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Course Descriptions

Core Courses

Commedia dell'Arte: Acting I

TART i15: 3 credit hours

Acting and Dramaturgy

Instructor: Giangiacomo Colli

From the sixteenth to the late eighteenth century the itinerant players of the Commedia dell’Arte developed a style of acting and performance that was to have a tremendous impact on the development of the European theatre. In the twentieth century this style was rediscovered and once again influenced such movements as the expressionist theatre, theatre of the absurd, and the futurists’ experiments, as well as individual artists such as Meyerhold, Gordon Craig, Samuel Beckett, Lecoq, Ariane Mnouchkine and many others.

A study of the techniques rooted in Commedia dell’Arte provides modern actors with a vastly expanded artistic repertoire from which to develop a personal style. Through work on gesture, voice, and movement, this acting class will explore the features of Arlecchino, Brighella, Pantalone, Capitano, Colombina and other masked and unmasked Commedia dell’Arte stock characters, with the intention of developing the student’s own personal version of the character.

The class format will be based on intensive studio work. Students will practice the use of half-face masks, will learn traditional lazzi (stunts, gags and pranks), and will work on improvisational techniques. Scene study in the form of short scenes or more complex canovacci (scenarios) that the students will learn to write, will be a regular component, as well as historical lectures and discussion. The course will culminate in a working demonstration.

As part of the Commedia dell’Arte course, students will participate in a week-long Leather Mask-Making workshop with Andrea Cavarra, as well as Voice in the Mask coachings with Dory Sibley.

Leather Mask-Making

Instructor: Andrea Cavara

In addition to the intensive commedia dell’arte studio component, this course will include a mask-making workshop. Students will sculpt a clay version of one of the stock Commedia masks, making a mould from this that serves as a “negative” for the fabrication of a mask in leather. The student then completes the mask through applying layers of finishing coating and finally paints and highlights its dramatic potential. The students may have the opportunity to use their masks during their commedia acting intensive.

Voice in the Mask

Instructor: Dory Rebekah Sibley

In this workshop students will discover unlikely characters in a surprising way, through the resonance of the mask.  Using vocal resonance within mask work can unlock potential characters and help artists make strong choices. Students will use half and full masks to explore sound and breath. This technique builds unique, informed characters with layered voices supported through a resonant mask and an open body. The creative process works with elements built within the Voice and Ensemble Performance course to align the vocal and physical actor.

Extended Performance Topics: Movement and Body Work

TART i35: 3 credit hours

Instructor: Nhandan Chirco

Designed as an introduction to the methods and aims of Physical Theatre, this course provides movement and acting options that reflect the inter-disciplinary thrust of the program. It is divided in Body Work – with focus on physical training – and Creative Work – that aims to provide tools and principles to develop individual and collective performances in the field of physical theatre.

Physical training also serves to prepare students for the intensive needs of commedia and mask work.

Currently Extended Performance Topics combines: Movement and Body Work course with warm-up and conditioning four times a week.

The course focuses on development of the performer’s movement and body-awareness, preparing students for physically demanding stage performance. The Body Work consists principally of physical training specifically designed for movement based theatre practitioners, which helps to form both a more spontaneous and a more articulated body. In addition to that, the training approaches some of the key issues of acting technique. The significance of the Movement Work is related not only to challenging physical training, comprised of a specific in-movement-approach to the performer’s creative potential, but also to providing students with some methodologies for improvising and structuring their own performance materials. Textual materials, such as poetry and prose, are used as an offspring for devising solo and group performances, as different processes are provided as an impulse to create individual devised fragments in which they can express their artistic specificity and personal interests in the approach to performance. The course provides precise practical knowledge which enables students to articulate through body/movement both individual and collective creative processes in a well-crafted and competent way. The aim being the (re)discovery of the body as a principal tool for the creation of a personal artistic language in performance. The proposed methodology is based on physical training developed by Grotowski and Richards, on technical elements stemming from contact improvisation, Butoh dance, Yoga and martial arts, and on various techniques of improvisation and movement composition from contemporary dance.

