Articles by: Natasha lardera

  • Art & Culture

    We're All in the Same Dance: a New Hymn to Life

    The sun is beaming.

    Everything is permeated by a strong and vibrant light that seems to be there to protect and encourage us.

    The neighbors are on their balconies... some tan, some tend to the flowers, others read or chat with each other. I don't. I'm glad people have rediscovered a sense of community by finding ways to get closer to each other. Some have found purpose in simply creating little performances. But I don't. We, my wife Silvia and I, don't feel the need to.

    I've always enjoyed being home. When we are in Lecce, I don't usually go out much as we tour for months during the year. So being home is a special treat. But now, I'm suffocating.

    The sun is “burning in the sky, strands of clouds go slowly drifting by” (Simon and Garfunkel), but the real sunshine in our lives is our son Samuele.

    He's so happy to have us around 24/7. He's not aware of what's happening outside and he's too young to ask why he hasn't seen his grandparents in a while or why he hasn't played at the park. 

    On TV they are broadcasting the umpteenth war bulletin. The press coverage is a tragedy within the tragedy. This is bringing me down. I'm feeling a mix of rage, despair and frustration.

    It's been a while since I've been able to leave my house to go to the recording studio.  I only venture outside for food shopping and throwing the garbage out. The people I see are either the gentle souls who desperately try to make eye contact and smile even behind the mask or the miserable who rush by and furtively judge you for being outside.

    The days I was recording my latest project with Justin Adams or writing new songs for Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino seem so far gone.

    The sun is radiant.

    It all happens in a second. Without even thinking about it, I grab my violin. It's time for my daily practice session, but when I start, instead of the usual warm up I play something else.

    I look out the window, yes the sun is there but it's all alone. Nobody is on the streets... or on their balconies. As the first notes come out, I play with an arpeggio that was hiding between my fingers. That was trying to come out from deep inside of me. I don't remember exactly the whole process, I just know that in one take, just one, I record the violin track that's at the soul of  “We’re All in the Same Dance.”

    Then I go to Silvia. I ask her to listen to it. I do it every time I create something new. I see the expression on her face change, and I see she's beaming. I tell her about my idea to transform this into something bigger, a video that involves dancers from all over the world. Traditionally, in Southern Italy, music and dance were used to exorcise the poison of the Taranta spider daemon. Now, in the midst of the coronavirus emergency, music becomes a hymn to life and an antidote to the privations of the lockdown. While dancing is our superpower, an invisible thread that pulls us all together.

    It's time to test the strength of social media: I ask dancers to film themselves with their smartphones while in quarantine, no matter where they are. In no time, we receive videos from all over Italy and across the world (Spain, France, Switzerland, Australia, the United States, Lithuania and India). They dance in their rooms, in fields, on rooftops, on balconies, on fire escapes and even hanging from the ceiling.

    Everywhere. Everybody dances to the same music. “We're all in the same dance.”

    Gabriele Surdo is the last piece of the puzzle. A really talented director we have worked with years ago during the shooting of Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino's video “Taranta.” I'm a bit shy at first as I know I am about to ask him to work, for free nonetheless, on a massive project. The response from the dancers has been enthusiastic to say the least: we have received videos from 150 artists for a total of 12 hours. The video must be 2.30 minutes long.

    But I do it. I send him a text. He's busy on other projects and he sounds dubious, but still, he asks me to send him the music. I think he called me back as soon as he heard it. 

    A violin, solo, attacks an arpeggio that carries echoes of classical music, taking us into a dark mood, intimate and melancholic. Suddenly, the tambourines burst, playing to Pizzica rhythm. The sound becomes big, tries to break through the walls of its forced intimacy. After the effort, the explosion: the sound breaks out bolder, now unrestrained and fiery.

    For the video Gabriele starts from my idea of showing only the dancers' feet and makes it bigger. He asks for more. He asks them to send footage of what they see out of their windows or on their balconies. He asks for objects, animals or even symbols...something personal that represents the difficulty of this time. And he also asks for sunsets: he is looking for a communal light and the light at sunset represents the end of something and the beginning of something new. A new life. For us all. 

    2.30 minutes; an organic piece of music where bodies, souls and emotions - ours and those of 150 dancers - come together under the same light.


