Title: La Danza: Conflict, Passion, and Healing
Author: Anna Harsh
Genre: Non-fiction, folk dance
Publisher: Tambourine Chronicles
Imagine an assignment in college as a dance major opening a door and leading you to a life-long mission after just one performance.
Anna Harsh made a vision board in 6th grade about dancing professionally, traveling to Italy, and meeting the Pope. Fast forward to her senior thesis project that catapulted her journey fulfilling that vision and so much more.
Her quest to find traditional Italian dances creates questions about her own life. Be prepared to immerse yourself in Italian dances, how families deal with grief, and the highs and lows of directing a dance company.
How her dream and desire for preserving traditional Italian dances manifested in unexpected ways.
How, through this journey, she learns more about her family legacy by meeting long-lost family and friends.
How chance meetings and happy accidents change her perspective and convince her why she must preserve these precious dances.
La Danza – Conflict, Passion, and Healing is a travel memoir of an adventure that has forever changed the life of this Italian-American dancer. Through experiences and humor, Anna invites you along her dancing journey, exploring villages steeped in tradition and local culture. Take a contemporary look of Italy through the eyes of a dancer and experience firsthand the Italian gusto, traditions, history, culture, and family legacy in this exciting read.
Praise for La Danza
Anna Harsh is a gift to the world of dance and dance education. Her passion for capturing the stories and soul within Italian dance resonates throughout her memoir.
– Tina Calabro Italian Heritage Collection Citizens Library Washington, PA
La Danza – Conflict, Passion, and Healing shares Anna Harsh’s story of connecting with her Italian heritage through movement and dance. Part memoir, part guide, Harsh reminds us that the tarantella and other folk dances are just as healing as nonna’s recipes and worthy of preservation for the next generation. La Danza adds a new voice to the cannon of Italian American memoir writing.
– Melissa E. Marinaro Director, Italian American Program Senator John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh, PA
La Danza is a vibrant and exciting chronicle of the quest for authenticity in regional Italian dance. Anna Harsh writes of her insatiable passion for seeking out these historical recreations which she has gathered and presented for decades, and connects them with her own experience as an Italian, foodie, music lover, and educator in this beautiful text.
– Daniel Karasik Ballet Faculty, Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA
Anna Harsh’s La Danza – Conflict, Passion, and Healing is an intimate travelog from an artist who “never thinks that ideas are too big to achieve.” Her undying love for Italy and its culture creates an efficacious backdrop in this story of her passion for dance. Interspersed with heartfelt recollections, Harsh celebrates the integrity of classic Italian folk dance with unusual facts – who knew that the Tarantella was once danced as a means of sweating out the poison from a spider bite! Moments of hardship and life disappointments are shared as well as Harsh’s deft navigation through the recent pandemic, but the reader is always left with a sense of optimism in each stretch of the journey.”
– Steve Rooks, Professor of Dance at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York and former Principal Dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company
La Danza reflects upon and documents Harsh’s life-long passion for dance. Her memoir addresses Italian dance as culture, history, community, and continual learning. With humility, Harsh offers the reader opportunities to personalize the chapter topics. A must-read for those who would like to develop and manage their own dance company.
– Nola Nolen, Professor Emerita, Slippery Rock University Department of Dance
Having family members slowly disappearing, among many other things,
made me realize how traditions can be lost without anyone
knowing their story. I feared that these precious dances I
was trying to preserve would go extinct one day if I did not
leave them behind for a new generation to explore. While
it is never easy saying goodbye to family members, I know
that they live on in me. All my ancestors live in each of
these dances and in the stories my body wove and spun.
The wisdom they shared empowered me to better my life.
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Anna Pishner Harsh is the Artistic Director and Founder of Allegro Dance Company. She has traveled throughout the United States and Italy performing and studying dance and culture. Her humor and spirited personality are visible and vibrant in her stories and choreography. She resides in Washington, PA, with her husband Greg teaching dance and fitness. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Communication from West Virginia University, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from Slippery Rock University, an RYT200 in yoga, and is also a certified Pilates Instructor. Her passion for dance bound with her Italian heritage is her guiding light as she searches for how to preserve her heritage to continue its life and continuity for the next generation’s enjoyment and study.
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