Peter Adeney, USA, Age 36, date 07/2011
Being a student at Helikos is like jumping onto the wild horse of your own insanity and learning how to make it tap dance through every room in the magic castle of theatre history. Each week we are given new theatrical tools to play with and asked to create with them, the worlds of imagination and experience that lie latent in every part of our souls. Stop me if I’m being dramatic.. No don’t actually, this is fun. On the long ascent up the grand spire of my own subconscious I have tripped on many a stair.. ok do stop me this is ridiculous. Look, it’s a great school ok. Best damn teachers for life and theater that I’ve found in my 35 years of look’n (besides mom, but she doesn’t know what “Mimo-dynamic” means). You can’t do better. It rocks. Come play and we’ll have lots of fun and change the world with kick ass art.
Warning: Attend only if you are prepared to live fuller than you ever have. This school is not normal. It’s either totally mad or it’s brilliantly sane and everything else is. One thing is certain: To do this work is to be unabashedly, completely, deeply alive. Please feel free to contact me (Peter Adeney, aka Peter Sweet, real live student of Helikos) with further questions:
Freya Sturt, Norway, date 05/2011
I came to Helikos because I had previously studied in clown workshops with Giovanni when my clown Margaret was born, which was a mega event for me. I had done some physical theatre training before and my brain was saying that I really couldn’t go and commit to another training. Maybe I should grow up properly and do something responsible, it said to me. Then suddenly something shifted, it was just when the deadline for application for the school was dangerously close, a voice inside me said: ‘You can do it’. This was an amazing thought, ‘I can do it!’ and then I realized that this is was actually what I wanted to do more than anything else, but for some reason I had thought that it was impossible. So I very, very quickly wrote out my application and applied sending it just before midnight...…
Helikos student creators come from all corners of this world and have varied in age from 24 to over 70. From surfers to writers and directors, from environmental activists and scientists to clowns, the thing they all have in common is the poetic urge to create theatre and a training that has its roots rigorous fun.
Below you will find some of their testimonies about their experience at Helikos.
Vika Dahlberg, Denmark, date 05/2011
I did not know much about physical theatre before coming to Helikos. But the school has completely changed the way I look at theatre, at art and in fact at the whole world! The unique pedagogy of Helikos
Nicole Quenelle, USA, date 06/13/2011
"Rigorous fun!" This is one of Giovanni's mantras, probably my favorite. He would say it before our small groups presented new work to the faculty and other students every Friday. That's what I love about the pedagogy of this school. We are working for a high level of technical skill and at least the same level of play in everything we do. And that is really clear in everything from movement to improv to voice work. All of the faculty on staff and the amazing guest teachers have a very keen sense of when they need to be relentless in pushing us toward technical excellence and at the same time how to unlock the many doors to our imaginations that will ignite the sense of play and authenticity and high energy that we're striving for to create theater. I am continually impressed with how they manage to strike a balance between these two very important elements--and how they can sense what we need as an entire group as well as finding the optimal ways to provoke us as individual performers at different stages of our own artistic processes. It's pretty badass. It's also quite different from what I expected. I expected the training to be rigorous, but the rigor came in ways that were surprising to me. It wasn't just physical rigor or the exhaustion that comes at the end of a week of pure technical training of the body. It's also the surprising complexity of going through your personal process to serve the group process, of exercising the adaptation muscle to adjust and shift to new group dynamics each week, to keep working at how to work through your own inevitable stories and emotions and channel them into what the collaborative process is calling for, often toward other stories and possibilities beyond our own experience. The answers also don't come easily, they are not handed to us, and so often the training flies at us in maddening and exhilarating contradictions. But I think in these ways we are being asked to wrestle with the tools we are being given and to find how we want to use them to create our own work--both as individual performers and theater creators as well as members of the ensembles we work with or create.
Casey James Mulderig, Age 29, Former Competitive and Soul Surfer, Arcata, California, USA, date 3/2013
Helikos has changed me, myself, my poetic visions, my body and I. I imagine I will go on from this awesome training with many swell and vast findings. However the foremost will be the steady rooting belief in the abundance of rich artistic material that is out there and in us when we create art from the rigorous, fun and playful techniques that are taught here at Helikos. My once scattered confidence has been gradually solidifying and combining with my life experience here at Helikos and now, I am really ready to make art.
