Saturday, February 27, 2010

Going with the Flo

So today I ended up making a day trip back to Florence.
It was kind of a last minute decision. Kadie's parents are here to visit and they flew into Florence so Kadie needed to go meet them there. Next weekend, I will be taking the train to Florence by myself in order to catch my flight to Norway, so I figured it would be good to re-acquaint myself with the train system. Not only that, but Mark Leslie told me I HAD to find this "Fountain of Monkeys" in the Boboli Gardens so I was going to Florence on a mission. Sam wanted to go to Florence too, so he ended up tagging along.

Immediately after we found Kadie's parents they checked into their hotel and then we had lunch at this great restaurant. I had the best salad I've had here with an omelette which was equally tasty. I expressed to them my keen interest in exploring Il Giardino di Boboli and they were interested as well, so we ventured off to find the gardens. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, we only had an hour and a half to visit the Gardens! It was a very very short visit, but well worth it. They were beautiful. The weather was gorgeous - t-shirt appropriate during the afternoon, but a bit overcast, so it was perfect for walking around. The only debbie-downer about the gardens was that the fountains were all turned off and the flowers weren't in bloom. I have a feeling that once it gets more into spring time it will be stunning - in which case I will probably re-visit. Mark: I asked EVERYBODY where this fountain was and nobody could tell me. :( I'm hoping that I was in close proximity at least. I found one little fountain with monkeys on it, and the fountain itself wasn't incredible but the view was all of Florence. Is that the one you were talking about? Or is it the fountain itself that is breathtaking? You will have to let me know, because if I missed it, I WILL find it when I re-visit the gardens later in the spring.

We got kicked out of the Gardens at 4:30, and afterwards Kadie's parents wanted to go chill back at their hotel for a bit because they were exhausted from the flight, so Kadie went with them and Sam and I wandered. We ended up people watching for quite a bit, and then we re-visited the magnificent Duomo, which I have pictures of in my "Firenze" post. As we were walking around the outside, we saw that the Dome part of it was open. I said to Sam, "Oh man, I bet this is a church service" and sure enough it was! I went to the door and the guards said, "Buona Sera" and then asked us what we wanted and I said "Service" and voila: Sam and I went to a church service in the DUOMO OF FLORENCE! The cathedrale part of the Duomo is absolutely gorgeous - the best part being the Dome. It was painted with the brightest, warmest colors and was in such intricate detail. Although I couldn't understand a word of the service, it was such an experience. Hearing the voices of those speaking and singing ring throughout the duomo was pretty magical. There was a huge age range of people attending the service. The smallest spectactor was my favorite. He was probably about two years old, and although his parents were very into the service, he was not. Instead, he liked to hang out around my feet and smile at me. Also, he liked grabbing on to this old woman's coat in front of him. Everytime he got a handful, he smiled. Adorable. How sweet though - to be in such a beautiful, historical, artistic landmark attending an authentic Italian church service. Beautiful and Intense - church in Italy is not like church in America. Well, religion in Europe in general is just completely different. I mean the church is, by law, the highest building in every Italian City. There ya go.

^look in the window. Crazy picture, huh?

After the service, Sam and I met up with Kadie and her parents again for dinner. They took us out for drinks at this bar and then afterwards we went to this really nice restaurant and I got a salad, Salmon and then Tiramissu for dessert.Her parents treated us (both for lunch and dinner) which was SO nice and unexpected.

I took the train back so I am now home in Arezzo. Tomorrow I need to study for my Italian mid-term (EEK), but I want to do it in town so I'll probably either go into Arezzo or I might take a quick 20 minute train ride to a neighboring town and study there. Either way, I need to get work done.

Buona Notte!
Baci! xx

Hip Socket Soup, cheeky monkeys, and "weighing the fish"


I am going to write two entries for today - the first one based off of the 13 1/2 hours of Contact Improv I had and the second based off my weekend thus far.
I feel it's probably better to separate the two.

