Folklorist/educator Paddy Bowman prepared this guide for grades 10-12, as one of a four-part series, using video excerpts (each about ten minutes) from The Music District, A Singing Stream, Cowboy Poets, and The Men Who Dance the Giglio.
The Men Who Dance the Giglio
Filmmaker Jeff Porter. Copyright 1995.
Not in distribution.
Excerpt Running Time 9 minutes
Use one of these quotations to spark discussion.
2. As the film begins, viewers hear a male voice singing a cappella in Italian. Later we hear Brooklyn accents, Italian, brass bands, crowds. How would students represent the sounds and sights of a festival or celebration? Divide students into teams to research and design the storyboard for a documentary about different local events such as festivals, homecoming, parades, or fairs. Team roles can include historical research, location research, interviewing, finding artifacts and images, video and audio recording, photography, sound, storyboarding. Teams should present their storyboards to the class.
3. "This feast holds the neighborhood together," says a man in the film. Viewers see only the procession, not the elaborate preparation of the platform and tower that weigh over two tons, band rehearsal, vendor set-up. Hundreds of families in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg are involved in this festival. Why do students think community festivals are important? How do they start, who organizes them, who attends, how do they change over time? What are roles for men, women, and children? Ask them to design a T-shirt for a favorite community event that tells the story of the celebration.
4. Legend has it that the feast of the giglio began Nola, near Naples, Italy, in the 5th century when the local Roman Catholic bishop, Paulinus, offered himself to North African conquerors in exchange for a widow's only son. Assign teams of students to research aspects of the St. Paulinus festival in New York and Italy: history, music, construction of the tower, the lily symbol, the dancers who carry the tower. Some may also research festivals around the world.
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