    Proudly supporting AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL


    Music written, performed and recorded: Mauro Durante (violin, tamburello, frame drums, strings, moog)

    Video direction and editing: Gabriele Surdo

    Conception and development: Mauro Durante, Gabriele Surdo, Silvia Perrone

    Mixed and mastered: Francesco Aiello


    Alessandra Bellomo, Alfio Longo, Amabile Bovo, Andrea De Siena. Angela Blaso, Angela Buscicchio, Angela Esposito, Anna Di Matteo, Anna Invidia, Anna Vinci, Annalisa Caputo, Annalisa Rizzo, Archana Kumar, Aurora Lo Bue, Barbara Amalberti, Barbara Migliaccio, Barbara Sabella, Benedetta Spedicato, Carla Trivellato, Carmen Pino, Carolina Cerisola, Chiara Dell'Anna, Chiara Garuglieri, Cristina Frassanito, Dalila Fumarola, Damiano Nicolella, Daniela Errico, Danielle Hartman, Dina Gregory, Eleonora Merisio, Elisa Anzellotti, Emma Ghislanzoni, Erica Occhionero, Fabrizio Ceccarini, Fabrizio Nigro, Federica Carelli, Federica Cicchelli, Federica Madeddu, Filomena Fiordaliso, Floriana Guida, Francesca Corsetti, Francesca Ghione, Francesca Morrone, Francesca Patera, Francesca Vincenti, Fulvia Pirondi, Giacomo Cascione, Giulia Campagna, Giulia Pesole, Giulia Piccinni, Giulia Purcigliotti, Giusy Pede, Giusy Urgesi, Ilaria De Angelis, Ilaria Specchia, Imani Coppola, Irene Álvarez Blanco, Ismaele Scozzi, Jennifer Jonassen, Jūratė Širvytė-Rukštelė, Lara Einaudi, Laura Esposito, Leonardo Ciccarese, Lisa Pellizzari, Lucia Scarabino, Lucia Taietti, Lucio Pellicciotta, Ludovica Morleo, Maija Garcia, Maria Vittoria Costanzucci, Marilena Menga, Marilisa Satalino, Marzia Delle Fratte, Matthew J. Kulengosky, Mickela Mallozzi, Mirea Scozzi, Moana Casciaro, Monica Zambon, Natalia Pelucchi, Natascia Blasi, Natasha Colangelo, Nella Del Giusto, Noemi Baccaro, Paola Tudino, Paolo Salvatori, Piero Macchia, Roberta Barbiero, Roberta Ingrosso, Rosa Voto Ustrale, Sara Caputo, Sara Lombardi, Serena Pellegrino, Silvia Cagnazzo, Silvia Perrone, Simona Melli, Simona Semente, Simone Guida, Tamara Cadorin, Tiziana De Ruggieri, Valentina Argenti, Valentina Panera, Valentina Trombettiere, Valeria Gemma, Valeria Sallustio, Valeria Tirabasso, Valeria Treglia, Vanessa Di Gennaro, Veronica Calati, Veronica Farnocchia, Viola Chicca, Vitalba Tamborrino, Vittoria Jolina Iavicoli.





  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Liquid Luxuries

    As the public becomes increasingly savvy and discriminating about what passes their lips, bartenders around the world are offering exorbitantly priced cocktails and drinking the night away can really break the bank. Surprisingly, not all drinks need gems to be ultra-pricey as distillers offer better and better spirits to work with. At the moment of writing this article, the following are the most expensive cocktails in the world.

    $51,200 is the price of the Dazzle offered at the Second Floor Bar inside Harvey Nichols in Manchester, U.K. Along with rose Champagne and strawberry and lychee liqueur, comes an 18-karat white-gold ring with pink tourmaline and diamond stones hidden, so to speak, at the bottom of the glass. For much less, $19,000 to be exact, one can have the Diamond/Ruby Cocktail at the Piano Bar inside the Sheraton Park Tower Hotel in London. Depending on the chosen gem, this drink can run anywhere from $4,350 for a .6-carat diamond to $19,000 for 2.6 carats. The mixture includes Charles Heidsieck champagne blended with Remy Martin

    Louis XIII cognac, angostura bitters and a sugar cube. The price tag goes down, but is still pretty high, to $10,000 for the Martini-on-the-Rock served at the Blue Bar inside the Algonquin Hotel in New York. This martini must be ordered 72 hours in advance in order to pre-select the diamond and setting by the suggested jeweler. As of today, only two have been ordered since the drink's launch in 2004. The latest addition to the list is the 27321, a drink concocted by the bartenders at the Skyview Bar of the Burj Al Arab, Dubai. The finished cocktail is made from Macallan 55 year old single malt natural color whisky, produced from dried fruit bitters that add to the whisky’s flavor, homemade passion fruit sugar and is then served over ice cubes made of water from the Macallan distillery in Scotland, along with an oak stirrer made from a Macallan Cask. The cocktail is then presented in a Baccarat 18-karat gold glass, which the lucky buyer gets to bag afterwards. Price? $7,500.

