Department Head and Professor of Dance Janet Lilly traveled with fourteen UNCG dancers to Italy in late July. “Dancing in the Heart of Italy” was a a two week long study abroad opportunity, giving the students a chance to learn in residence at the Pieve International School located near the historical Medieval hill town of Corciano, in Umbria, often referred to as the “green heart of Italy.” Lilly said that, “surrounded by rolling hills, vineyards and olive trees, Villa Pieve is the perfect location for immersing students in the art and practice of dance.”

While in residence, the students had a unique opportunity to rehearse with New York City based choreographer Jacquelyn Buglisi. They performed with thirty five Italian student dancers in Buglisi’s collaboration with Italian visual artist Rosella Vasta, The Table of Silence. The performance took place on August 2nd at Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi and the Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Perugial. Shell called the chance to work with Buglisi, “…incredible. It made us step up as performers and rise to the challenge of the work.” Nolan described the experience, “Performing with another culture is interesting, especially when there are 14 of you and 50 of them. The rehearsals were mainly in Italian, so there were some confusing moments, but by the end of the week we were able to talk somewhat about the dance and ask each other questions.”

Dancers participated in contemporary dance technique, Iyengar yoga, Italian language, and Dance for Film classes. They also took day trips to nearby Assisi, Perugia (including the Perugina Chocolate Factory), Cortona, and Florence. BFA dancer Mary Beth Nolan said, “The view was always beautiful with fields of grapes or sunflowers. The cities were full of historical architecture that was just amazing.” MFA dance student recalled that, “…the Umbrian region is an agricultural region and every year the crop rotates. This year we were fortunate that the crop was sunflowers. We were surrounded by fields and fields of gold, moving with the sun. It was an incredible sight to see.”[slideshow_deploy id=’250′]