• New Year, New Us: an Accademia dell’Arte Newsletter

    by  • February 26, 2019 • Newsletter, Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    New Year, New Us: an Accademia dell’arte Newsletter

     Thanks for checking out the first newsletter of the Spring 2019 semester. We are one month into the semester and the spirit of collaboration is in the air. The villa is filled with students from thirteen different universities, who are participating in one of three different programs: the Spring 2019 Physical Theatre Program, the Spring 2019 Dance Program, and the 2018-2019 One Year Physical Theatre Program.

    In addition to Core Classes and Core Faculty, this semester we’ll welcome guest faculty for workshops such as Clowning, Butoh, the Experimental Laboratory, and Leather Mask-making (to name a few). Plus, there are study tours to Ljubljana, Slovenia and Castelfiorentino, Italy. We are excited to continue our hard work and can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester brings.

    Scroll down to hear from students and faculty about not-to-miss moments from the first month of the semester. Plus, don’t miss the upcoming application and registration deadlines for the 2019 Summer Intensives (March 15) and the Fall 2019 Physical Theatre Program (April 1)!

    Collaborative Spirit 

    Here at the Accademia, we strive to create a spirit of collaboration and community between students, faculty and staff … inside and outside of the studio. Below, Physical Theatre student Jess Le-McKeown (Emory College), Dance student Avery Gerhardt (Boston Conservatory), and One Year Program student Peyton Smith (Coastal Carolina University) share how they experience this collaborative community.

    How have you experienced a spirit of collaboration in the studio or classroom?

    JESS:  We’re always encouraged to participate, to give our opinions or our experiences, and to me it feels like they’re given the same weight as everyone else’s thoughts. All our work that we do is in front of each other, so there’s a certain amount of trust that you have to give to that group of people, and most of us didn’t know each other beforehand. To present unfinished or uncertain work takes a lot of collaboration and trust. We also steal from each other all the time, like seeing something funny someone did or an interesting idea someone brought up. It feels like that’s part of the collaborative spirit, sharing ideas.

    AVERY: Two examples are Sabine sometimes takes modern class and uses it as a way to experiment with choreographic ideas, like we’re working on a gestural piece about women and what it feels like to be a woman in the world in this art form and she’s working with us on that. Also just seeing how Sam worked in CabLab was really effective and hearing how he analyzed the process and coached us, but it was improv based and he wasn’t directing us. I think people are excited to make projects together outside of the classroom and experiment with multiple modes of performance including film and visual art and poetry and even philosophy, like the things that we’re reading in class connect.

    PEYTON: I think because of that collaborative setting we’re better able to take bigger risks in class. Because it’s so collaborative and it’s  a group effort, everyone is usually on the same page and working on the same things, so we’re able to take risks and fail forward stronger and more often than usual. We are also able help each other through it and fail together and succeed together. 
    When are some moments that you’ve experienced a collaborative atmosphere outside of the studio or classroom?

    JESS:  I love doing the chores with other people. For example two of the people in my core group are a dancer and a one year student and I don’t get to spend a lot of time with them. Somehow taking the trash out together is a collaborative way for us to organize and get to know each other. I always see people laughing and joking while they do chores. I genuinely believe I could ask any staff or faculty about anything in life, not even theatre related, like Dnd advice from Seamus or like the other day I asked for shoe advice from Monica, and it’s such an open environment to ask about anything.

    AVERY:  I think the most convenient part is that we live upstairs and the studio is across the hall or downstairs. I have a lot paranoia about walking outside late, it’s comforting to know that the studio is here and that we can come together in a matter of minutes and be working together. That’s been really huge for me and my time here. Being able to just walk down the stairs into the studio and collaborate with my peers at any time. The way that we do community group chores has also allowed us a lot of possibilities to mix up our friend groups and dissolve cliques. There’s obviously people that are closer to each other, but it was intentional that a lot of dancers didn’t room with just dancers and that’s awesome, and other activities we do all together like incorporating the talk on political correctness and the contemporary performance seminar and lectures given by Scott have been nice to come together as a group outside the of studio and hear the thoughts of other people that we’re not working with all day.

