Antonio Castrignanò: The Princess, the Musician and the Dance Troupe

Antonio Castrignanò
Antonio Castrignanò

16.08.2021, by Giacomo Luperini

With all the ingredients the creation of a beautiful fairytale, Antonio Castrignanò tells us about the birth of “Core Meu”

February 2015, Paris. Her Royal Highness Caroline Louise Marguerite Grimaldi of Monaco stumbles upon an enthusiastic review on Le Monde, about a talented young musician from the southern Italian region of Salento, named Antonio Castrignanò. Impressed with the high praise from such a respected publication, the princess buys Antonio’s records, listens to them and is immediately enraptured, so much so that she decides to hire Antonio for the wedding of her son Pierre Casiraghi to Beatrice Borromeo.

We don’t know exactly how the wedding feast went, though considering the cheerful and gregarious atmosphere of Antonio’s performances we are fully able to imagine it. What is certain is that in the audience that day sat a person who was destined to create an important artistic partnership with the Italian musician: Jean-Christophe Maillot, artistic director of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo dance troupe. Maillot was immediately captivated by Antonio’s expressive power, and together they began to devise, in collaboration with Taranta Sound, an innovative dance and music show, merging oral tradition and popular energy with the discipline and virtuosity of ballet.

The first iteration of the project debuted during the spectacular “F (Ê) AITES DE LA DANSE!” on July 1st, 2017 in Monte Carlo. At the stroke of midnight, the show that in 2019 would become known as “Core Meu” came to life for the first time. Four years on, the show is more thriving than ever, continuously evolving and attracting larger and larger audiences.

Hi Antonio, can you tell us a bit about what it was like to interact with Princess Caroline Grimaldi?

When we spoke, she immediately made me feel at ease. She wanted to know everything about the dialect, the oral expressions and the countryside traditions of Salento. She was especially interested in our culture and in the Maghrebine and Balcanic elements of our music. She is truly and sincerely open-minded.

What about Jean-Christophe Maillot?

Jean-Christophe and I found ourselves on the same wavelength, both from a human and an artistic point of view. Not all dance troupes would be open-minded enough to merge together such apparently different elements: classical ballet, made of physical sacrifice and never-ending perfectionism, and our music, based on oral tradition and popular spirit and energy. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. The first time I saw the choreography I was deeply moved.

The show’s finale is very unusual and spontaneous. How did you come up with it?

The finale was born as an impromptu. The whole audience stood up, the dancers began to improvise and went among the people, involving them in the performance and turning it into a massive street party. This break from the norm was only possible thanks to the dancers’ remarkable professionalism and open-mindedness, their readiness to open up to new realities. This might explain their freedom and their desire to share their peculiarities and accept ours. They have an incredible ability, an innate desire to connect with others. Exactly what we are missing in the current times.

Do you think this experience has benefited your artistic career?

For me it was an incredible boost. Audiences were enthusiastic, both in Monte Carlo and at home. Everyone wanted to see the concert we had performed in the Principality. When we came back to Italy and played our five dates at the end of April 2019, they were all sold out!

The Principality of Monaco seems to be very curious about the culture of Salento. But what have you learned about Monegasque culture? Was there a reciprocal exchange?

The Principality is a small community, but it is nevertheless a meeting place of cultures from all around the world. Italian and French culture often seem to coexist in Monegasque workers. Unfortunately I did not have much of a chance to engage deeply with the population, as I mainy interacted with people from my artistic milieu, but I was very impressed with the multiculturalism and diversity of their ballet troupe. It includes dancers from all around the world: Brazil, Belgium, Spain, Argentina… truly a lot of different backgrounds. We even met an Italian dancer from Lecce! Elena Marzano. We forged a good relationship with her, an interesting exchange of ideas.

Do you think your Core Meu project is now over? Or should we expect more?

We were lucky enough to be among the few artists who were allowed to perform in 2020. From December 11th to December 13th of last year we held three performances at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco and they all went very well. I have just submitted new pieces and music. Our idea is to enrich the show and present it in a brand new version.

Our fairytale has not yet come to an end, and we eagerly await its next developments. In the meantime we can whet our appetite with the upcoming September release of Antonio Castrignanò’s new album, hoping to soon be able to see a live performance by Taranta Sound and Les Ballets de Montecarlo.

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