Life in Italy:
All the rumors are true. The people are prettier, dress better, eat better, live better, and are more loving. But there have been a few curveballs thrown my way, I hadn’t known before I arrived.
People are nice! I was told before I got here that people, especially working in any stores, were going to treat me poorly because I’m obviously American. But EVERYONE IS SO NICE! I feel welcomed, not only by the school but in the beautiful town of Arezzo as well.
Food is actually pretty cheap. It’s apparent that people spend a lot of money on their clothes but food in general is well priced.
Being a woman I have definitely been a little jarred at the amount of attention I am now receiving, especially being blonde. Men not only check you out as you walk by but will literally stare at you for as long as they possibly can until you are out of sight. It’s surprisingly refreshing from the Seattle “hey what a nice piece of a**” . Instead men shout “bella” and “bellissima”. Slightly flattered and slightly disgusted.
‘Grazie’ and ‘per favore’ go a long way. I am not fluent in Italian… yet, but I’ve been surprised at how much I can communicate without knowing the language.
Bidets are everywhere, and sometimes no toilet paper. Yuck.
I haven’t missed my car yet. Walking is fantastic and it’s a great way to get acquainted with the town!
I never want to leave!
The scenery is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined it.
The architecture is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined it.
I can’t wait for all the new surprises I have yet to discover. This place is wonderful.
Life at the Accademia:
Classes at the Accademia have really thrown my training as an actor for a loop. While the American sensibility towards acting is to work from the inside out, exploring the emotions and inner life of a character first, here we learn to work from the outside in. We find the shape a character makes on stage, and it is through that shape that we understand more about who this person truly is. It’s a more matter of fact, straightforward style. My teachers back home can only speculate as to why my character isn’t believable, but here, my Commedia teacher, Michele, can say to me “your foot isn’t facing out” or “stop bouncing! When you bounce I don’t believe you.” It’s revolutionary work.
Before coming to the Accademia dell’Arte, I was hoping to learn and grow while having an incredible experience in a new place, but even those wishes were a complete underestimation of what awaited me here. The faculty are not only experts at their craft, but they are some of the most genuine, passionate, motivating, generous, encouraging people I have ever met. Their positive energy is contagious, and they teach in such a way that I leave class feeling inspired every single day. They continually challenge us while providing us with the support and guidance we need to exceed the limits we set for ourselves. Our teachers also remind us of the connection we have to so much more than we often think of or can see. Their facilitation has enabled us to become such a close-knit community of dancers, and to gain an increased awareness of the connection we have as individuals to the Earth and the universe. “We do not dance on the Earth, we dance into the Earth.” We’ve all had a class along the way during which we spend a majority of the time watching the clock, but here I find myself instead wishing at the end of class that it wasn’t over. We are undoubtedly receiving an outstanding academic education at the Accademia dell’Arte, but we are also learning and growing both as artists and as people in one of the most nurturing communities I have ever been in. I couldn’t be more pleasantly surprised by this true gem of a school, and although it is only the beginning of week 4, I already feel completely at home and saddened by the thought of ever having to leave.
– Shaleigh Phillips, Danni Krehbiel, Kylie Sickler, Matthew Welch