Loyola University Chicago


Department of Fine and Performing Arts


Loyola Dance Students Perform with Mandala Dance Company in Rome, Italy

Loyola Dance Students Perform with Mandala Dance Company in Rome, Italy

photo Vanessa D'Orazi

Following a year of online instruction, the John Felice Rome Center reopened its doors to study abroad programs for Fall 2021. Students in Loyola’s Dance Program were among those who jumped at the opportunity to extend their classroom and learning experience overseas. Dance faculty Dr. Amy Wilkinson has lead students in summer study abroad programs for several years, creating a long-standing relationship with the Mandala Dance Company in Ladispoli, Italy. This summer, Dr. Wilkinson and a group of Loyola dance students traveled to the John Felice Rome Center for an immersive learning experience.  

Final exams concluded in early May, but Loyola dancers were soon back in the studio to prepare for their study abroad trip. Dr. Amy Wilkinson, in collaboration with the dancers, choreographed Murmuration of Starlings, or Safety in Numbers to be performed in concert with the Mandala Dance Company. After a few weeks of rehearsals on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus in Chicago, Dr. Wilkinson and the dancers traveled to the John Felice Rome Center and began working with the company.

From nine to four each day, Loyola students took class and rehearsed with the Mandala Dance Company ensemble in preparation for the final performance at the Villa Torlonia Theater. “The Mandala Dance Company exemplified professionality, creativity, and rigor in their work,” remarked rising senior Miller Tennant. “Open communication and mutual respect are extremely important when collaborating in a creative space.” The contemporary movement of the Mandala Company is athletic, quick, and efficient with lots of floorwork, giving the Loyola students a challenge and plenty of learning opportunities. “I learned a lot about the importance of utilizing the floor while dancing and not taking its presence for granted,” reflected rising sophomore Zoe Holland. After a week of rehearsals, Loyola dancers performed Murmuration of Starlings, or Safety in Numbers and HH_Homo Humus, an excerpt from the Mandala Dance Company repertoire in collaboration with the company dancers.  

Loyola dancers made sure to balance the days of work with evenings of play in the city. Their trip highlights include group dinner at the beach in Ladispoli, a jump in the Mediterranean Sea, wine tasting, a tour the Vatican City and Sistine Chapel, and lots of gelato. From recent freshmen to graduated seniors, this group of Loyola dancers who traveled to Rome and performed with the Mandala Dance Company have many lessons to take forward. Rising sophomore Cayla Skuran reflects, “I have more respect for myself, an ability to be less intimidated by big challenges, and a bigger love for those around me.”