Stepping Into Spring
Our Spring 2018 undergraduate students have arrived and are already hard at work! This semester, twenty undergraduate Physical Theatre students, nine Dance students, and four students in the One Year Physical Theatre program will live together at Villa Godiola for a rigorous, creative, and transformative artistic experience. The first two weeks of classes have been completed and the positive energy and excitement is buzzing around the halls.
Working primarily in the city center of Arezzo, the graduate students of MFA Cohort V have begun their final semester in Arezzo, working towards their Grad Lab projects and presentations before heading to Berlin and the Czech Republic for residencies with professional theatre companies this summer and next fall.
Read below for student and faculty perspectives about the start of the semester and don’t miss the Welcome to 2018 message from ADA Founding Director, Scott McGehee. Scroll down for all of this more!
Important application and registration deadlines are approaching! Check out the Upcoming Programs section at the bottom of the newsletter for details or click here to apply / register.
Welcome to 2018: A Message from ADA Founding Director, Scott McGehee
Looking back, 2017 was an exciting year at the Accademia! There were a few new developments that made 2017 one of the best for our students:
For the first time, Physical Theatre students collaborated between all three core studio courses to create their final presentation. The Core Faculty (Giangiacomo Colli, Dory Sibley and Nhandan Chirco) mentored the experimental process and the result was extremely fulfilling. The students were able to make deeper connections within themselves and within the overall pedagogy. Because of its success, the faculty will continue to collaborate in this way for the foreseeable future.
The Experimental Lab was introduced in Fall 2017 in order to question the perspective of traditional hierarchical academic structures. Students and faculty alike thrived in an environment where all were collaborating and working inside the beginner’s mind.
The Contemporary Performance Seminar has now been approved as an accredited course. CPS is a way for students to research and gain a better understanding of companies and artists that have been an integral part of this movement. The course consists of performance-lectures by the students themselves accompanied with a lecture series by distinct artists/researchers and various screenings of contemporary work throughout the semester.
Looking at 2018, we’re proud to announce the launch of the One Year Physical Theatre Program! This program will run alongside the fall and spring semesters and offers a deeper path inside the realm of physical and devised theatre. And finally, we are looking forward to our new Summer Dance and Physical Theatre Intensives. These intensive workshops were created to offer a more time-sensitive and even more affordable option for those unable to attend the One Semester or One Year programs. We have incredible master artists coming from all over the world to teach about self-generated work and discuss their own philosophies surrounding performance and creation with our summer students. We hope you will join us!
Expectations vs. Reality
Some students arrive at the Accademia with a specific idea of what it’s like to study here but once they dive in they learn that each student’s experience is unique. It’s been two weeks since the students’ arrival, and their jet lag is finally wearing off, so we sat down with Dance student, Madison Dickson (Goucher College), and Physical Theatre student, Livia Chesley (Bennington College), to see how their expectations compare with reality.
What did you hear about what classes and living at the Accademia were like before you arrived? How does your experience so far compare?
MADISON: I heard from a good friend that it would be an amazing experience and living here would be like living with a family in a second home. Right when I got here I could really see how this could become a second home because we’re living in such close proximity with each other and going to class together in the same building. I heard for the dancers it would be about finding your own authentic movement. Because of that I had an idea that it would be much more relaxed in the technical areas, but we just started our ballet classes and those are crazy, so I wasn’t expecting that. Even though technique classes are less frequent here they’re definitely rigorous.
I miss weird things that I didn’t even think about at home, like different kinds of food and routines. I knew it would be a different schedule, like they eat later here. Being here makes me realize that in America we have the ability to do whatever we want whenever we want, but walking around in town on the weekend here, you realize that restaurants and stores aren’t open, so you can’t pick and choose the way you can in the states, because most stores are family owned local businesses not big corporations.
LIVIA: The only thing that I really heard about living here was that the food is very good, and that has been very true. I also heard that I would probably have long nights full of work, which hasn’t happened yet, and that generally classes were challenging. I think so far they’re challenging in ways I assumed challenging meant. They’re challenging in that they ask a lot of you in terms of being vulnerable, and it’s easy to be deeply and emotionally effected, by the exercises. The other thing that strikes me is how all the classes work together so well. It’s like one big class with separate parts. I wasn’t expecting that. That one big class is holding me in my artistic development at this point. Something that surprised me is that I didn’t expect there to be any maintenance staff. I thought it would be more communal in the way of us as students having more responsibility to the spaces. I’m also surprised to be so far outside of town and not closer to the center, I’m glad, I like being out here.