Voice and Ensemble Performance

TART i20: 3 credit hours

Instructor: Dory Rebekah Sibley

The Voice and Ensemble Performance course will focus on bridging the voice, movement and masked voice using Fitzmaurice Voicework® as well as techniques from various other fields including Roy Hart Experimental Voice and the Vocal Body. These techniques allow the performer to maintain the integrity of vocal production while speaking and singing in extreme or unconventional situations: as a masked actor or acrobat for example. Weight sharing, kinesthetic response, body mapping and emotional engagement will be utilized in order to free the whole voice. Students will be guided through practical exercises and warm-ups tailored specifically for the physical actor. These exercises are employed to find unlikely characters and unleash a three-dimensional sound to uphold the rigorous demands of masked physicality. Students will develop greater range, flexibility, sustaining power and emotional presence through concentrating on ‘sound for storytelling’ and systematically challenging their boundaries in terms of pitch and quality.

Overall, this course investigates text and song in order to free the imagination and create unique, informed choices in the vocal body. The work centers around ensemble building and performance and will end in a final showing of the creative materials.

Philosophy of Art and Performance

PHIL i20: 3 credit hours

Instructor: Emilija Dimitrijevic

The many paradoxes of the modern world, perhaps first clearly articulated by Rousseau, continue to provide a backdrop to all of our social activity: greater personal freedoms encased in a world of greater social regimentation, increased diversity of choice amidst an inexorable drive toward homogenization, increasing production of wealth along with the dramatic growth of poverty, vastly expanded communications providing the tools to increased isolation and so on.

These paradoxes often go unnoticed as they appear a natural part of life, but these phenomena had an historical development that in turn profoundly affected individual perception. Through an exploration of the development of mass production, the fragmentation and specialization of life and work, the development of the information age, the commodification of culture, the compression of time and space, the disassociation of the body and the aesthetic shifts that have accompanied these developments, this class will philosophically analyze the significance of each. We will think about art—about its nature and its important place in human life.

To facilitate this, the course brings together the writings of philosophers and the work of artists from a variety of domains. The goal is not to intellectualize art but to understand the intelligence that goes into it, to enrich our experiences of art, and to foster our own creative sensibilities. We will consider famous writings on art by thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Schiller, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Breton, Artaud, Eisenstein, Debord, Baudrillard, Foucault and others in relation to important works of literature, theatre, painting, music, architecture and film.

A philosophical analysis with help the artist situate both the work of art and the actual work of the artist in a broader framework where the role of social mediation between the artist, the work of art and the reception of the work is revealed. Likewise, the potential role of the artist and work of art as social mediation can emerge as a stimulus to the creative impulse itself.

The class format will be based on lectures and seminar-style discussions where each student will present a critical summary of at least one of the readings. A portion of the class, when possible, will include a critical examination of the student’s own experience in a particular workshop and may include Butoh dance, clown training for actors or other special workshops or master classes in which students participate.

Italian Language: Beginner or Intermediate

ITAL i10, i11: 3 credit hours

Instructor: Accademia Britannica

In the first semester course introduce students to basic grammatical structures of the Italian language. Students acquire a basic vocabulary and speaking practice.

In the second semester course, students begin moving toward fluency in Italian by focusing on communication and the exposure to a not stereotypical, more complex and up-to-date picture of modern Italy and Italians.

The readings in the text will provide a point of departure for conversation, which will be an essential component of both classes. These courses will cover aspects of Italian culture and society, as well.

Contemporary Performance Seminar

1 Credit

Instructor: Nhandan Chirco and Guest Lecturers

Theoretical Sessions

This short theoretical module aims to introduce artistic currents and relevant artists and companies active in the field of physical theatre, contemporary dance and performance art in the 1900s and to contextualize their work within the broader field of contemporary art. The module wish to challenge the idea of what theater and performance might consist in, providing a broaden view about work of inspiring artists in the previous century and in recent time and presenting the diversity of approaches and researches that flourished in this art field.