So basically - Thursday and Friday were two of the longest days. A guest teacher came in - Thomas Kampe. ( He's originally from Germany but has been teaching in the UK for over 20 some years. He is 51 and so insanely in touch with his body it puts most 20 year olds to shame. He did 7 hours of Contact Improv (mixed with acrobatics and the Feldenkrais method) with us on Thursday and 6 1/2 hours with us on Friday. I haven't been that physically drained probably since week one of the program - it was so intense. Claudia breaks it down simply for us; Thomas threw it in our face (in a good way). He had very high expectations and pushed us and our bodies to the limit - but by the end of the 13 1/2 hours I had learned SO much because I was forced to jump right in. To be honest, we covered so much that it's even hard to speak about it. I will say this: physical work like that commands the body to be present, ready, and willing and I was definitely present for the hours that I was in that room. However, strangely enough, while doing certain things I had very strange flashbacks to my childhood. I suppose this may make sense; Thomas says that the work that you do is just making you a child again. His theory is that, "Well, you did all this when you were little...rolling around...climbing up you are just a bit, well, bigger." He has really funny phrases while teaching (see Title of today's entry) and a hysterically energetic personality. He would tell you to do something (put your weight on somebody and lean into them using your pelvis) and then when you did it after a minute or two he'd be like, "Get off there, bloody hell, what are you doing? That's digusting." The only negative part about the experience was that my back started acting up during parts of it, but other than that it was fanTASTIC. I'm sad that we only had him for two days but I'm hoping that at some point in the future I can take another class with him.

Last night after the long day, a bunch of us went out for pizza at this pizza bar in Arezzo. It was delicious! The best pizza I've had in Italy so far :) I was exhausted though from the two days so I went to bed pretty early.

Time for post number two :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Ciao :)

This week is absolutely flying by.

Yesterday I had voice, movement and philosophy. In philosophy we had an amazing two hour conversation about this Karl Marx reading. The article is called "Estranged Labour". It discusses capitalism, workers vs non workers, the alienation that man has from his community by becoming a wage worker, the value system, and the relationship between labor, value, and beauty. A factory says, "make this" and the factory workers comply. In doing so, the worker becomes a machine. The object he makes is completely outside of himself. There is no inner creation or inspiration - it simply fulfills his job. Example: Cartoonists for Walt Disney. Disney says, "I want you to draw the best cartoon of this". The artist does so. That artist is then selling his own imaginative ability/time to the labor. He has been bought. He is a thing. From this, we brought it down to the basics: Everything has value. Everything. People buy clothes. People buy ideas. People buy sex. Everything is made into a commodity. In a capitalistic society, even love is a commodity. (Valentine's Day). Is it even possible to just freely create anymore? Or does everything, in the end, get a value? Can artists be simply artists and not commodities? Sadly, the answer is no, because we all agreed on a value system - and therefore everything has value. If we didn't have value, our world would be a mess - but having "values" makes it a mess too because at the end of the day, it's all about money. There is so much more to all of this. I could go on yi yi.

Yesterday after class I walked into the city and studied Italian with Kadie at a coffee shop. It was SO nice to study in town! We never get the chance to because our classes usually run a lot later, but our classes have let out earlier this week. Studying Italian while listening to people speak Italian makes the studying way easier. I may have also bought this incredible pair of shoes...but we don't need to talk about that.
Last night Claudia (movement teacher) showed us some videos of her performances. She was on tour throughout Europe for quite a while doing circus/acrobatics pieces with a man. Man -I always knew she was a rockstar but these videos confirmed it. She's insanely talented.

Today we had voice, movement and Italian. We are studying past tense in Italian right now and we had to write a short story today based off these images that Monica gave us in class. It was really fun. I'm a dork like that.. Here is the story that Emily (one of the dancers) and I wrote based off the images - - sorry you can't see the pictures we had to use.

Marisa e arrivata all'agenzia viaggi per pianificare un voyaggio e ha comprato un biglietto a Roma. E entrata l'aeroporto e e passata la biglieterria. Poi, Marisa e andata sull aeroplano e e partita per Roma. Marisa e arrivata a Roma e ha detto "ciao" all'uomo chi ha guidato il tassi. Ha visitata la Colosseum e ha fatto le fotografie. Ha visto la fontana e ha commencato a pensare di Gino. Ha corso a telefonarlo e ha sorriso a sentirlo parlare. Gli occhi hanna incontrato dalla via e hanno deciso a mangiare alla bar. Hanno mangiato e sono innamorare ancora. Ma, catastrofe! Marisa ha devuto partire. Lo ha detto: Ti Amo! Dobbiamo vedere come vanno le cose e e scappata.

