(Friuli Venezia Giulia) has been a Slav minority dance since the Slavic
settlement of the Eastern Alps
and the furlana (as Friulli) may well have originated as a
Slavonic dance. It dates at least to 1583, when a "ballo furlano" called L'arboscello was published in
Pierre Phalèse the Younger's Chorearum molliorum
collectanea and in Jakob Paix's organ tablature
book, though its chief popularity extended from the
late 1690s to about 1750.
In Pietro Longhi's (1702-1785) paintings of La Furlana he depicts the dancers doing a Jig using Tambourines but the dance can be accompanied by string instruments: a violin and a cello or viola. In his picture the girl is dancing while the man watches.
During the dance the couples try to mimic courtship such as flirting, arguing etc. At the end of the dance both dancers drop to a knee with handkerchiefs raised. This dance is practiced in several other parts of Italy. The musical signature is of 6/8 or 6/4 or 3/4.
The dance faded from popularity around 1790 due to France's earlier entrance into Italy. In 1914, the Pope Pius X advised a return to the Furlana in order to fight the peccaminosa spread of the tango. He said after watching an exhibition of the Tango "It is not at all amusing, my children," he is reported to have said of the tango "Why do you not dance the furlana'.
So needless to say there was a slight effort by some to revive the Furlana in the mid 1910s thanks to the Pope of the time and it did gain some attention for a brief period. It became known as the "Pope's Dance or the La Popette" and while originally the dance was not done using the embrace of the Tango, it was being sold and danced as such, just not as sensuously and said to be a mixture of the steps of the Polka, Maxixe and Tango with the original Furlana steps thrown in like the Intro of the dance, etc. In 1914 Albertina Rasch did a royal command function of Emperor Francis Joseph at his palace in Vienna doing the Furlana and was reported by Albertina Rasch (1914) that Children still danced the Furlana in the Streets of Venice to a hurdy-gurdy.
Details of the Furlana Dance (c.1914 - Washington Post).
The first position suggests the beginnings of some of the Spanish dances. The partners stand facing each other, three or four feet apart, with the man's right foot and the woman's left foot advanced, and the right arm raised and the left akimbo.
In the second position The dancers approach and join hands, their arms "being crossed in the position often used by men and women skaters.
In the third position the dancers are side by side.
In the fourth position the left arm of the man jests lightly on the waist of the woman. At this stage the dancers are as close together as they ever get in the furlana, their right arms being raised
The Finale is lively enough.
In one of the turns which follows, the right foot of one dancer is close to the calf of the right leg of the other, which is a difficult pose for one wearing the present style of tight skirts. The finale is lively enough, with the raised hands and the quick steps. The dance music is rapid throughout, and even professional dancers find they need a rest when it is over. As the evolutions are rather extended it requires much more room than does the tango, and it would be difficult to adapt it to ballroom use. (end Wash Post)