Last week, I travelled 15 hours via 2 planes and a bus, so that I could spend 3 months living in a house on top of a hill with a bunch of people I didn’t know… in Italy.
I had also spent close to a year prior imagining what it would be like to live in said house on a hill for 3 months, studying dance almost exclusively, and (theoretically, at least), transforming into the best version of myself.
I have only been here a week, but so far I would like to think that I am in the best possible company for transforming myself.
“Inspiring” has been my word of the week, because between the beautiful scenery on all sides of the villa and the city which holds cobblestone streets filled with history and the artists, the students and our teachers who are so, so passionate about being here, how could anyone stand within the walls of this yellow house on a hill and not be inspired?
I came here with no goals, no habits to break, no walls to climb. I came here with the sole purpose of learning and absorbing everything I possibly could, to start on my path to becoming the best artist that I can. To be open to whatever this life, these classes, these people throw at me. Not to force or challenge anything. Just to open myself up to receiving anything that comes my way.
Just as a description of a sunset cannot communicate the beauty of it, I struggle to find the words that adequately describe what it’s like to be here in Arezzo. I’m learning ‘who I am’ in this ancient place, which has existed for as long as I have been alive and longer. The night we arrived the air was lightly brisk, and it touched my face in a gentle, curious way. The wind threw my hair in front of my eyes and I had to sweep it away to take in the orange and pink light that pushed its way through the clouds and onto the rolling landscape of tuscany. It seemed that the world was working to ease me into my new life, meeting my fears with a delicate radiance that would find its way into my heart as I slept. Each day I have been pushed, stretched, and strained as my classes introduce me to concepts and theories that are new to me. In some ways these concepts are as hard to grasp as the Italian that is spoken at (not to) me, during what feel like the moments I am least equipped to deal with it. Yet each evening I’m granted a moment of peace as the sun sinks away, and throws its colors onto the city in a completely unique and yet comforting way.
Friday’s sunset greeted me as my sore body cried out with every step, and the chilly air wiped away the sweat that exposed how hard I was working just to meet the expectations of my classes. My feet dragged through the snow as I pulled myself up the steps of the Teatrino in order to relish the view that has become my spring board into each exhausting new experience. The moment the light hit my eyes I felt that I could pull the air into my lungs with a strength that had eluded me all day. As the sun fell behind the city walls, heavy streaks of orange appeared above me as if a rake had etched them out in the sky. The center of the clouds were dark grey, threatening to obscure the city in even more snow, but the transparency at their fringes allowed a softer blue to melt into the warmer colors of the earth. As the evening turned to twilight and finally dusk, I turned my attention back to my new friends whose smiles have encouraged me throughout the day to keep trying when I don’t have time to bask in the complex beauty that surrounds us. The famous title “Under the Tuscan Sun” is truly the most appropriate way to convey how the same sun that I knew back home has the power to heal me here. While a stage light is powerful enough to illuminate anything, it isn’t until it touches the face of an actor that the light begins to glimmer. With 8 sunsets behind me, I still have too many to count in my future, and I am beginning to realize that they will expire too quickly when the sun begins to set on my time here in Arezzo.
There was something pretty surreal about seeing snow here. Coming from frigid New England temperatures, I was initially less than enthusiastic when I heard there was snow on my first Friday here. Nevertheless, when I emerged from our Tarantella class on Friday afternoon I was mesmerized by the beauty of snowy Tuscany. It’s a strange sensation to feel like you’re quite literally in a painting. The beauty of the snow covered hills and city is almost overwhelming. I feel like this setting and this program will be incredibly inspiring for my art and my life and I am so excited for all of the new adventures and experiences that await me in this amazingly beautiful country.
Yesterday we had our first lesson in the dance of Tarantella. In the last exercise we were asked to imagine that the door of the Teatrino was “our next stage of life.” Our teacher went on to say how we have died and been reborn many times in our life. Our task was to get to the door in whatever time it took. Visualize that new person. That new self. We could look back at our old self, but we had to accept the changing of the self– and most importantly, we had to move on. Not “move on”, like I’ve used it in the past. Move on as in a fact– not a command. I’ve forced myself in the past to move on because I had to. I had to bite the bullet. But what if I could truly just accept the fact that we all are changing into different people constantly? That growing up doesn’t necessarily mean a better stage of life, or something to get us to that climax, to the top of the mountain. What if, instead, we are in a field, and as we keep walking we meet a different person. Our path is not linear. As I turned back, during the exercise, I saw this little boy who looked calmer than my mom has ever described him. Just sitting. His feet dangling off a rock. Smiling, but saying nothing and waving quietly. I turned back around.
“Pass this torch”