Marisa arrived at the travel agency to plan her trip and she bought a ticket for Rome. She entered the airport and stopped by the ticket counter. Then Marisa got onto the airplane and left for Rome. Marisa arrived in Rome and said bye to the man who was driving the taxi. She visited the Colosseum and took pictures. She visited the fountain and began to think about Gino. She ran to the telephone and she smiled to hear his voice. Their eyes met in the street and they decided to eat at a cafe. They ate and fell in love again. But, catastrophe! Marisa had to leave. She said to him, "I love you! We'll have to wait and see" and she ran away.

I couldn't do all the accents (because I don't know how on this blog site) and of course there are several mistakes but hey...after only a month I'd like to think I'm doing pretty well. If only I could speak it like that.

I got WONDERFUL news today. I've been trying to figure out what to do for my spring break. Because I am in Europe and exploring my Italian half, I thought it might be fitting to explore the other half of me - Norwegian! My Grandpa's cousin lives in Norway. I met her and her son when I was about two or three but I haven't seen them since. Well...that is about to change :) Seriously, this whole Europe adventure is becoming quite surreal. From March 6-14 I am flying to Oslo, Norway and staying with my family: Kirsten, Rolf, Kristian (their son, 30) and Tore (their other son, 18). Talk about going back to your roots.... - - AHHHHDGHDJHNW#YJAQ@#YARGB I am SO excited!

A Domani!

Monday, February 22, 2010


Ciao Amici!
The internet has been funky lately so I haven't been able to write! Update since last time:

Voice - We worked on three distinct vocal qualities. 1) Cello - a deep, low, rich sound. 2) Viola - a hollow, plum-in-the-mouth sound and 3)Violin - light and airy. We had to sing the same note but use these three different qualities. It was really interesting - it sounded like people were changing notes even though they weren't just based off of the quality that they were injecting into their voice. We then took this into textwork, creating different qualities within our speech.

Movement - Favorite quote of the day from Claudia: "Life without handstands is nice, but life with handstands is a bit nicer." Can you guess what we worked on? :) In the beginning of class we did an exercise helping our partner move; we made it so that they could feel their joints, lines, and muscles. Afterwards, the awareness that I had about my body in space was amazing. I felt like I could do anything! Which was probably perfect, because then we moved into handstands. ha.

The weather on Friday was out of control - very windy, and pouring rain. When it stopped a bit, I went outside and sat on the balcony. The clouds were barrelling over the mountains and through the sky - stunning. To make things even better, there were guest musicians playing Baroque music all day in the villa, so with that weather and that music it made for a pretty exceptional day.

There was a party at night that I didn't feel like going to, so instead I spent about four hours catching up with my dearest friend, Allison, who happens to be studying abroad in Russia right now. Thank you A-Hip - seriously that made my night.

Saturday and Sunday were both incredibly lazy but incredibly NEEDED days. I went running on Saturday morning and then met some of the girls in the city for some shopping. Kadie and I had a dinner date that evening at Mazzoni (that incredible pasta place). So yummy. Afterwards we went out for drinks with other people from the Accademia and ended up meeting some other American students that are studying in Arezzo. (Apparently there are two American groups here!) Sunday was a similar day - listened to music, walked into town, and oddly enough had dinner at Mazzoni again. (It's not that expensive, and the amount of food you get is well worth the price. UGH. SO. GOOD.)

^The restaurant!
Sunday after dinner I was feeling particularily homesick and our internet was down so I couldn't talk to anyone from home. Needless to say, I had a pretty blue evening which resulted in me spending some time out on the balcony and then going to bed early.

