couple folk dance of Italy characterized by light, quick steps and teasing, flirtatious behaviour between partners; women dancers frequently carry tambourines. The music is in lively 68 time. Tarantellas for two couples are also danced. The tarantella's origin is connected with tarantism, a disease or form of hysteria that appeared in Italy in the 15th to the 17th century and that was obscurely associated with the bite of the tarantula spider; victims seemingly were cured by frenzied dancing. All three words ultimately derive from the name of the town of Taranto, Italy. Tarantellas were written for the piano by Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, and Carl Maria von Weber.
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