    PEYTON: It’s really a support system, outside as well as inside to. Outside the classroom, because of the collaborative spirit, we’re able to go to each other for help more, whether it’s about asking a peer to watch my movement piece or give me notes on how my voice sounds or talking about my emotional problems it’s a safer space to work with our peers and faculty.

    How does this impact how you learn, create, or perform?

    JESS: I think because art is so inherently social there is so much value in having a large group of people working and giving their voices to one project and the way that we use it to build each other up and build on top of what others bring. In a team some simple hierarchical structure is okay, but when one person feels really subordinate it can be hard to feel like your opinion matters, whereas with a collaborative spirit the space wouldn’t be the same with each other. I know it wouldn’t be the same without me or without Emily for example, or without anyone from the group.

    AVERY: I think it’s motivated me because of the convenience, it’s easy that you don’t have to jump on the subway or walk a long way to the studio. I think it’s made me more social that I am in Boston. I keep thinking about what Becca first said when we got together for a meeting in the teatrino during our first week about trying as much as you can to rely on the people and space here instead of trying to rely on people at home. I definitely would have tended to rely on people home and this collaborative spirit has provided me the opportunity to feel uncomfortable in having to engage in things that are unfamiliar, but it’s caused my relationship with the people and the space to grow pretty intensely pretty fast.

    PEYTON: Because everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and we’re seeing those in a classroom setting being able to explore those on both ends, which is scary, we’re able to see different techniques and habits and different learning and movement styles in action from our peers. We can see how the faculty works with them on those things and we’re able to apply them to our own work and also know who to ask for help. If I’m dealing with certain technical issues in movement I know who to go to because I’ve seen when certain peers have strengths in that area. We know how to better work together through those differences and better to communicate with our peers through seeing their work. It’s interesting how you can learn about someone through seeing their work.


    We sat down with Physical Theatre Program Director, Nhandan Chirco and Dance Program Director, Sabine Fichter to hear their perspective on being part of this collaborative community and its importance to their programs.

    How do you hope your students experience this collaborative sprit in the studio?

    NHANDAN: Culturally our mind set  is strongly grounded in a competitive approach. This has a good side, but in our pedagogy we encourage everyone to set it a side for a moment and to experiment with resources coming from synergy. A lot is possible through synergy.  Awareness of one-self is an essential starting point because we as performers and authors are both the creative mind and the tool for our artistic work. We could not develop this awareness without a certain attitude of acceptance of ones-self, and for that acceptance the surrounding relationships should be supporting it and grounding it.In this sense the collaborative approach is to help individual development. On the other side it is also a challenge –  it implies a lot of communication, discussion, confrontation, negotiation, contamination and discoveries along the process. Yet the results are the genuine offspring of the effort and joy in connecting ourselves to others in the work. This might provide a strong sense of empowerment – the feeling of being capable to meet others in a creative land, to nourish a creative mood, and to move forward in it by exchanging, giving, and receiving.

    SABINE: The students experience collaboration in the classroom daily: the situation that we seek to create between teacher and student is already a collaboration in itself, since it is not just about demonstrating/imitating movement. Students start to collaborate with each other in the process of movement research, improv/creating material, sharing movement material with each other, learning from each other and observing one another, developing ideas together.

    How do you hope they experience this outside the studio?

    SABINE:  Outside the classroom the students find space and opportunities to collaborate with peers from other programs – theatre students and dance students get together, sharing their specific ideas, disciplines, talents, skills, etc. Collaboration can happen anywhere at any time, there are plenty of opportunities.

    How does your pedagogic approach help create a collaborative atmosphere in the studio?

