In the pre-arrival documents for the Accademia dell’Arte, it was noted that European instructors might be more critical than the American instructors most of us are used to. Maybe it’s because I’ve previously worked with artists from around the world in and outside of the university setting, but what I’ve experienced over the past four weeks has not reflected that sentiment. Rather, what I absolutely love about working with international instructors is the vast range of experiences they translate into their teaching. All of my instructors here at the Accademia come from different places and cultures, which has had a profound effect on their lives and artistic experiences. As I learn from them, I pick up bits and pieces of their knowledge, not to mention that many of the techniques we learn also come from various places worldwide. Instead of being faced with harsher criticism from international instructors, I am gaining new insights and perspectives I might not be exposed to otherwise. Through this invaluable experience, I am building an international artistic vocabulary.
– Rachel Rees, Physical Theatre
I chose ADA with the knowledge that I would be pushed beyond my limits in dance and that I would have to push myself and trust in the process. I’ve never been asked to dance so much in my life, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. The dance program here is almost indescribable—it’s a melting pot of modern and ballet technique, Laban, Dance Performance, Tarantella and Butoh (which starts next week!). Basically, ADA has it all!
Each class is different in its approach to movement, asking us to find our own sense of style and creativity in each exercise. The technique classes provide the foundation of dance, showing me that it is possible to push my body to place I’ve never explored before, and trust that I can do it. Similarly, in Laban, Dance Performance and Tarantella, we are asked to choreograph individually and in groups, learning how our body works separately, and how we can combine our movements together. After each of our classes, we are all sweating, exhausted and in awe of what we have just collectively experienced.
One of these “awe” moments has been in my Dance Performance class. We have been asked to create a 2 minute solo that embodies who we are as movers—to tell our story. This isn’t an easy thing to do, in fact, I am still struggling with choreographing my solo and it’s due in two days. But why is it so hard to create a solo when I’ve created so many throughout my three years in college? I think it’s different here because our teacher, Giorgio, is asking us to really focus on what we want to say. Throw the technique out the door and do what you’re body wants to do. It’s not about creating a dance that looks good or has the right number of turns or leaps in it. It’s about finding ourselves in each movement; showing who we are as individuals, as dancers, separate from what we’ve learned. It’s about focusing on the intricate movements that make up the whole. We’ve learned that moving a finger can be just as powerful as doing a combination of movements across the floor if it has the right conviction. Presence is what matters the most—and for me, this is hardest to find. It is lessons like these – how to find myself in dance, how we can all find ourselves in our individual and unique movements – that makes the ADA such a special program.
Through all these new journeys we have embarked on in our classes, there is a sense of community and togetherness in the group of eight dancers here at the ADA. We already feel like a family, one that has cried together, laughed together, and found ourselves in awe of such inspiring new classes and teachers.
– Jordan Ezra, Dance
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard that European teachers are more intense in their grading and teaching styles. After arriving, I have come to realize how great of a system it is. Sometimes at home I find myself frustrated because I don’t feel like I am being told what I need to work on, where the problems are in my work, or where my work stands within a system of grading. It often seems like the only grades given in the U.S. are A’s and B’s for the people who show up and do the homework, and F’s for the people who don’t. At the Accademia, the middle grades are used freely. This means that the professors don’t hesitate to tell us where we have room to improve and provide a very supportive atmosphere based on addressing the gaps in our training as artists.
– Will Dameron, Physical Theatre-Design