The opening conversation is based on the 20th Century Performance Reader (by Michael Huxley and Noel Witts) and addresses major shifts in conceiving what an art work might be, key passages and phenomena deeply effecting the art field in last century – as the ready made by Duchamp, the contamination among visual art field and live performance practice, the happenings and the performance art created by visual artists, the conceptual art, the questioning of the borders among art and life, improvisation and experimental approach in contemporary dance and in music – mentioning artists and theoretician that played a major role in this shifts.

This introduction is followed by presentations about single theater artists and authors, developed by students in working teams, utilizing the 20th Century Performance Reader as a main tool.

The students will be introduced to the new library available in the Accademia for further studies and personal researches to integrate their knowledge about contemporary theatre and performance, stimulating them to think about theater in the prospective of an artists-author. Screenings The sessions are completed by four performance screenings to give a direct insight about aesthetics and approaches in contemporary theatre and dance, followed by brief discussion.


The module integrates lectures and workshops by guest artists, scholars and ADA faculty addressing contemporary performance trends, relationship between art and society, relation among theory and practice, specific artistic approaches. Lectures are involving students and faculty of all ADA programs (MFA, Undergraduate) becoming an occasion for all ADA community to gather and share an academic experience.

The seminar featured lectures by PhD: Scott McGehee, Leonidas Martin, Branko Popovic, Marco Baravalle, Tomi Janezic, Sabine Fichter, Kevin Crawford, Janez Jansa, Nikolai Jeffs, Fabio Mangolini. The upcoming semester includes lectures by Scott McGeheeJanez Jansa, Tatjana Macic and Domenico Pietropaolo.

RHIZOME: Theory, artistic practice and urgency: Workhshop and Lecture Series with Tatjana Macic  


In this workshop students will learn how to use the theory of rhizome for their creative process. Informed by her lecture and a concept of rhizome by Deleuze and Guattari, students will be guided to effectively search for, articulate and reflect upon their own artistic urgency, themes and concepts they find important. Based on that urgency students will subsequently create an individual short experimental (rhizomatic) performance. They will learn how to use and activate their bodies, minds, voice and space in a rhizomatic way. In this performance participants will combine at least 3 components in order to create a rhizomatic, non-binary, performative piece. Such as autobiographical narratives, current political affairs, their bodies, ideas and space. This process leads to surprising results and self-awareness. It is geared toward better understanding of theory and artistic context.


During the Ljubljana Study Tour ADA students and faculty will attend two selected performances in the field of contemporary theater, dance and experimental music, followed by a meeting with the artists in which students will have the opportunity to pose question and talk about the work they have seen directly with the authors.

In Fall Semester 2016: performance “On the right track” by Via Negativa – Bojan Jablanovac and “Concert” by Tomaz Grom.

In Spring Semester 2017: the contemporary dance & theory performance “Falcon” by Janez Jansa and Iztok Kovac and “Concert” by Tomaz Grom.

Laban Movement Studies/ Improvisation/ Movement Composition

Instructor: Sabine Fichter

In this course students will be introduced to Rudolf Laban’s ideas, particularly his theories of Choreutics (use of space) and Eukinetics (use of dynamics). Within the framework of the Laban principles guided exploration and improvisation will deepen the understanding of movement concepts and will enable students to generate genuine movement material. Compositional exercises will enhance their ability to reflect on choreographic processes and they will investigate the use of compositional strategies. The course provides students with an opportunity to develop more refined insight into the relationship between Laban themes such as Space, Effort, Shape and Body and choreographic content.

Guest Workshops and Intensives

Principles in Acting

Fall and Spring Semesters

Instructor: Tomi Janezic

This workshop explores basic acting principles in different acting systems which are sometimes understood as oppositions – focusing on examples from Strasberg’s and Chekhov’s acting methods – introducing the application of acting techniques to the creative process: creative use of role theory, active/creative analysis for exploring the life of a character, relationships, situations, events, given circumstances etc.  The work addresses group dynamics and facilitates the process of ensemble-making, proposing tools to overcome personal and relational barriers and resistances when confronted with creative tasks.

