2018, The ‘Moresca’ dance in the Pietro della Valle’s travel accounts of South India (17th century).

In the beginning of the 17th century, the Italian nobleman Pietro della Valle (1586-1652) left his native city of Rome in order to travel to the East. During his long journey, which lasted for 12 years, he visited several places in the Middle East, Turkey, Persia and India. Interested by the cultural and political traditions of the countries where he travelled, he started to learn the languages of some of them to better know and understand the local socio-religious customs. Being himself a fine scholar, a musician and a composer, he was particularly attracted by the music and dance traditions of the regions he visited. He also collected a number of Asian musical instruments and brought them back to Rome. Thus, in his letters to his friends, narrating his experience of his travels, he refers in a detailed manner to the music and dance performances he observed during his journeys. Some of his descriptions are so accurate that Pietro della Valle is considered today one of the first precursors of the modern ‘ethnomusicology’ and ‘ethnochoreology’. In this paper I will focus on his perception and interpretation of the dance and music performances he witnessed, in the year 1623, in the South Indian Nayak kingdom of Ikkeri (today Karnataka State), by comparing them with the coeval ‘Moresca’ dance that he was accustomed to in Italy.
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Tiziana Leucci
Tiziana Leucci is a senior research fellow at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) attached to the Centre d’Etudes de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud in Paris. Her Ph.D. thesis in Social Anthropology (EHESS, Paris) dealt with the South Indian courtesans’ culture. Leucci studied ballet and contemporary dance at the National Academy of Dance in Rome, and authored a book and several articles on Anthropology and Dance History. At present with Joep Bor (University of Leiden) she is co-writing a volume on the European perception and representation of the Indian courtesans. She is also co-editing the proceedings of four international conferences: ‘From the Dance of Shiva to the World Music’ with Raphaël Rousseleau (University of Lausanne); ‘Dance in Early South Indian cinema’ with Davesh Soneji (McGill University, Montreal, Canada) and Hari Krishnan (Wesleyan University, U.S.A.) ; ‘Counter-culture in the Indian Arts (1960s-1980s)’ with R. Rousseleau, J. Bor and Philippe Bruguière (Musée de la Musique, Paris); and ‘India and Italy’, with Marie Fourcade (EHESS, Paris) and Claude Markovits (CNRS, Paris). Since 2010, she has taught Bharata Natyam dance at the Conservatoire ‘Gabriel Fauré’, Les Lilas-Est Ensemble (France).