Welcome to the MFA student profile series. Each month we’ll be giving you the opportunity to get to know one of our fellow cohort members. This month we’ll be starting with Rhianna!
Name: Rhianna Smith
Where are you from?
Johnson City TN native, residences in New York and Minneapolis, hotel living around the U.S.
What is your performance/theater background?
Professional actor: background in children’s theatre, musical theatre, modern and aerial dance, dinner theatre, outdoor drama, pilates
What were you doing just before you came to the Accademia professional/performance wise?
I worked for National Theatre for Children based out of Minneapolis touring the country playing super heroes and evil villains to educate elementary and middle school students about energy conservation and electricity safety.
Where did you first learn about the Accademia and what specifically about this program made you want to attend?
I first learned about ADA through an online search for graduate schools 3 years ago. I wanted to expand my skill set and find a way to merge my theatre and dance backgrounds to create my own company.
What have been some of the most influential/impactful moments of your training at ADA so far?
- Studying ukrainian folk singing with Mariana made me open up a new side of my voice that I haven’t experienced before, and opened me up to be able to link singing to emotions.
- Studying the commedia characters and learning how they move
- Rita’s dance class helped me to connect movement to the individual body, and to find a level of spirit there.
What is something unexpected that you’ve found while working towards your MFA?
Something unexpected I’ve found is that my end goal is changing constantly. Now I feel like I can collaborate artistically and devise new works in many different settings. I now have the ability to work with different people are various backgrounds.
What work that you have done during your time in the MFA program are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my autocorso work. It’s a place where I can put a bit of myself out there for viewing. I am also proud of our fall movement final and how each one of us took a piece out of our individual life stories and merged them into one life of being. I am also quite proud of my portrayal of a stick bug.
What is the connection like with your fellow MFA classmates?
Some days we are grumpy and complaining, some days we are excited and happy, but at this point where we are spending most hours of every day together, I’m proud to call this group my new family.
How would you describe the interaction with the teaching faculty and guest artists?
Interaction is very playful, individual, and professional. Everyone has their own style.
How would you describe the experience of living and working in Italy?
Living and working in Italy is amazing overall. Sometimes I’m quite busy and don’t appreciate it enough, but all you have to do is look out over the city to see the beauty of this country. There are so many opportunities for working with guest artists from all over Europe. The language is hard to learn, but the locals are very friendly and willing to help out. Travel is also easily accessible.
What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
Going to circus school at FLIC. I already study aerial silks, and I want to deepen my knowledge, as well as expand my skills into contortion and lyra work.
Looking beyond the program what are your plans post-graduation? How would you like to use your degree? What direction do you see yourself moving in ie: teaching, performing, company creation etc…
At this point in time, my goal is everything. I want to open a kids gym/performance studio that incorporates pilates/yoga/aerial skills. Show kids how to use their creativity in a physical way. I also hope to tour several shows, and be constantly creating with a base in New York or possibly the San Francisco Bay area.
Who would you recommend the program to, who is a good fit for this program?
I recommend the program to any theatre artist. If you are ready to analyze yourself deeply and immerse yourself into a program that keeps you constantly busy and challenging yourself daily, then this is a program for you. If you want to create and/or perform, you will do well. I think it can be a successful program for both people who are already professionals in the field or who just graduated undergraduate.