TROY students, faculty returning to Italy for art festival

Troy University students pose with the mayor of Pietrasanta, Italy, during the 2017 DAP Festival. The 2018 festival begins June 17.

Troy University students pose with the mayor of Pietrasanta, Italy, during the 2017 DAP Festival. The 2018 festival begins June 17.

A group of Troy University students and faculty members will soon depart for Italy to hone their crafts among an international audience.

The group, which includes theatre, dance and music students and faculty, will participate in the second annual Danza in Arte a Pietrasanta (DAP) Festival in Pietrasanta, Italy, which takes place June 17-30.

The DAP Festival is a unique international festival that combines dance and music with visual arts, and TROY students participated in the inaugural event last year.

“This festival is becoming part of our culture,” said Tori Lee Averett, chair of the TROY Department of Theatre and Dance. “We’re excited to have three different groups of students — music, theatre and dance. It’s growing, and we’ve done a great job of being collaborative in the development of it. We’re all working together to make it happen.”

The success of last year’s trip led to TROY’s festival role expanding.

“First of all, we know that study abroad experiences are good for students, but what was exceptionally successful about this particular program was the students participating in intensive study for two weeks on an international scale,” Averett said. “They got to work with a variety of international teaching artists. They learned new things every day, so their capacity and ability to absorb different types of instruction expanded.”

During the college portion of the festival, national and international students participate in master classes with a diverse group of renowned teaching artists.

Dance students on last year’s trip auditioned for roles in various works and even presented their own original material at the festival.

“It was a concentrated, authentic art-making collaborative experience,” Averett said.

This year’s traveling group includes 10 dance, 11 theatre and five music students, double the total number of students who attended a year ago.

“Dance will continue very much the same way, and theatre students will work with guest artists, studying the classic form of commedia dell’arte under a master,” Averett said. “They get to work in musical theatre on a new version of ‘Peter Pan,’ a rock musical being developed in London. Our music students are working with some exquisite musicians from Europe.”

For the first time, guitar students from the John M. Long School of Music will participate in the festival.

In addition to the 26 students, TROY First Lady Janice Hawkins, Coordinator of Dance Deborah Hicks, and faculty members Tommy Newman, Dominique Angel and Dr. Robert Gibson will head to Pietrasanta for the festival.

While the DAP Festival exposes students to unique lessons in their respective fields of study, it’s also a rewarding cultural journey.

“It’s an extraordinary experience for these young people, many of whom haven’t left the country or even the region,” Averett said. “It is providing a life-changing experience for our students, and many people are helping make that possible, including Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr., and Mrs. Hawkins.”

TROY’s relationship with the DAP Festival began thanks to the festival’s artistic director, Adria Feralli, who served as an adjunct dance professor at the Troy Campus in 2016.

After watching the department’s fall student choreography showcase that November, she invited the student choreographers to showcase their work at the festival.

On June 27, the TROY students will get the spotlight at this year’s festival.

“It will be an evening of Troy University, so our students here are preparing dance pieces, musical theatre pieces, guitar pieces and collaborative pieces that feature the full company of students working together,” Averett said. “We’re going to get to put our students on display with their original works and some well-known works. This is an incredible opportunity.”

TROY intends to return to the DAP Festival next year.

To support future trips, click here and donate to the Travel Study in Dance fund.