Four Dancers from The Mississippi School of the Arts (MSA), were awarded scholarships to train and perform at the Fini International Italian Dance Festival in Villapiana Lido, Italy this summer. Carolina Cassisa of Oxford, Aaron Lochmann of Madison, Kate Smith of Brookhaven, and recent MSA graduate Rain Walley of Lauderdale. MSA dance founder and instructor, Tammy Stanford and her award winning choreographic work “Footfalls Echo” was selected to be performed at the prestigious festival. Students from all over the world trained with teachers from the United States and Europe. There were only seven American students, the four from MSA and three from North Carolina. This year marked the 12th anniversary of the festival which culminated with performances at a Gala Concert event at the Altomonte Amphitheater.

When asked about the experience and its meaning for the MSA dance students, Stanford replied, “This experience allowed my dancers to value hard work and realize their artistic integrity paid off and prepared them for a great and unexpected adventure. The dancers gained deep and meaningful insights into the rigorous and professional world of dance. They were able to visit ancient sites, develop community with a different culture, overcome language barriers, create friendships and relationships with fellow artists, perform in historic mountain villages, and share conversations with gracious and generous dance masters. Their lives have been changed.”

The festival was created by Antonio Fini, dancer and choreographer and Director of Fini Dance, New York. MSA dancers had the opportunity to work with Fini and audition to be a part of the international festival when Fini came to teach classes at MSA this past Spring as part of MSA’s Artist Residency Program.

The Mississippi School of the Arts (MSA) is an eleventh and twelfth grade visual and performing arts residential, public high school located on the historic Whitworth College campus in Brookhaven, MS. Students not only meet and exceed the traditional Mississippi high school curriculum, they receive special instruction in visual arts, vocal music, dance, literary arts, filmmaking/media arts and theatre. Students interested in MSA apply in February of their sophomore year. In addition to MSA students consistently winning awards for their work on the state, regional and national levels, the school holds the #2 highest ACT average in the state.

For more information visit our website or call 601-823-1300.

Pictured from left, MSA dancers Kate Smith of Brookhaven, Carolina Cassisa of Oxford, Aaron Lochmann of Madison and Rain Walley of Lauderdale perform at the Altomonte Amphitheater in Italy this Summer.

Pictured from left, MSA dancers Aaron Lochmann of Madison, Rain Walley of Lauderdale, Kate Smith of Brookhaven and Carolina Cassisa of Oxford perform under the night sky in Italy this Summer.

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