    For “just” $3,000, visitors of Las Vegas can sip a Manage A Trois at Tryst inside the Wynn Hotel. This drink combines a threesome of 23-carat-gold garnish, edible gold flakes and liquid gold syrup. The other ingredients are Cristal Ros, Hennessy Ellipse and Grand Marnier Cent-ciquantenaire mix. To end things with a touch of lavishness, the drink can be sipped through a golden straw studded with a diamond solitaire.

    At The Merchant Hotel in Belfast, Ireland, they serve a delicious Mai Tai for $1,400. No gold or diamonds are used in the creation of this drink that is made with Wray & Nephew 17-year-old

    rum that was a key ingredient for “Trader Vic” Bergeron's original Mai Tai. It's unclear if this bottle is an actual remnant from the sugar estate or a ridiculously limited reproduction made some time later. "People are always looking for something different," say the headlines of luxury magazines, "something they can't find anywhere else."
    These exorbitant price tags are not for cocktails and particular creations only, as more and more producers put on the market lavish ingredients, among which we even find beer.
      Samuel Adams has come out with the most expensive beer available on the market, indeed Samuel Adams/Boston Beer Company’s Utopias, launched a couple of years ago, is the world’s strongest and priciest beer and at $100 per bottle. The beer is brewed with a blend of high-quality hops and sold in an ornate copper-plated brew kettle and offers a flavor unlike any other expensive beer or beverage in the world. The sweet flavor is richly highlighted with hints of vanilla, oak and caramel. The Swiss company DeLafée, specialized in edible gold products, has unleashed Golden Bubbles, a sparkling wine Rosé Brut with edible gold. Made exclusively from Pinot Noir from the Neuchatel Region in Western Switzerland, Golden Bubbles has a light to medium body with an aroma reminiscent of black cherry, raspberry or currant. It is perfect for romantic occasions, like weddings and anniversaries, but also for luxurious parties and gatherings. A large bottle goes for about a couple hundred dollars.

    But what about $225,000 for a bottle of Pasión Azteca, Platinum Liquor Bottle by Tequila Ley .925? Each one of the limited-edition expensive tequila bottles, which resemble a barbed sea shell and are engraved by Alejandro Gomez Oropeza, a Mexican artist, are filled with Pasión Azteca tequila, made from pure sap of the blue agave plant that has been fermented, distilled, and aged for six years.

    The company has produced additional bottles that have been made out of gold and platinum and retail slightly less for $150,000 while the range of gold and silver bottles of expensive tequila will set you back by $25,000. As we are talking of tequila, we can say that in New York, at Johnny Utah’s, a Western-style restaurant located in Rockefeller Center, one can enjoy, The Vault, what was known as the world’s most expensive margarita. The ingredients are a $300 bottle of Herradura Suprema tequila, along with grilled-lime juice and agave syrup. The drink costs $51 and was recently dethroned by the Riverside Grand Margarita, of the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. This exclusive drink uses freshlysqueezed lime juice; Cuvée Speciale Cent Cinquantenaire, a special triple sec made to commemorate the Grand Marnier company’s 150th anniversary, and Patron Tequila Gran Platinum. The finished product costs $65, making it the most expensive margarita in the world although it really sounds like a bargain if compared to the drinks previously listed in this article.

    And to end on a dazzling note, let’s talk about the Henri IV Dudognon Heritage, named after the French king whose descendents have been producing Cognac since 1776, a particular bottle of this wine that has been aged for 100 years in barrels that were air dried for five years before use. That alone still doesn’t make it the world’s most expensive Cognac, though. The priciest aspect isn’t the wine itself, but the packaging. Dipped in 24k gold and sterling platinum, the bottle’s adorned with 6,500 brilliant cut diamonds by its designer, jeweler Jose Davalos. The final price of this costly Cognac is around $2 million USD! Lavish and opulent, just the way we like it.