Dancers In Italy

Experience at La Biennale

So close…

Posted by smartd in Uncategorized on 05 7th, 2011

We’re getting closer and closer to the moment we have been working and waiting for. Our premiere for “Babylon, The Third Paradise” is on Wednesday, May 11, 2011. These past 4 months have gone ridiculously fast. It’s hard to fathom the amount of work we have been doing. The accumulation of performances, rehearsals, lectures and classes feel equivalent to a year. Last night, we were at the theater dancing until 9:45pm. We start our day at the theater at 9:30am and we usually conclude around 6:30pm. We spent literally 12 hours (half of our day) dancing yesterday! Crazy!

The show is now complete and we begin working in the Malibran Theater on Monday. We are now in the technical stages of this process. We are clarifying and working out issues such as costumes, transitions, spacing, lights and music cues. This production is very demanding so the director has been very adamate about what he wants. Everything has to be precise and clear so that each part connects to the other smoothly and no one gets hurt.

I have 1 week remaining here and then I return to Philadelphia for 1 week. I am excited to attend graduation and the awards ceremony. I really miss my family and friends. It will be such an emotional week here in Italy and another emotional week when I arrive home. Immediately after graduation, I will be leaving back out of the country because Arsenale della Danza departs to Brazil for one week in June. We will be performing “Babylon, The Third Paradise”. This program has brought so many opportunities to me and other aspiring artists. The benefits of participating in this program are endless. :) I am so glad to be apart of this life-changing experience.


Easter break!

Posted by smartd in Uncategorized on 04 21st, 2011

We are finally free! We have been dancing 7 days a week for nearly 4 months now and we finally have a break for 4 days! I intend to relax, eat, visit the beach and go sight seeing. There is still so much of Venice that I have not seen. I want to take advanatge of this experience and obtain everything I can from it.

The show is falling together magnificently. Choreography is nearly complete. Transitions between each section are becoming smoother. We all have grown more comfortable with eachother. I can see the difference from when we first started.

I feel like a true professional now. It is a joy to have a room full of talented artists. The other day we had a photoshoot for a German magazine. We performed at La Biennale for a panel of teachers and educators. I was interviewed on my experience here. We are constantly on the move and at a rapid pace. The work load here is so demanding but at the same time so fulfilling.

I must say that as we approach the last three weeks, I am starting to miss my family, friends and Uarts. I have completed all of my requirements and am anxious to transition into a college graduate. It feels so surreal. I feel as though I have done things within my 4 years that artists have not accomplished in their entire careers or lives. I am fortunate and grateful to have received the many blessings of Uarts. It will be so rewarding to return and reunite with those who have contributed to my success.


now even more begins

Posted by pcubbedge in Uncategorized on 04 13th, 2011

ciao to all,

we are now in the works of discoverying and choreographing the final process of the entire Arsenale process. now we are primarly working with mr. ivo on developing a final project inspired by the works of venetian artists as well as his idea of babylon. his inspiration comes from the enviorment of confusion that we live in, culminating diverse cultures into one world that has multiple languages and many differences among eachother. just like the project combines different cultures, babylon once consisted of so many cultures that it was believed to be the paradise of man. ishmael is using this inspiration to piece together his final works that uses the many cultures here at the arsenale into his choreographic process. it is an unbelievable work to start out with and we have only been working now for 2 weeks. this work will be shown here in venice at the arsenale but we will also have the chance to perform across the italian borders in multiple cities including padova, balogna, and many more. the word has spread across all of italy of the work we are doing here and how our representations from different nations, backgrounds, and cultures is an inspiration that the world in a small way is coming together amongst all of the tragic times that are circulating around us. there is word that we might have the chance to take the work we are performing in italy, somewhere else.. sooo i will have to keep everyone posted and hope that through it all there is support for the work we are doing here in italy back at the states. although we are far away, we are always doing our best to not only represent ourselves, but also where we come from and where we were.
rehearsals went well today, and the schedule is starting to become fuller and fuller. we have a small performance today at the giardene bianalle for many teachers across italy to show what we are doing so far, and to also spread the word of what we are doing. in relation to ishamels thoughts on his final piece, there will be public interviews with the dancers here to help express how we come together even though we are all so different. communication with different cultures is difficult but somehow in someway we are able to find a medium and come together to show the world that the times are changing and we are not wanting a seperation anymore, we are wanting a renaissance of reuniting the world we live in. he says the young people in our generation are finding a new hope in developing a new world, and with his hope comes the responsibility that we can make the change.
the process will soon come to a halt, which is extremely sad, but there is so much more to come for us, and for you. Ishamel said a phrase the other day that i think we can all relate and keep close to our hearts… Keep calm, and carry on.