Contact Improvisation

Fall and Spring Semesters

Instructor: Iztok Kovač and EnKnapGroup

The intention of the workshop is to introduce some of En-Knap’s movement specifics and for every participant to establish her/his own relation to it. We will be dealing with terms such as: bubble (attention of the focus), home (safe, peaceful sensation of the gravity center of the body), separation (upper/lower part of the body in tourning/jumping/falling), staccato (sharp reaction on start and stop – suspensions)… We will work individually, with partner and face some group exercises as well. We will also meet some compositional principles and devices based on the use of chance that we developed over 20 years ago. “Since my movement origin lies basically in sports, my work is a lot about the communication: “How do the people interact?” I wish to create an atmosphere where every individual depends on collective, while only her/his technical and creative input results as a group quality. Within the group everyone has enough space and my support to define and develop its own presence and spontaneity/freedom and share it with others after the rules and collective alertness is mastered.”


Spring Semester

Instructor: Mitsuru Sasaki

Butoh was born in Japan in the sixties and derived from traditional Japanese dance and performance forms. Butoh encourages the occidental dancer to look beyond traditional assumptions about time and space in order to reach out to new ground in terms of performance.

Voice Improvisation

Fall Semester

Instructor: Sašo Vollmaier

Sašo Vollmaier will enhance the Voice and Ensemble Performance course with a focus on improvisation. Students will explore their relationship with sound and music in a profound way. First he will introduce the musical language through simple phrases and memorized songs that then can be used in various exercises that utilize movement, voice and music to connect and build the ensemble process. With the support of Sašo on piano, they will begin to create simple conversations that create a musical atmosphere. Finally, students will be guided through musical and textual improvisations that will be developed and shaped in collaboration with both Sašo and Dory.

Art and Activism

Fall Semester

Instructor: Leónidas Martin

A visual tour of some of the most creative art/activist interventions performed by Leónidas Martin and his group Enmedio in the context of contemporary urban struggles in Spain and beyond. Leo explores the relationship between art and activism, how creativity can be a powerful tool for social transformation, how we can have fun while fighting back, and why direct action is one of the fine arts.


Fall Semester

Instructor: Jonathan Bianchi

Capoeira workshops involve intensive movement work, acrobatics, singing and rhythm, interaction with partners, strong work ethic and community spirit. This makes it a particularly appropriate training for theatre practitioners. Born in Brazil and grounded in the context of the enslaved black and indigenous people, this work is connected to their fight for identity. The history of capoeira is rooted in political issues and the relationship between artistic practice and social context.


Spring Semester

Instructor: Samuel McGehee

This workshop teaches the fundaments of juggling in order to engage the actor with his or her space on the stage.

This will also give you the chance to learn a discipline that stems from the ancients civilizations to the troubadours, evolving into modern theatre and circus with personages such as Francis Brunn, W.C. Fields and Chaplin.

Juggling is a skill that “doesn’t lie” and demands from the performer a heightened sensitivity to time, space and rhythm. In our meeting we will work with rhythm, movement, balance and awareness of space. We will play games with objects and focus, as well as get a chance to bring in some text and use our skills in a theatrical setting. This course will improve the actor’s control of his or her surroundings, and set into motion the body and mind.


Fall and Spring Semesters

Instructor: Gianni Bruschi

The Tarantella, in the south Italian tradition, can be subdivided into several dancing-musical forms: love dances, war dances, honour and expiation dances, and ritual dances. The very ancient origins of these dances date back to Dioniso’s cult, and the traditions of these dances reflect a cultural heritage of great human and artistic value.



Spring 2018: January 15 – April 20

Spring Break: March 3 – 11

16 total credit hours


Fall 2018: August 31 – December 5

Fall Break: October 13 – October 21

Application Deadline: April 1

16 total credit hours

APPLY NOW for this program


Spring 2019: January 21 – April 26

Spring Break: March 2 – 10

16 total credit hours

Early Bird Discount: Enroll by July 1 to save 5% off total tuition on our Spring semesters! (See Program Fees and Billing for more information)

APPLY NOW for this program.

Application Deadline: October 1


PLEASE NOTE: The dates above include arrival and departure. The Accademia dell’Arte does not accommodate students before or after these dates.

The Accademia dell’Arte undergraduate program is fully accredited by Hendrix College.


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