This week is a much lighter week! (Thank goodness!) We had voice this morning and after doing some warm-ups with a straw that helped us make sure our voice was supported by breath, I SANG A HIGH D - and it was only 9:45 am! I am an alto. I'm not quite sure how this happened, but I was very pleased :) Then we continued working on monologues from "The Tempest". After voice we had Italian and then Studio time. In Studio we are working on this huge collaborative project that we have due for Commedia a week from today. Michele gave us a very vague description of what he wanted, forcing us to use our imaginations. We have to come up with a structure, and then once we have the outline, we improvise the rest in class on Monday. It's hard, but it's coming along really well, and although at first our group dynamic was a bit wonky, I feel like we are getting better at communicating our ideas. What Michele told us was that we are on a ship going somewhere. That's it. We have to decide what kind of ship we are on, why we are on it, where we are going, who we are, the conflict, and the resolution. There are going to be a couple group scenes with all of us, and then a bunch of 2/3 person scenes as well - and he wants us to take some of the ideas that we initially presented in our dream/travel improvisations. Also - all of it is in mask and he wants very little speaking - and the speaking that we are doing will be mostly in Grammelot (gibberish) yet it all has to be clear. PHEW. A lot to swallow, right? So far, we are doing really well though :) I'm impressed by how well we are managing to collaborate.

We ended class at four today and then Kadie and I went for a run and worked on this movement/acrobatic sequence that we have due tomorrow morning for Claudia's class.
The rest of the night = music listening, homework, ITALIAN ('s getting HARDER AND HARDER), skyping, and sleeping.

Buona Notte! :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nights with Nutella


Mmm. Nutella and Apples. So good. Almost as good as nutella and Bananas.

Movement this morning = Contact Improv. Kadie and I were partners. She would lay on her stomach, on her side, and then sit up and in each position I would play around with putting weight on her using different body parts (my hand, forearms, head, stomach, back, feet, etc). This developed into contact improv with each other and then contact improv with the entire class. (Contact Improv is exactly what it sounds like: it's basically just improvised movement where you put different amounts of weight on eachother utilizing balance, rolls, and lifts.) It's all about trust, strength, and comfort. It's super easy working with Kadie; one because we're roomies and two because she used to be a gymnast. We also did a personal space exercise where one person would stand and the other person would walk until they "felt that person's bubble". There really is an "aura" around people - and if you walk slow enough it becomes really easy to feel. It was interesting to see how people related to me, and how I related to others. Aside from all the obvious movement/acrobatic things I am learning in this class, I think first and foremost I am learning patience; for myself and for other people. Doing contact improv, it's easy to "want to do all these cool tricks and go fast" but it doesn't work out well if you do that. If you take the time and really explore the ways in which your body is connecting with your partner(s) it makes all the difference in the world.

In voice we did an exercise where we had to touch fingers with another person and speak "Tempest" text to them - changing levels, moving in slow motion/fast motion and changing the tempo, volume, and pitch of the text. Hard to explain - but it was amazing. I was partnered with Sam, and even though we were both speaking the same text at the same time, because we were really listening to eachother, the ways in which we said the text bounced off each other naturally and thus tactics arose. Pretty cool.

For the rest of the day I had Italian and Philosophy.

Cabaret was tonight. We had to show what we've been doing in class, so all the theatre students did a group piece, followed by all the dancers and all the MFA-ers.
Woo hoo.

The best part about tonight is...I don't have class tomorrow until 11 so I get to SLEEP IN. Tomorrow is a super easy day. Thank goodness.

