The dancers kicked off the semester’s final performances with a Tarantella show under the direction of Ashai Lombardo-Arop and Gianni Bruschi at Spazio Seme, in the city center of Arezzo. To round out their semester, the dance students shared a demonstration of their work in Contemporary Performance with Giorgio Rossi. The students each performed a solo piece and as part of a quintet.
We interviewed Victoria Awkward (Goucher College) about her process preparing for the contemporary final:
At first, Giorgio asked us to create a piece that represented who we were as dancers. I remember feeling really nervous to share my work with the class during one of the first weeks. Because the solo was so personal I was nervous to share so much about myself with the rest of the class. But the first time I performed my solo I felt truly liberated. It felt so good to take up all this room and space and just share who I am with my classmates. Each class, Giorgio really encouraged me to continue to look within. He asked me let go of excess aesthetics. He made me asked me to rip my solo down to the bare essentials of Victoria Awkward. He continually reminded us all to, “just let.” This was the idea that we should just let our natural movement quality take over and stop adding extra nonsense on top.The final solo I shared, felt like I was truly going on stage and sharing a piece of myself with the audience. I felt so good because I was allowing myself to just be free in my natural being. I hope that I always remember to do this, in dance and in life. Thank you to Giorgio!
In early April, the physical theatre students shared an open class of Voice that was a culmination of their work with Delphina Fabbrini and their earlier work with Dory Sibley and Helena Walsh. Then, in the final week at the villa, the physical theatre students presented a Movement performance in collaboration with Nhandan Chirco and a Commedia dell’Arte demonstration under the direction of Giangiacomo Colli.
We asked Mekala Sridhar (Sarah Lawrence University) and Sophia Gore (Boston University) to reflect on their work in Commedia:
MEKALA: Thinking about the beginning of the semester when we first started our commedia class and we were doing physicality exercises compared to the end of the semester when we were rehearsing and then performed a fleshed out scenario that we created as an ensemble feels a bit like magic. What stuck out to me the most from this process of creating a scenario was the balance between structure and freedom. We built up, out of nothing, our own structure of a scenario, and in that created characters that were derived from commedia stock characters, and within these bounds set by the scenario and characters, we were free to improvise. These ideas of freedom and structure are prevalent in all kinds of theatre, but this semester showed me how this balance is an inherent part of commedia just by the way the form works. Finding this balance between freedom and structure is something that I really appreciate because it allows for spontaneity that doesn’t turn into chaos, but is instead able to be harnessed in a productive way. This balance that is so ingrained in commedia is something that I know I will strive to bring into my future projects.
SOPHIA: Preparing for the Commedia final was different than any other experience I’ve had preparing for a show. Because it is structured improvisation, we had the freedom to try new ideas and develop our characters all throughout the process. Sometimes with structured text, I forget to play and have fun in performance! As a future performer, I will carry the skills of improvisation and listening that I learned from Commedia, always allowing my work to be fun and fresh!
The five students in the 2016-2017 One Year Physical Theatre Program presented their final performance, “A Genocide of Worms,” on April 26th. Devised independently over the course of the past semester, and drawing from their coursework over entire school year, this performance included elements of movement, voice, clown, and more.
We interviewed Korilyn Hendricks, Sydney Copeland-Goodman (Coastal Carolina University) and Emma Peretz (Muhlenberg College) about the process of devising the final performance:
KORILYN: Devising and preparing for my group’s final performance was definitely an interesting process!! We began with a brainstorm session, in which we proposed pieces we wanted to produce, as well as came up with a rough theme for the show to piece all of the bits together. The journey as a whole was unexpected because, as we worked and took in new experiences and new media, other themes began to emerge: the struggle to be present, the absurdity of daily life, what it feels like to be trapped by the mind or the body, the intricacies of human connection. Our entire scheme changed halfway through the process, but all the pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit more squarely into the new mold. Things were constantly in flux, up until the day of the show (which, to me, was nerve-wracking!!) We worked individually, in small subgroups, and as a whole as necessary in order to work on specific parts of the final piece. As the performance date got closer, we almost always worked all together in order to serve as both an inside and outside eye.
The outcome was far better than I expected! It was a lot of fun, the audience seemed to enjoy it, and we were exhausted and energized by the end of it all. We moved a few people, and for that I am grateful. Because of this, I feel that we succeeded.
It was surprising how much of what we have learned this year came out in our work – naturally, the clown bits were actively inspired by our work with André Casaca, and a lot of the physical composition strategies we worked on with Sam McGehee came into the mix. What surprised me, though, was how much of it was just in my bones. There are things I will instinctively do on stage now that, at the time, I don’t realize is something learned from Dory Sibley or Nhandan Chirco or Giangiacomo Colli or Ginevra Scaglia. When I think about it later, I reflect on how much my mind and body has changed to allow for these new techniques. I am so glad to have had this opportunity, and I cannot wait to continue my studies back home and apply all that I’ve learned to my future work!!
SYDNEY: Creating a show for our final was a challenging and eye-opening experience. I was able to devise pieces with such amazing people, and as we each helped to direct the show, I felt the fun in directing that I’ve never felt before. We worked very hard to create pieces that had a lot of meaning to each of us individually and that incorporated what we learned in different classes and workshops over the year.
As we got into position to start our show and opened the doors to let people in, I couldn’t help but to be over joyed at the amount of people that came to support us. With all of the energy in the room, we had the most amazing time performing our show to the people we loved and it was better than we could have ever expected!
EMMA: My process of devising really came from further development of the work from the end of last semester integrated with the skills learned from the entire year. This concept of “development” challenged me to keep on questioning ideas and images I wanted to explore and conceptions of how my body can act as a vessel for story telling. The outcome was truly unexpected and much of that came from Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, The Panther. At the end, the text was like a string connecting us all together.
Over the course of three months, so much happens, yet it all seems to go by in the blink of an eye. To get a closer look at what really happened this semester, we asked unergraduate students Lily Hargis (Boston University), Anthony de Marte (Muhlenberg College), and Mackenzie Cala (Boston University) to share their top highlights of their time in Arezzo and what they will take with them moving forward. Plus, Scott McGehee, Founding Director of the Accademia, had his own semester highlights to share.
LILY: Being at the Accademia feels like joining a family with deep, deep roots. From the “How to Survive the ADA” book in the living room to seeing our teacher’s photo in a textbook working with Grotowski himself, the program is all about legacy/passing things on and I’m so proud to join that.
ANTHONY: I can definitely say that I will leave Italy with a greater sense of understanding my own artistic and personal identity after being immersed in a heavily communal environment for three months. The nature of our working and living conditions also taught me how to be a more open, supportive ensemble member, and for that I am eternally grateful.
MACKENZIE: One of my semester highlights was the 45-minute period after lunch where everyone would gather outside and kick a soccer ball around, work on headstands, play music, or just mess around in the grass. It was a great atmosphere and a nice treat in the middle of a long day of classes.
SCOTT: Looking back on the spring semester it appears that the addition of a working trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia was the highlight of the term. Our undergraduate director Nhandan Chirco has opened up numerous contacts with the artistic life of that extraordinary city, including working with renowned director Tomi Janezic, director and publisher of Maska Janez Jansa, the dance company EnKnapGroup and choreographer Istok Kovac, and a concert from Tomaz Grom. Students deeply appreciated the opportunity to work with these well-known artists and to discover a small window into the artistic life in Eastern Europe. We are eager to develop this international network and incorporate it deeper into our curriculum.