Our Fall 2015 Physical Theatre crew departed the ADA this past Saturday morning. Though we were certainly sad to see them go, we are proud of all their hard work, and it has been an honor watching them grow as artists and people these past three months. Read on to hear some final thoughts on the semester from Sage, Nicole, Billy, and Alan!
Sage King (Bennington College, VT)
The last days at the Accademia were too emotionally charged (and filled with packing) for me to write this blog post. I am now writing from a couch in Milano with two dogs by my side, feeling much more clear headed. I am so grateful that I was able to get to the Accademia dell’Arte, it was my really “good” term in my college experience and probably the best three months of my life so far. Never have I been not only so productive, but constantly inspired to be productive and push myself over the precipice. The Accademia is a very special space that awakens the senses to want to be constantly creating, watching, and listening. I have discovered some of the most incredible connections with people, and found a community of people that is genuinely excited about creating work that I am interested in. A community that is not only excited about their own work, but supporting the work of others. The Accademia became a healing place for me. It became a home. I have been moving around every 3 months for the past few years, and normally I try to bring my home with me. I did not have to do that here. I arrived with just a backpack and without expectations, and a home built itself up around me. I found a family again, I found myself again. I remember standing up on the roof of the teatrino the second day of term and asking myself out loud, “WHAT is this place? HOW is this place?” I found myself this past Friday, the day before the end of term up on the roof again, still asking myself the same question. The Accademia is unquestionably magical and filled with beauty in its most natural form. I became jaded to nothing during my time there. The colors never dulled, the sunsets were always ready to fill my being with light. At moments I could feel myself glowing. It was the hardest place for me to leave, but the only place I have left with such a feeling of peace. I have no doubts that I will return to Arezzo someday, I have no doubts that I will keep relationships and connections I have made there. I may never again experience exactly what I did in the past three months, but those three months were only the beginning, a preparation. I am now ready to start. I have a whole other adventure ahead of me before my Spring term starts in late February, I won’t even be returning to the USA until February 14th. There is work to be done and so many more relationships to be made in the next two months, but they will not replace and dim anything that has been created in my time in Arezzo. The Accademia has given me a reason to want to return to the USA, a place that I had no attachment to when I came here. I want to grow and develop my creative relationships, create work with these people in the future. I am ready to confidently apply what I have learned to my work at Bennington, and explore again with intention. My “Ah-ha!” moment did not come until the end of term, of in the way I expected it to. It came during a bout of cabin fever during which I decided to take a walk and keep walking for as long as I could without knowing where I was going. I walked down San Fabiano for a long time until I stopped at a cemetery that overlooked the valley. I sat in my own silence and took in everything I could. When some children started singing further down the street, my being started buzzing. I realized the I was ready to travel alone. I was ready as I would ever be to go, to create again. I was not ready to leave, but I knew I could. I was not scared the I would forget everything that I learned, that my teachers would forget about me, that my relationships would crumble as soon as we were not living together. I am ready to care about my work and my people. When I fly out of Italy in a day, it will be like starting the first chapter of a new book, but this time I have a prologue, the Accademia dell’Arte, to look back upon and support my story. I have never felt healthier, happier, and more ready to cry over not having real gelato. My gratitude cannot be expressed in words, but thank you so much Accademia. Until next time.
Nicole Esposito (Muhlenberg College, PA)
No other time in my life can match or level up to the last three months here in Arezzo. That may be quite a strong statement to read, but I can confidently state that and know many people agree. Never have I been part of such a special community that allowed me to grow, learn, and love so strongly in such a short amount of time. It makes Arezzo and the Accademia seem to possess some form of amazing magic. But I think it was really us, all the students and staff living and working at the villa, who created this special feeling of cohesion and love for one another.
A moment for me that really solidified this was at our last Tarantella class. Having that class only three times in the three months that we were here made the class that much more of a treat. Spending those two hours with Gianni (I wish there were more hours!), who taught us this dance with a true passion for the art, and a genuine love for teaching, created a really safe space for us to come into the class to just have fun, and not worry what we looked like! In the last 20 minutes of our final class, we all stood in a big circle, and one by one sang a song to each person. We turned to them and said “Can I tell you how I feel? You have given such a richness, I thank you so.” With the weeks dwindling down, I felt myself falling into the stress of our final Philosophy paper, our Voice and Movement finals, and rehearsing Commedia scenes, and I started doubting myself. This whole time I had been here, I was searching for “A-ha!” moments, moments of validation that I belonged in this program. I started getting really judgmental and hard on myself for the smallest things, and it was bringing me down. I didn’t want to leave ADA wanting to leave! So when we all stood and sang this song in Tarantella, even though we repeated it multiple times, I could really feel my classmates telling me that I gave something special to this program; we all did in our own way. Even though this moment made me cry, a lot, it made me realize that all of our talents no matter big or small, came together to form this union of people all wanting to learn and grow, and that means so much to me.