We sat down with One Year student, Zach Montou (Coastal Carolina University), Dance student, Cateryna Kochan (Muhlenberg College), and Physical Theatre student, Eddie Harris (Boston University) to hear what has struck them the most about their studies so far.
What class at the Accademia has had the biggest impression on you so far? How so?
CATERYNA: The laban class has really struck me so far. The process that we go through starting with a concept that began so long ago, and using that to create works that are new, fresh, and unique without even trying is a really interesting process. A process that I never would have thought to go through. We begin the class by getting an introduction into what we’re going to be doing from Sabine. She really tries to integrate the history with the concepts, and she asks us a lot about what we’ve learned so far in our own schools. Then it goes from concept to application and we use that first as a tool for improvisation and then a tool for composition.
EDDIE: Voice class has historically been my favorite class because that’s where I feel like I can get the most in tune with myself. Here, voice class gave me a good first impression because of the combination of the bits of Alexander Technique that Dory teaches and other voice techniques that she knows. I also love how she incorporates science into the class, and how we are starting with mapping our bodies. This class is a space that I feel simultaneously the most comfortable and the most vulnerable. I come in and right away feel so much warmth and energy. Dory is giving us so much information and articles about the body and I find it very interesting. She’s so articulate and I think she’s a very good listener. I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a voice teacher, so I love meeting voice teachers, and I have not met one that I dislike. Something about the style of teaching and what they want to achieve is something that I think everybody can benefit form. Finding your voice, mental and physical blocks, learning to become more myself.
How do you see your growth as an actor or dancer progressing as the semester moves on?
CATERYNA: I came in thinking that I just wanted to see myself in different ways. By that I mean I want to be more versatile, more open, and feel less bogged down by what I’ve learned in the past. I also want to look forward to what’s unknown as opposed to being scared of it. Already I’ve been opened to not only different kinds of dance but different people’s experiences of dance, and hearing from those people helps me to see myself in a different light. The learning that I’ve experienced so far hasn’t always happened in the classroom. Actually I’d say like 50 percent of it hasn’t. We can take our off times and sit with each other and talk about what we’ve been doing in different classes. I think this is especially interesting to do with the theatre students because I can take their experiences and try to connect them with what I’m experiencing. That time is something that no one really told me about and wasn’t advertised in the program, it just kind of happens.
EDDIE: I know one of my biggest obstacles is myself, and so I feel really challenged to be confident in my own abilities. In this program already we’re given a lot of space and we’re pushed into a lot of spaces that we think are uncomfortable, but ultimately uncomfortable situations are the ones that make you grow. I hope to see myself stumbling closer and closer to who I want to be as an artist and I think I have all the tools at my disposal to do that, and a welcoming community to do that with. I see myself being challenged and uncomfortable and a little scared, but ultimately growing from all that anxious stuff.
As a One Year student, how does your attitude and energy at the beginning of this semester compare with how you were feeling at the beginning of the fall semester?
ZACH: This semester I’m coming in with a brighter and more energized mindset. I now know the lay of the land; of the villa and the beautiful town of Arezzo that I live in. Because of this I feel more confident, more stable, and more grounded than I did last semester. Last semester was a bit of a struggle because of all the changes being thrown at me, but now as a “veteran” I feel so much more excited to take on the semester. Last semester I realized when I would be in a down mood, I couldn’t figure out what to do, I would ask myself how do i make myself happy and create joy. I found this semester i’ve set a goal. A minimum of every other day I go to a studio for at least 30 min and create art. Whether that be writing a poem, listening to music, dancing, or moving. This has helped me create more pieces, more art, and ultimately has created a mindset that I can thrive in. Meeting new people, new energies, and new auras, is so cool and is such a different experience. All I can say is “bring it on spring semester 2k18!”
The Return of the Director: Sabine is Back After a Semester Away
After taking a sabbatical during the Spring 2017 semester, the Accademia family excitedly welcomed back Dance Program Director, Sabine Fichter, for the Spring 2018 Dance Program. She took time to speak with us about her artistic work during her time away and how she plans to integrate that experience into the Dance Program.
How was your sabbatical during the Spring 2017 semester? Were you involved in any dance or other artistic projects?