    NHANDAN: In the creative work I mostly provide triggers of creativity, or samples of possible processes to create and to develop materials. A lot of what I do is about detecting personal needs, urgency, motivations – these are artistic needs that are present in the individuals and are forming that specific group. So motivations are coming from within the group, not from outside. Ultimately in the creative work I never tell students what to do. Rather I address the question of what do they need to do. I help them in that and then I help in how to do it – when needed. Once individual core ideas are focused then I ask them to develop a collective work on that – and to do it together. I let them do it – I let them work with each-other and feel that the problem solving is up to their mobilization. It is more a presence of mentoring. When the process flows I observe it and let it flow, when it needs to overcome some blocks I help in finding out what might be a good strategy within that creative context, and to turn it into artistic fuel the problem is raising in that process. It is also very effective the fact that students see us as faculty engaged in the same challenge within our ensemble of teachers. We are constantly giving space to collaborative practices in our pedagogical work, often overlapping with our presence in the other classes. We aim to integrate our pedagogical practices, and for that we need to know deeper and deeper what is the approach of each-one of us by experiencing it in first person, finding the connections that are already present between our teachings, and developing new connection by working side by side. After two years as a teacher of the practical courses, in the final part of the program we are joining each other in classes and focusing on a final collective creation. The program ends with a performance created by students and by us together, it is a communal work that involves the students as creators primarily and all teachers of the main courses as mentors.

    SABINE:  As a teacher one of my goals is to create an atmosphere that is open and allows a big space for creativity. In the dance studio every idea is welcome and can grow within that kind of non-judgmental atmosphere, it shall fall on “fertile ground”. Judgement creates fear, but a supportive non- judgmental environment allows students to share their ideas with confidence. It is also important to make references to classes of other disciplines within the faculty to demonstrate an overall coherence within the programs, so that students understand that they may study different disciplines (dance, voice, commedia) , but we are all sharing a “common ground” which has to do with attitude, teaching philosophy, artistic vision and communication. From my perspective that requires a collaboration among faculty and the students can certainly feel and sense that strongly.

    Resolutions & Expectations

    A month into the semester – and two months into the new year – we spoke to Physical Theatre student Annabel Cantor (Sara Lawrence College), Dance student Kayla Cardenas (Gustavus Adolphus University), and One Year Program student Emma Payne (Fordham University) to hear about their expectations and resolutions coming into the program.

    Think back to before you left to come to the ADA, what were you expecting to learn or experience this semester?

    ANNABEL: I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But I hoped that it would be challenging and more of a lifestyle than an educational program. I guess I was expecting to learn to be able to roll with whatever gets thrown at me because I knew so little about the reality of what I was getting myself into.

    EMMA: My expectation for the first semester was that I was going to spend a lot of time exploring Italy and before the second semester began my expectation was that I was going to spend a lot of time really focusing in and working hard.

    KAYLA: The one thing I wanted to experience was being abroad by myself with no family and no friends from home and being completely independent and meeting new people. Regarding dance, since this is my last semester and then I’m graduating, this experience here will be part of  my thesis on how dance is taught in Europe, what it’s like taught conservatory style compared to what I grew up with at my university in the U.S., and different teaching techniques. I want to take those things back with me.

    Now that you’re one month into the semester, are you on track? Have things shifted or changed?

    ANNABEL: I don’t think they’ve changed a lot because they were so vague to begin with. I definitely have been thinking a lot about the role that discipline plays in my life away from here and the role it’s coming to play here, and how I want to think about different kinds of self discipline and self forgiveness in the future. I’ve come to the realization that I’m not going to be able to…or that I haven’t been absorbing everything that’s happening fully, and kind of forgiving myself for that and knowing that in an experience this intensive things are going to wash over me sometimes, and we can’t be always present in the way that we want to be, but that that doesn’t invalidate an experience or make it less valuable.

    EMMA: First semester ended up being a huge self exploration for myself rather than exploring Italy. This semester, especially because of my back injury, has been focused on healing instead of pushing myself. It has required a different kind of learning from what I expected.

    KAYLA: I definitely found a new respect for myself especially never have traveled alone before, and so being alone has been a great experience, but of course it’s scary. I was in Florence and I had lunch alone, and it opened my eyes to seeing things that I wouldn’t see if I was interacting with someone. It was great to walk around a completely unknown city and take in as much as I could. In terms of dance, with Sabine’s teaching techniques and her specialty in somatics, I’ve been following her teaching style and it’s fantastic. It’s similar to what I’ve experienced but there are differences. A difference I’ve noticed is that the understanding and value of art here seems concrete. In my past experience I haven’t formally talked about the value of art and the way society values art like we do in  philosophy. Giorgio has been opening our eyes to see that we use our senses to indulge in impulses, I’ve been delving into that more to trust myself in what I already know and to help increase my learning through natural impulses that come from moving.