<3 love love love

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Postcards from Italy

Song of the Day

Ciao Ciao Ciao -

Monday and Tuesday I had Commedia. We had to take a mask and build a character with it - starting neutrally and then seeing where our impulses took us. As I was standing neutrally, I accidentally licked my lips (because my lips were chapped) and Michele shouted, "Go with it! Go with it!" I got so frustrated because my body was telling me to do other things, but he wanted me to play with my "happy accident". It's weird how trapped the masks can make you feel sometimes. So I went with the lip/mouth thing and after I took the mask off I ended up getting all emotional (AGAIN). He asked me what was wrong and I explained to him that the "lip" thing wasn't my impulse and he said, "Yeah, but you cannot go back once you start something". Then I got even more mad at myself, because my original impulse wasn't an impulse at all... it was something that I had thought about. Why wasn't I letting myself play? I came down to the conclusion that I was frustrated because I felt like I let myself down; I could have done this better, I could have done more.. *judgment judgment judgment*. Why do I feel the need to impress people here? Blai. I judge myself way too much. So I sat down and got ready to watch the next two people that were going up and Michele leaned over and said, "You are doing good work. I am helping you." To which I replied, "I know you are helping. This is what I need. I appreciate you so much, you have no's just hard. I want this." and he said, "I know you do. That's apparent. So let me break you." Well, breaking me he is.
We then had to take that character and re-do the dream/travel sequence that we did before, with THIS character in place and in Grammelot. The easiest way for me to define Grammelot to you is "gibberish". It's used a lot in Commedia work - and when done successfully it's incredible. So crazy how much you can understand even when people are speaking nonsense. I'm so thankful for this class - and for Michele. Apparently he's playing "Hamlet" in Milan in March - - I need to find time to go see this!! Italian Shakespeare!! Can you imagine?

For the rest of Tuesday after Commedia I had Italian and Philosophy. I had to give a big presentation on Aristotle. Phew - that man. He has a lot of extremely relevant and important points, however the way that he defines and classifies everything drives me nuts. Maybe it's because we just got done reading Plato. (I prefer him).

Today (Wednesday) I had movement, voice, Italian, and studio.
Movement we did yoga and acrobatics. We are learning how to do this crazy headstand - there is no tripod for it, it's just in your hands. (*eek!) Also, we were walking on all fours backwards into the wall and then climbing up the wall backwards into a handstand - sounds crazier than it actually is. Claudia makes everything look so easy.... granted she went to circus school, but still. In Voice we are still working on breathing and singing, but we are also playing with Shakespeare texts. First up: Caliban from "The Tempest". (For you GRSF folk - all I can think about is Chris Gerson. I think I need some proper shoulder blades for this class...)

Outside of class I've just been doing homework and writing. I'm so exhausted all the time here. This week it has been especially hard to wake up in the morning - and on top of being tired I'm also sort of blue. Sometimes this place can be very suffocating (not Italy...but the villa). We legitmately have no time to leave this big yellow mansion throughout the week because of class, so traveling/going into town on the weekends is a blessing. I am already looking forward to Friday. The only thing that keeps me even remotely sane in this building are the windows. Every once in a while, during class, I will find a time to glance out the window and after doing so I am happily reminded of where I am.

I'll leave you with this. (Scott told this to us in Philosophy the other day)'s pretty good.

European Definition of Heaven and Hell:
Heaven: English = Police
French = cooks
Germans = Mechanics
Swiss = organize everything
Italians = lovers

Hell: English = cooks
French = mechanics
Germans = police
Swiss = lovers
Italians = organize everything


<3 Buona Notte

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Carnevale di Venezia

Ciao Amici!

CARNEVALE! What a weekend.
Friday it was snowing like mad here in Arezzo; biggest snowflakes I've seen in quite a while. After class, we walked into town and bought our train tickets - 28 Euro for the trip to Venezia (each way). Afterwards we got HUGE pieces of Pizza so that we wouldn't be hungry on the train, followed by Gelato. SERIOUSLY. Crowds in gelato shops even in the snow? That's what I'm talkin' about. Perfect.

The train ride to Venice wasn't too bad. The train is broken up into several different cartes(like Harry Potter). Kadie, Sam and I were in one along with Steve - some dude from Australia, Franceso - an Italian who goes to school in Perugia, and some other guy who didn't really talk to us. The ride there was about 4 hours. We left right before five and got there right before nine at night.
When we first arrived, we walked to our hotel (perfect location...only a five minute walk from the train). There were seven of us - Kadie, Alex, Emily, and I stayed in one room and then Sam, Morgan, and Elaina stayed in another. Kadie and I were cuddle buddies :) We decided to just get a cheap hotel rather than a hostel because they were basically the same price.
We had to take a 10 minute shuttle to Venice.
Venice is by far the most magical, romantic, beautiful city in the world. I'm convinced that it will remain my favorite part of Italy. It's a little dissapointing only in that it is SO overrun by tourists...but if you ignore that fact and just take it for it's true beauty, then all is well in the world. It's insane. We got there late, so by that point the party had been dying down. We were all starving(craving cheesburgers, oddly enough; my first American craving in Italy) so we found this little cafe and all ordered cheeseburgers. They were DELICIOUS. Afterwards, we scoured the city for an open mask shop and found one. I bought a cheap one (14 Euro) but they had some that were over a hundred. After seeing how insane people dressed up, I wish I would have had a better costume but having a mask was exciting enough. Some of the girls wanted to go to a bar, but Sam, Morgan, and I wanted to keep exploring Venice so we walked around for a while. Seeing the city at night was beautiful, but because people had been partying all day there were a lot of drunkies stumbling around and we wanted to be able to wake up early and explore the next day, so we met up with everyone else, called it a night, and went back to the hotel to sleep.
We awoke the next morning to the most beautiful weather! For all the snow that was in Arezzo, there was not a flake of it in Venice. It was sunny and probably in the late 40's weather wise. Gorgeous.