During my sabbatical I did a variety of things. When I had left AdA after spring term 2016 I was involved in a performance project with a musician from Hungary and a writer/sound /video artist from Berlin. We were invited to perform at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland during the festivities of the 100th birthday of the DADA movement. I do like to work inter-disciplinary, so I was reconnecting with friends and artists in Germany, but also developing my solo performances which are more and more site-specific and often outdoors, like „the secret garden“, that I performed in a park which is owned by a friend of mine, who is a landscape designer.
At the end of 2016 and beginning 2017 I deepened my yoga practise on a retreat in the North of Thailand, which was a great experience and had huge impact on me. Since I also do work in a therapeutic setting with young people who suffer from eating disorders I was then looking into different body therapy approaches, such as trauma treatment (TRE – Trauma Release Exercise) or Focusing. Meditation has caught my interest more and more and methods like MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction). In addition to that I am currently training in the Rosen-Method, which is a very gentle hands-on method, developed by Marion Rosen.
I have continued to work in the University Hospital Dresden but have also built up my own private practise, where I work with clients who suffer from body image disorders, eating disorders or simply people who wish to reconnect with their bodies in a healthy way. It seems to me that more and more people are somehow disconnected from their bodies, their sensing and feeling. We tend to develop wrong body images, women (and men!) think that they are not attractive, are ashamed of their physical appearances, simply because we are flooded by a myriad of faked photos of „perfect“ bodies in the media, social media, model shows,etc. The consequences are severe, when even 8-year- old girls start to think that their bodies are „not ok“.
I offer workshops in dance/movement with a focus on body awareness and mindfulness. People who attend my workshops are of all ages, dancers and non-dancers, people with disabilities. I feel that participants have a strong need to find their inner source of creativity , to reconnect with themselves and I do like to encourage them to discover their authentic Self-expression.
I have started to look into the dance/movement work (by Janet Hamburg) for people with Parkinson desease and would like to deepen that in the future. I live next to a seniors residence in Dresden and was asked if I would offer a dance class for the elderly, so that’s the next project.
So, I can say during my sabbatical I went on a journey of many discoveries and also self-development, of course.
How do you hope your semester away impacts Spring 2018 Dance Program?
I believe that all of my new experiences will have an impact on how I approach my work atAdA this term, mainly my teaching. New information has influenced and changed me as a person and educator, as artist and somatic practitioner. It would be rather strange if this would not be influential on what I am doing here.
To say it with a quote by T.S. Eliot: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
MFA Cohort V: a Devised Tragedy
The students of MFA Cohort V, who just began their final semester of training, study and performances in Arezzo, recently created and performed an original, devised tragedy, drawing inspiration from Ellen McLaughlin’s adaptation of The Trojan Women and other classical texts. The piece was created under the guidance and direction of Fabio Mangolini. Below the project description, read thoughts about the piece by Cohort V student, Faith Sullivan.
A consideration of the first and forgotten victims of every war: we draw from the ancient past and the all too recent present to bare witness to the violence endured by women everywhere. Their lives, their memories, and their losses; a dirge for those who have gone before that we might find a new way.
Sophocles’ Antigone, Homer’s Iliad, Ellen McLaughlin’s The Trojan Women; we borrow these words, spoken centuries ago, and say them now in the voice of our time, their relevance tragically modern.
What was the inspiration for this project? How did it get started?
FAITH: I feel that Fabio really chose a topic that was very right for our group. He always says that we are a group that’s sensitive and aware of issues happening around us, and with us being mostly women, the idea for this show fit us well. The main inspiration was the Srebrenica’s massacre in July 1995 during the ex-Yugoslav wars. We spent a lot of time researching, watching documentaries, and discussing the horrors of this genocide and what the victims had to go through, particularly the women. Then we began to create the show, mostly drawing from The Trojan Women and working a lot on the female chorus.
How is this project connected to, influenced by, or relevant to the #MeToo movement and the recent Women’s Marches?
FAITH: The #MeToo movement has demonstrated the importance of addressing assault, harassment and abuse and recognizing the wrongful normalization of it. It is also a strong example of women standing in solidarity. This project is also about women supporting women through times of abuse and trauma. It’s important to give survivors a platform to share their stories and then to give them our full attention and listen.
Only 6 weeks left to claim a place in the 2018 Summer Physical Theatre Intensive and 2018 Summer Dance Intensive! Register by March 15. Click the banner to register.