    Where do you see yourself going from here?

    ANNABEL: I guess in thinking about my body as the work, thinking about how my body is the work and that that requires, not more care than I’ve given it in the past, but different kinds of care. And trying to find some balance.

    EMMA: I definitely see myself working to recover, but learning about  more of what that requires and how that informs my artistic process. I see myself slowing down a lot more and taking my time with the things that I do instead of feeling rushed. I definitely see myself just leaving here and continuing to pursue the things I’ve been exposed to here. I don’t think i’m going to go back to my expectations of my career before I came here.

    KAYLA: Personally, I see myself continuously finding new things about myself being abroad, constantly challenging myself to do things I’m afraid of and facing those fears. I want to be in the moment and not worry about the future, especially since graduation is approaching. It’s hard to not think of things back home, and especially with money issues that I’ve had, I’m trying to work it all out and move forward while not having that stress completely flood my mind, and worry me, and make me not have a full experience here. I want a full experience here. I will take all this knowledge and go back to the U.S. and use that to develop my art and the way I move and how I teach and bring that to others and future students. I plan on getting my masters in dance and choreography in the future and specialize in other areas to go into a doctorate of art later in life.

    Complete the Phrase: Quick Student Reflections

    To get an inside take on studing at the Accademia we asked some of our students to “complete the phrase” about their thoughts and experiences so far this semester.

    Below we hear from Physical Theatre students Georgie Johnson (Oberlin College) and Ellie Strayer (Skidmore College), Dance students Katie McmMorrow (Hamilton College) and Maya Leschinsky (Muhlenberg College), and One Year Physical Theatre Program students Tucket Shoji (Coastal Carolina University) and  Ivan Jermyn (Coastal Carolina University).

    I came to the ADA to…

    … discover new ways of using myself in performance and to focus on the process of creating. – Georgie Johnson, Oberlin College (Spring 2019 Physical Theatre Program)

    … dance and explore my artistry and to learn about movement. – Maya Leschinsky, Muhlenberg College (Spring 2019 Dance Program)

    … discover my artistic self.  – Tucket Shoji, Coastal Carolina University (2018-2019 One Year Physical Theatre Program)

    … develop ensemble skills and to learn more about the artist I want to become. – Ellie Strayer, Skidmore College (Spring 2019 Physical Theatre Program)

    … to study dance. It was the only program option for my school for studying dance and I really wanted to be studying dance abroad. – Katie McMorrow, Hamilton College (Spring 2019 Dance Program)

    … train in a different way. – Ivan Jermyn, Coastal Carolina University (2018-2019 One Year Physical Theatre Program)

    By the time the semester ends I hope…

    … to be more comfortable using my voice (and the rest of me) in improvisation and learn to support my ensemble in and out of performance. – Georgie Johnson, Oberlin College (Spring 2019 Physical Theatre Program)

    …  to take a huge artistic risk. I want to really create something where I don’t second guess myself and I’m also working on not apologizing for my artistic ideas. – Ellie Strayer, Skidmore College (Spring 2019 Physical Theatre Program)

    … to take a lot of risks. – Maya Leschinsky, Muhlenberg College (Spring 2019 Dance Program)

    … to be comfortable in new situations and adapting to new situations. Also to be comfortable in different styles of dance. – Katie McMorrow, Hamilton College (Spring 2019 Dance Program)

    …  to have made life long friendships, grown in some shape or form, and understand the difference between red and white wine. – Tucket Shoji, Coastal Carolina University (2018-2019 One Year Physical Theatre Program)

    …I can combine my skill sets.  – Ivan Jermyn, Coastal Carolina University (2018-2019 One Year Physical Theatre Program)