Week 1 of a new chapter

Posted by cotlern in Uncategorized on 04 9th, 2011

Ciao everyone,

I cannot believe that the workshop is over and I’m sure my graduating seniors cannot believe that its time to graduate.  In any case, the journey I have been on so far, with all the choreographers and dancers I have had the opportunity to work with, has been such a blessing.  We are finished with all open doors and guest choreographer performances for the season and now we are focusing solely on the show of Ismael Ivo, our director.

The show is going to be incredible, and the process is absolutely beautiful.  The show is called Babylon- The Third Paradise, and its more or less the final chapter of a trilogy of his past two shows, Wasteland and Oxygen.  Both of these shows have enormously powerful meanings, that I personally feel very much in touch with. Through this rehearsal process we will be learning some rep work from the two past shows and at times, collaborating with Ismael to create our Babylon. We are reading texts, and researching Babylon as well as a few other topics during the process and really studying and discussing with our bodies at all times.  Concentration, intelligence, and delivering the task are what is most important during the 9:30- to 7pm rehearsal day.

Earlier it the week we had to do an improvisation with a partner.  Each partner had there own roll of packaging tape and the only way for you to communicate with your partner was to continue to roll him/her in the tape until there was no more tape left.  This improv was so brilliant but so hard. Trying to move when your body is wrapped in packaging tape, trying to fully wrap your partner in the tape, and still look like you are dancing, in some way, was so frustrating and amazing.  Its little experiments like this that I love about Ismael.  When we are pounding all of this choreography into our brains he stops us and tell us that we aren’t just dancers at a school of rabbits hopping around, that we have to be artists as well…. and then he brings in fifty rolls of packaging tape and tells us to go at it.

Next week, he says were flying and I would not be surprised if that was actually the case.

I’ll let you all know, peace and love!



Posted by smartd in Uncategorized on 04 6th, 2011

Yesterday we began working with Franca, Luca and the artistic director Ismael Ivo. Our days are getting longer and more intense. We have Franca for yoga in the morning at 9:30am. After, we begin rehearsal with Ismael. Following that we go to lunch and return for a Forsythe class with Luca. Last, we conclude with a 4 hour rehearsal with Ismael.

The final production in May that we will be performing in is titled “Babylon, The Third Paradise.” Ismael is using the mythology of Babylon as inspiration for this work. The story of how God punished the people’s arrogance by creating confusion between race, languages, ethnicities and skin color is genius. We will be put on a set of a white background and will be dressed in all white as well. The work is supposed to experiment with how we will communicate without typical tools such as language. It questions how the world functions now and how it will function in the future with or without these things. The mythology, symbology and relevance in this concept is so powerful. Reflecting disasters such as the American oil spill, Haiti and tsunamis in Japan all apply to this process. We have been researching information, movement and exploring various ideas already. I am excited to see what is produced in the end. I am anticipating seeing the world in the future, if it still exists, and how these various questions will be answered. We are researching history, living it and creating it.


Posted by cotlern in Uncategorized on 03 29th, 2011

dear uarts

the spring is finally here in venice and it is so beautiful to walk to class everymorning looking out at the ocean.  we have almost arrived at our finale of the open doors workshop process. as you know we worked with othella dallas last week which was yet again a beautiful experience.  her performance at the open doors last saturday was so amazing to be a part of. now we are working with our final guest choreographer kenji takaji from pina bausch.  kenji  is such a calm and brilliant person.  the information he is teaching us is so inspirational and different then what i have ever learned.  the process with kenji is a collaborative one there for we are not only learning his movement but studying our own and putting it together for a final performance.  we have had the oppurtunity to learn so many new techniques of improvisation from him but also new dynamic movement that is so creative.

this process as a whole thus far has been so remarkable.  I cannot begin to put into words how much i have learned from each new artist we have studied with.  from each of them, i take and cherish the information given and know that i can always  relate back to what they have shown me.

We also finished our studies with Choreographic Collision this past weekend, which was the 5 choreographers who were chosen to set work on the dancers.  We performed our chosen work on the vaparettos, the boat system, this past weekend and it was such an experience.   If you can imagine, it is quit difficult to dance on a moving boat to begin with, not to mention how many people are transfering from boat to boat as you are dancing side by side with them.  dancing with the public was a great oppurtunity and a scary one as well.  you have to be completely spacially aware at all times and you have to stay in your character no matter what is happening around you.  Although I very much so enjoyed the experience with Choreographic Collision, I am relieved its over.  We are doing so much and its nice to have just a little more time for my mind and body to breath.

