire of popular orchestras as early as the second half of the nineteenth century, and gained much popularity in the form of songs during the following century. The second – the origin of which owed much to a significant contribution by our emigrants – arrived in Italy in 1913 from Paris, and became popular – first in dance halls and then through songs – creating the subgenre of the tango song. Both, along with other dances of European origin such as the mazurka, the polka and the paso-doble, merged in the liscio, a dance style from the Romagna which extended its roots to Sicily and gradually engulfed foreign and regional traditions. Other important influences were the American dances, whose fortunes increased with the widespread popularity of jazz.
Already by the turn of the century, the Brazilian maxixe and cake-walk were favourably received by cosmopolitan audiences and from then on the One-step, Foxtrot, Boston, and Charleston would replace the old continental styles, infusing movement with expressivity. This section also presents a wide range of native traditions, from the tarantella - an iconic Italian style present throughout the South – to the saltarello, practised in ancient Rome and widespread in central Italy to this day. Peasant dances were promoted during the Fascist era thanks to an autarchic policy that favoured local traditions. However, after World War II Italy went back to dancing to imported rhythms, and the freed country, from the South to the North, saw a proliferation of ballrooms where the French java, Cuban rumba and American boogie-woogie were readily added to the domestic menu of musical flavours, creating songs that sounded modern at the dawn of Italy’s economic miracle.