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 train together in local gyms and dance schools, practicing the mix of gymnastics and dance that sets majorettes apart from their cheerleading cousins. Many of Italy’s best majorette troupes are based in central Italy, in small towns around the city of Rome, where local music halls have been at the core of community life for decades, providing the local youth with a place to meet, socialise, and express themselves through musical education.
From this tucked away universe, majorettes travel together throughout the whole country to entertain the audience of yet another sagra (a typical street dinner traditionally held in Italian small towns) or religious festivity. Troupes of young women in pristine hairdos, matching make-up and sparkling costumes take the city streets by storm, marching to the beat of the drums with military precision and gleaming smiles as they sing the Italian national anthem. Their numbers are growing so fast that Italy now has a Majorette sport federation, a national team of majorettes and a galaxy of majorette-related services and events: from specialised costume designers abiding by the strict rules of international competitions, to majorette galas and championships, to dedicated choreographers and trainers, all based in the melancholic Italian provincia - small towns and villages miles away from the hustle and bustle of major cities.
As the millennial generation of women in suburban Italy interact with contemporary foreign cultures and homegrown traditions, why do they choose to become majorettes and how does this experience shape their personal and collective identity? The aim of this project is raise questions while exploring concepts such as patriotism and military discipline as well as sisterhood, dance, and self-expression.
The project uses still digital photography for the main photographic series and the creation of a photobook, in addition to video, audio, and individual interviews that will form a multimedia film about the lives of Italian majorettes and the people around them.