Irene, Venice, Italy, Age 26, date 3/2013
These two years have been amazing at Helikos. In addition to the poetry of the movement, I have rediscovered myself. The trip of rediscovery is always important, in my opinion, everyone should go through it in order to open one's mind and readjust the world ... and to never stop the search. Helikos increases the curiosity from the most banal to the more abstract and therefore enables us to observe without judgment, recognize things and know them in depth.
In life, we often lose these qualities or perhaps we forget them in fear of being over sensitive and vulnerable or we are afraid of being judged or maybe it is because curiosity is considered unproductive in modern society where everything is a race and stopping to observe and capture the essence of an act and of the movement of that act can lead to emotions that we are not ready to receive. Before starting the course I felt that I was gradually dying, not because I was not happy but because of my day to day habits. Stability lead me over time to sit down and the discovery of new things became difficult. Laziness increased every passing day. The reason why I decided, with many hardships, study at Helikos was that I didn't want to live my life and realize too late that I had not lived it 100% and not be satisfied with what I had. I can say that now I that I am.
The teachers are geniuses and have a quality that usually is not found in most of the "teachers" (at least here in Italy). They offer 360 degrees, because each one of them has their own way to get to express a concept or a state and knows how to open certain doors that lead to sensitivity and thus the poetry of each student. It feels safe but independent and free to create new worlds and languages. Another important aspect of Helikos is the different cultures in the school. Classmates who come from all over the world who bring their own tradition and life experiences which I now share with me. We're a family for a lifetime because we touch and discover our fears, our strengths and weakness each and every day and it is a new discovery for everyone.
Anja Završnik / Anja Bezlova, Ljubljana, Slovenia, date 4/2013
The school did not gave me just the knowledge to create and perform at my best, but it gave me also the language to understand other arts such as paintings' true movement of colors and shapes, poems' true movement of words, music's true movement of sounds. Every week gives you a new challenge. It starts on Monday and by the end of the week you have done a new creation piece with a group of people. So during the week you need to understand the group dynamic, get as many clues how to do the provocation in the classes and create something worth seeing. On Friday you get a feedback on your performance. For me this is the most important part of the work. I did not feel that way at the beginning of the school. Every class was hard for me. I had problems to give enough to the creation process in the group. But because the school encourages to talk in the group about the process I learned so much about my work dynamic. That helped me to be more relaxed in classes and do the best I can at the time and the time is now.
Zhenya Topov, Russia - New Zealand, date 07/2011
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came to Helikos. The main reason I chose the school is because of my interest in the Tao. Theatre is something that has always been a part of my life, but truth be told, I was getting a bit disenchanted with the shows I had been involved in and have been seeing around me. What was missing? Having met Giovanni in New Zealand I got a breath of fresh air and packed for Florence knowing that many questions will be answered and many more raised.
It has been a 6 months intensive. All the teachers are masters of their craft and you are asked to step up your game all day every day while you bring nothing but your best. This is by far the most challenging thing I have done in my life. To discover yourself repeatedly in the play; to experience your patterns, strengths and blocks; to reconnect to the emotional life and the physical space; to build up core strength and awareness, are all of great necessity for an artist. These are all great tools not only for being a theatre artist but also for being an uplifted human being.
Roberto Pombo, Johannesburg, South Africa, date 4/2013
It is difficult to put into words what the Helikos school has done for me. It has been a life-changing journey. As an artist and creator I have grown in leaps and bounds. As an individual I have grown the same amount if not more. It is hard for me to think about myself prior to coming Helikos. My entire way of thinking has shifted. I now think as an artist and as a poet. The world a constant source of inspiration for me. Before attending the school, I thought it would be relatively easy for me as I had studied movement in university in South Africa, but I was largely mistaken. The classes are challenging on various levels. Whether it is Improvisation, Movement, Acrogioco, Voice or Martial Arts, there is no doubt that you will be challenged and you will learn something. My two favorite things about Helikos are The Staff and "Rigorous Fun." The Staff - It is amazing and a real honor to be taught daily by true masters. I am inspired and challenged by my teachers every day. The staff at Helikos have truly impacted and shaped my future as an artist, poet, creator and individual. And for that I am truly grateful. The course outline is also phenomenal and they teach it really well! "Rigorous Play" is name of the game. Helikos has taught me what it truly means to play. I forgot how to play when I grew up, and Helikos taught me how to do it again. I love this place so much :)
has made me develop in ways I did not think possible, especially because I have been taught by teachers who are true masters. I feel that I have jumped in an ocean of creativity, and that an entirely new world of theatre is now open.