As it our last open doors performance of the workshop we will begin preparation for our final performance,choreographed by Ismael Ivo, our director.  We have some interesting topics to research prior to the rehearsal process but I am indeed stoked to piece together what all this information relates to.  I will be sure to keep you posted as I continue to research and continue to learn more about myself, my artistry and so much more.

peace and love,


Its almost done, but we have only just begun

Posted by pcubbedge in Uncategorized on 03 29th, 2011

hello again,

at the moment we are working with Kenji Takagi, a company dancer from Pina Bausch. absolutely an unbelievable man, and teacher. his way of movement is pretty complex because he wants us to be more realistic which is difficult at times for dancers because we are always putting our bodies in unrealistic positions when it comes to anatomy. just like francesca harper, we are working alot with improvisation, but its very different. we are doing alot of manipulation with the body by pushing, pulling, and hitting body parts to explore their ending points, and explore where our body takes us. we are also experimenting with the use of multiple body parts, not only the arms and legs. it is difficult and is a very interesting way of movement, if you have the posibility google his name and see what you can find because his background and dance style is truly one of a kind. he is unbelievably talented in such a unique way, and moves like no one i have ever seen before. at first glance you might think that hes not a dancer, but once he begins to move he glows and makes you double check.

i truly cant describe this process that im able to take part in. its unfortunate that he is our last master teacher, but really this journey has only just begun. after the week is over we will begin preparing for the final gala performance and our tour of italy. so there is more work to be done, but its not work to any of us, its truly educational and a gift to be here.

the pictures below are from the live open doors.. unfortunately all my ribs are showing but i promise to all that im in italy and there is no way that i wont enjoy the italian cuisine…. YUUUUMMMMYYYY so no worries


Posted by pcubbedge in Uncategorized on 03 29th, 2011

woops… actually an 86 year old woman kicked our butts..

its hard to describe in words how she is, but hopefully just by what is written and some of the pictures below you can get a little clue of her personality and beauty.


Oh Othella:)

Posted by smartd in Uncategorized on 03 23rd, 2011

Last week, we worked with the beautiful and legendary Othella Dallas. Currently 86 years-old, she is still functioning like she is 40. I am missing her already as she departs to Switzerland. The way she would make me laugh, hit me and bang on the drums in class is so admirable. Luckily, I was able to speak to with her personally about her life and experiences of the past. She informed about her experience fighting segregation during WWI and WWII. She provided me with beautiful imagery of how she sang with Nat King Cole and Billie Holiday. I watched her reflect on the memory of her name being outside in lights at the Apollo theater. This woman is a gem. She is the last living original member of the Katherine Dunham Company. It was a pleasure not only to  speak and meet Othella Dallas. I will treasure the fact that I was also fortunate enough to take class from her and perform with her. I have never seen a woman so talented with the abilities to dance, sing, act and play drums all at the same time. Her capabilities are unfathomable. Her age and wisdom makes everything about her just more remarkable.


Moving the City!

Posted by smartd in Uncategorized on 03 21st, 2011

This week we will be dancing on the vaporettos, the transportation system here in Venice which is basically a series of boats. We are collaborating with young emerging choreographers and will be performing their choreography on various vaporettos throughout the city. The name of the project is Choreographic Collision. This is a completely foreign experience. The abstractness of dancing on a boat and moving through pedestrians is simply remarkable. I am anxious to see how people will respond to our movement and how successful this project will be. My group has a choreographer from Poland. The group’s choreography is emphasized with the feet. We are trying to express emotions through the feet, using text, rhythms and movement. It will be interesting to see if we will be free to execute the choregraphy as given or if we will have to modify it in order to accomodate our surroundings and environment. There will be photographers and videographers recorded and monitoring the entire project. We have already been in the newspaper multiple times! This project is gaining so much publicity and more people are returning to see what our next performance will consist of. I am looking forward to find out as well. :)

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Welcome to the UArts blog "Dancers in Italy" where three University of the Arts students, seniors Noelle Cotler and DJ Smart, and junior Patrick Cubbedge, share their experiences in Venice, Italy, while preparing and participating in the prestigious Italian dance workshop at La Biennale di Venezia!