I can’t wait to take everything I learned and apply it to all different parts of my life! In general, a great sense of trust was formed for me between my classmates and myself. And I know this is something that will keep growing. This program has taught me many things, from how to flip a pancake, to how to flip a human over your shoulder. From how to roll your clothing properly in your luggage for long trips, to how to roll juggling balls up and down your hands. From not knowing completely how to love myself, to loving each and every person at the Accademia. And with that, I could not ask for more.
Billy Porges (Vassar College, NY)
Spending a semester at the ADA has been life changing. Arezzo is a magical place where artistic growth is welcomed and encouraged. I do not think there is one specific moment that highlights the entirety of my experience. Instead, the things I want to remember are the big dinners where we all sang along and banged our utensils on the table to a beat. I will remember the long walks into town, and the even longer walk back up the hill. I will remember the crisp smell of autumn and a bonfire as I ambled my way down and over to Pam. I will remember the thunderous barking of dogs that echoes across the void below the villa. I will remember the numerous movie nights, rounds of mafia, and Thursday night “How To Get Away With Murder” screenings. I will remember the warm feeling of laughter, love, and a sense of belonging with all of my friends. The ADA is a place to grow as an artist and the physical theatre program has taught me incredible ways to be aware of my movements. I came here knowing that I was going to learn about theatre, but I am leaving after having been part of an incredible community. The villa is an artist’s space. A space for devising and inspiring. A space for long rehearsals and constant piano playing. A space for people to pursue their passions. I stopped myself in the middle of packing my bags to take a final long stare at the breathtaking view out my window. I may be leaving Arezzo, but my memories will be with me forever.
Alan Mendez (Muhlenberg College, PA)
As these final days have been dwindling down, I’ve taken many moments to assess how I feel. Most of the time, I feel fine. Not exhilarated, not depressed. Just fine. The more I think about this “fine”ness, the more I’ve come to think that it’s the net result of the overwhelming gratitude of being here with the distant, imminent sadness that will accompany this program’s end. This feeling of being fine is not still or weighted in any way. It is lifted, like the feeling in your stomach right before your displaced center of gravity forces you to take a step forward to stop yourself from falling. It is static, but active, milling and seething along the surface of my emotions like gentle ripples across a pond before the storm comes. I cannot tell if my calmness is because the hurricane of emotions has passed, or because I am still in the eye of the storm.
My once-cluttered bedroom here, which I shared with two other roommates, is now sparse. I spent most of the day packing, trying to find creative ways to stuff all the train tickets, programs, bulletins from Holy Mass, and juggling balls into my bags until my eyes landed on some birthday cards my parents, grandmother, and girlfriend had sent to me. I felt tears well in my eyes and my breath curl up inside my chest, and I discovered how much this experience, in its totality, has embedded itself deep inside me. It’s in these busy, action-filled times of packing up and double-checking travel plans that a random trinket or slip of paper triggers a memory, and suddenly the storm of emotions, as if waiting for the right moment, arises and sweeps me up in its magnitude. Although these moments of emotions and memories have moved me to tears, they have not been tears of sadness. I’m not really sad to leave this place, to my surprise; I’m grateful for my time here, and I feel that it’s time for me to return home and apply what I’ve learned. No, my tears have been the only way my body can communicate to my mind what this program, this environment, and these ridiculously talented and loving people have done to me. I still can’t fully articulate it.
Looking at those birthday cards, written by people in a home thousands of miles away from me, put things into perspective for me. I couldn’t know how I felt about going home until I took a moment to comprehend how far away from home I was. It seems silly that such a realization didn’t come to me until my last day here, but in many ways, I’m very grateful for that. Likewise, I’m having some difficulty truly grasping how much I’ve grown from this program because I’m still here. Only once I’m home, thousands of miles away from Villa Godiola, will I be able to see my experience abroad in context with the rest of my life as a student, an artist, and a person. In the meantime, I’ll savor the last slice of prosciutto I taste here, I’ll constantly reminisce about the sight of the sunset above the Duomo, and I’ll jump without hesitation into another impromptu dance party with these crazy, magical, wonderful artists I’m lucky enough to call my friends. Grazie per tutto, Accademia dell’Arte. Ci vediamo.