    Before I came to the ADA I never thought I would…

    … have to challenge myself in speaking onstage. Identifying primarily as a mover, I always knew my voice was a weak link in my abilities as a performer, and something to work on–but I always thought it would be later in my artistic career. I came into ADA with the PHYSICAL imprinted in my mind less than the THEATER. Now I’m having to face my fears of vocalization much sooner than planned. I think this is a good thing. – Georgie Johnson, Oberlin College (Spring 2019 Physical Theatre Program)

    …be a mover.  – Ellie Strayer, Skidmore College (Spring 2019 Physical Theatre Program)

    … learn to be normal… Giorgio always talks about this in class…learning to just be. In the sense that I don’t have to try as hard and make my body do things, to just let my body be. – Maya Leschinsky, Muhlenberg College (Spring 2019 Dance Program)

    … make such close friends so quickly. – Katie McMorrow, Hamilton College (Spring 2019 Dance Program)

    … find my voice. I grew up quiet, and as I became a young adult I realized life was easier without opinions. Then I took a voice class at CCU that was very interesting, but hard for me to connect with. The class made me realize how important it was that I learn to free my voice,  but didn’t give me the tools that I found accessible to do so, and I was worried that no tools would ever work for me. But here they have! – Tucket Shoji, Coastal Carolina University (2018-2019 One Year Physical Theatre Program)

    … fully give myself to the method of tremors. I haven’t entirely been able to access my emotional range through voice/breath classes, so being in this environment has really helped me to lose former inhibitions and embrace other techniques. – Ivan Jermyn, Coastal Carolina Univeristy (2018-2019 One Year Physical Theatre Program)

    I’ve been surprised by…

    … how simultaneously complex and simple the world is. In terms of art, everything I’ve learned is complex but simple. In terms of culture, a human is just a human but there are so many nuances that are different. And relationships with people…it’s easy to just be a friend, but also it’s not easy at all. – Tucket Shoji, Coastal Carolina University (2018-2019 One Year Physical Theatre Program)

    … not getting tired of pasta. – Ivan Jermyn, Coastal Carolina University (2018-2019 One Year Physical Theatre Program)

    A challenge I’ve faced so far is…

    … letting go. Trying to let go. Let go of physical control. – Maya Leschinsky, Muhlenberg College (Spring 2019 Dance Program)

    I’ve been surprised by…

    … spraining my ankle and not being able to dance when I really really wanted to. – Katie McMorrow, Hamilton College (Spring 2019 Dance Program)

    I wasn’t expecting…  

    … the mental and emotional rigor of the classes I am currently taking. Days are long (literally and metaphysically) and taxing in such unexpected ways. But I am surprised at the joy I experience being wholly engaged in the act of learning here in a way I haven’t felt consistently for a long time. – Georgie Johnson, Oberlin College (Spring 2019 Physical Theatre Program)

    … to meet so many people who are pushing me intellectually and creatively and immediately click with the in class ensemble. -Ellie Strayer, Skidmore College (Spring 2019 Physical Theatre Program)

    Now that I’ve been here for a month…  

    … I’m excited to continue. I’ve been thinking a lot about things that I’ve never thought about before, going deeper into my dance practice and why I do it. A lot of new thoughts and movements. It’s made me excited and thoughtful.  – Maya Leschinsky, Muhlenberg College (Spring 2019 Dance Program)

    …  I’ve traveled lots of new places and have gotten comfortable being in new cities alone. – Katie McMorrow, Hamilton College (Spring 2019 Dance Program)

    The first thing that comes to mind when I think of my time here so far is…  

    … Nadia and the roof. Also the feeling of a good handshake, but for the soul. – Tucket Shoji, Coastal Carolina University (2018-2019 One Year Physical Theatre Program)

    … fairytale. – Ivan Jermyn, Coastal Carolina University (2018-2019 One Year Physical Theatre Program)

    Every day at the ADA…

    … you can expect oddities, boundlessness, and laughter. – Georgie Johnson, Oberlin College (Spring 2019 Physical Theatre Program)

    … I push myself a little bit harder and just yesterday I had a thought and I was like omg I’m more flexible than i’ve ever been in my entire life and I’m really grateful that I’ve found this level of determination because I don’t think I’ve ever shown the world that before. – Ellie Strayer, Skidmore College (Spring 2019 Physical Theatre Program)

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