Introduced to Italy in the 1970s, cheerleaders and their marching bands brought an icon of American culture to every Italian town, big or small. Departing from traditional Italian forms of music and dance, Italy’s fascination for this very American import soon morphed into a love for cheerleading’s close relative: Majorettes.
Girls aged five to twenty-five started training together in local gyms and dance schools, practicing the mix of gymnastics, dance, and baton-twirling that sets majorettes apart from their cheerleading cousins. Marching side-by-side with Italy’s male-dominated marching bands of musicians, the young women of the nation’s majorette troupes found their platforms for self-expression at public celebrations and town festivals.
The aim of this project is to study majorette culture in the context of contemporary Italy and to ask whether it can still empower young women nearly fifty-years on. Telling a story of the values of choreographed dance and personal self-expression, of sisterhood and hierarchy, of artistic freedom and military discipline, Italy’s emerging generation of women interact with foreign cultures and homegrown traditions.