We started this program at GITIS because we knew that it would be something unlike any other theatre program in the world and that it would have an immeasurable impact on our students, on the university and on the foundation. Our program isn’t traditional. Our students don’t sit in class all day and read about theatre. They do theatre at Russia’s oldest and largest theatre school with some of the most celebrated Russian theatre professors. In the first full week we have been reminded of the importance of starting this program.
We have continued our Biomechanics and Russian classes from last week and our students are making great progress in both.
This week we have spent the afternoons taking a very unique acting/dance class with Oleg Glushkov. Glushkov has a background in classical dance and has brilliantly taken his background to bring something so unique and special to the actor. In his classes our students are focusing on using the strength, balance and control required of classical dance to move meaningfully on stage. They do this through a series of exercises ranging from contact improv to ballroom dancing. Glushkov has a way of presenting the importance of each principle in such an easy, relatable manner. He divides each two and a half hour class into three parts: partner work, choreography of the final performance, and physical training. This semester our students will be working with him for two weeks, but we have had such positive feedback that we hope to extend training with him into next semester.
And how did we spend our evenings? Well, at the theatre of course. There is an entire post on the theatre we saw this week that will follow soon!
We are only in the first days of the first semester of the American Course at GITIS, but I am sure that everyone would agree that the program is off to a very strong start.
Our students arrived in Moscow on Tuesday afternoon and were met at the airport by Elaina (IFTER’s Artistic Director) and GITIS Directing Ph.D. student, Vasya. Everyone went to GITIS first thing on Wednesday to tour the school, do all the necessary paper work and officially start our time as GITIS students. That evening we headed for the Moscow Art Theatre School to see a production of the third-year students’ wildly popular show “Это тоже Я” (This is also me). The show began as a class project during these students’ freshman year. They were asked to go out into the streets of Moscow and interview people asking them questions like What is your happiest memory? What is your biggest dream? What are your fears? What is your saddest memory? These interviews were then brought to life on stage in an extremely moving and powerful way.
Classes started on Thursday morning. The day began with our Biomechanics movement class. Conveniently, the class takes place in the classroom in the dorm building. Students can start the day with two and a half hours of movement and work in Biomechanics without having to worry about the morning commute. Maria leads the students in very active warm ups that get the body and mind to work together and then smoothly transitions into taking an in depth look at the principles of Biomechanics. There is plenty of time after class for a quick shower and lunch before making the hour commute to GITIS. We will soon be dedicating an entire post to our work in this class.
On both Thursday and Friday this week Movement class was followed by Russian class. Our students are all at different places with their study of the Russian Language, but luckily our Russian professor, Ina, has mastered the art of treating the classroom like a one room school house helping each student advance from where they are.
Thursday evening we went back to the Moscow Art Theatre School to see another student production. This one was a very modern revised interpretation of Gogol’s very famous “The Government Inspector.”The show was full of energy from the first moment to the final bow and really breathed new life into a classic. A story that we know so well suddenly became a new adventure.
Friday evening, after another full day of classes, our students saw the Butusov’s brand new “Good Person of Szeshwan” by Bertolt Brecht. Butusov is extremely famous in Russia and is a very celebrated director. The show is new and plays rarely. It is always sold out, but luckily we were able to get great seats for our students.
Saturday is reserved as a day for students to do work on their own. There are no formal class meetings. We still did go to the theatre though. This time we were able to see “Don Quixote”directed by Dmitry Krymov who will be leading our directing course next semester. This show was wildly popular with our students and was also sold out. After the show the students were introduced to Krymov before they start to work with him.
Our first week here was very successful. We are looking forward to next week as we get into the swing of things and the full course load. Stay tuned for updates on the work we are doing and the shows we are seeing!