The city was absolutely PACKED with people. We were like sardines - sometimes not even moving in the streets because of how many people were around us. I don't even know if I can explain Carnevale in words - - - it's like Disney World/Halloween times One Hundred. People go all out.

yes. She has a bodyguard.

Bumblebee Choir

Confetti (Coriandoli) covers the streets. All of a sudden you feel something on your head, and you look up and it's raining coriandoli! At one point I started a giant chant in the street. I went: OoooOOOoo and then a whole crowd of people copied me going OoooOOOoo! That's the type of stuff that happens. It's pure madness. There was a giant Balloon caterpillar type thing going down the streets, and underneath all the balloons was a drumline (you couldn't even see the drummers, just the balloons). There are a million mask shops, a million blown glass shops, stands in the street filled with chocolate and candy, street musicians all over the place, costume contests, etc. etc. etc. Surprise around every corner is really the way to sum it up. There is no telling WHAT will happen - - and everything you can think of is there. The age range is huge. There are little kids dressed up, grandparents dressed up, and as you can see from my pictures even animals dressed up too. It's a BLAST.

Alex, Me, Emily, Kadie

Alex and I

Pink Bottles = Bellini. Peach Champagne that orginated in Venice and remains the signature drink of the city.

In Venice, especially during Carnivale, the things to see are Venice itself and the people. We walked all around the city, making sure to see Piazza San Marco at Sunset.

By far my favorite day here. We stayed in Venice, dancing and singing throughout the streets, until midnight and hopped on the train back to Arezzo. Because we only had one day there, we wanted to spend as much time in the city as possible. However, we didn't think about how riding the train at night is definitely not the best time to ride the train...particularily during Carnivale. We took one 15 minute train from Carnivale to the main Venice station and then we took a second 4 1/2 hour train home to Arezzo. At first there was some strange dude sleeping in the car that we had seats for, but we managed to kick him out with the help of this really nice Italian dude (who also helped us transfer trains). Kadie, Alex, Emily and I were in a car together, along with an Italian woman and her nine year old son. We managed to sleep for a little bit, and then we got into Arezzo at 5 in the morning. It was FREEZING. A little bit of snow left on the ground, but not as much as the other day. We grabbed a taxi and got back to the Villa at around 5:20 safe and sound. Thank God.

Kadie and I in the train station

Kadie and I wanted to take showers right when we got back (especially after Carnevale and two trains) but there was no heat and no hot water in the villa.
We went to bed and woke up around noon today - still no heat and no hot water!
Happy Valentines Day :)
Grocery Store. Homework. Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate.
It is now 8:35 pm and we just got hot water. HOORAY!

So that was my weekend. The rest of tonight I'll just be showering and then doing homework for tomorrow. Another busy week ahead...

I love and miss you all! Hope you have a very Happy Valentine's Day!

Alex, Kadie, Emily, Me, Sam

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Firenze x2

Sorry - as I said, blogspot wouldn't let me put all the pictures I wanted in one here are some additional ones! :)

Florence in the AM. Chocolate Pastries.

Not going to lie, I'm pretty proud of this picture. The Duomo of Florence - BEAUTIFUL. The sky behind it isn't so bad either. :)

This dude was cool - whoever he was.

The Arno.

Alright, that's all for now :)