Spain Times

Hannah McCarthy is a PAA alumnus who interned at La Caldera dance studio in Barcelona, Spain during the summer of 2017. The video below is the final product of Hannah’s capstone project.

During my eight week Dance Internship in Spain, Barcelona quickly became like a second home to me. After being ushered into a taxi with my new roommate, Natalia, I realized that I would be learning even more about myself than expected that summer.

First lesson: Step, or might I say, leap out of your shell as soon as possible!

PAA makes a point of mixing their students with other groups studying or working in Barcelona. I had a roommate from Virginia and flatmates from California and North Carolina. Each of us from different places, interning in different fields, yet we were plopped together in a nice apartment in Gracia, expected to become friends for life. Well…it worked. I’ve never met a more talented, interesting group of women who I could spend every waking moment with while seeing new places and experiencing new things.

Once I quickly got comfortable with the roomies, it was time to start work. An all new group of people, with even more diverse backgrounds, and a bit of a language barrier (my Spanish was a little rusty at the beginning). I interned at La Caldera, a dance and scenic art creation center that opens its doors to artists, teachers and audiences of all kinds. Here, I would be able to watch and participate in the inner workings of a dance focused non-profit, while also taking professional level classes and building an international network of dancers and artists. Needless to say I was nervous taking my first steps through the big glass doors.

All the nerves and first-day jitters vanished when Raquel Ortega, my supervisor, immediately smiled, grabbed my hands, then kissed both of my cheeks. Never have I felt more welcome in a work environment. This jubilation in meeting a new acquaintance was something I was not used to in America. I would continue to notice the accommodating nature of the Spanish culture throughout the 8 weeks of my immersion.

Second lesson:  Observe, take note, make change.

As time rolled by, I was rapidly becoming more infatuated with Barcelona and its slower-paced, laid-back tone. As a part of my internship, I got to walk around Barcelona’s various artistic districts to deliver fliers and promote upcoming shows. Some people might not be attracted to the idea of walking up to 11 miles per day and tirelessly hopping on and off the Metro, but I couldn’t get enough. Every day was a new discovery. I found exhibit after intriguing exhibit. I watched artists at work in studios. I saw street art of every color and style. I also made mistakes and got lost a few times, which only allowed me to see more of the city and its carefree people. After about the second week, I started to slow down my relentless power walk and breathe in each moment. The world around me was opening. I was speaking more Spanish to local shop owners, even ordering my coffee in Catalan. I was on a mission to adapt to my surroundings, and I was welcomed with open arms. That is when Barcelona became home.

Perhaps the most inviting community in Barcelona was the dance scene. When it came to taking dance classes, my nerves were at their pinnacle. I had never taken classes in Spanish. Do they even say ‘plie’, I would think to myself before entering the studio space. Again, I couldn’t be nervous for long. The classes I took at La Caldera were filled with new concepts and ideas. The mood was inviting, calm, less competitive than many American dance classes seem to be. I felt as if, for the first time in my adult life, I was dancing for myself. No one was judging me. There were no mirrors, so I couldn’t even judge myself. I listened intently to corrections and felt them viscerally rather than just letting them flow in one ear and right back out the other. When we did contact exercises, we truly touched each other. It was a sincere feeling that I often missed in my classes back home. It made me want to bring these lessons I was learning back to my university classes. I was being challenged to step far out of my mental and physical comfort zone…and I just didn’t get tired of it.

Third lesson: Just do it all.

When I was offered the opportunity to complete a capstone project, I was nudged by my advisers to do so. I always had the idea of wanting to choreograph while in Spain, but I wasn’t sure who to set the work on. Once I decided to do the capstone, things just started falling into place. Typical Barcelona magic. My adviser introduced me to a dancer named Elisabet Sanchez. She hadn’t danced in a while, as she was busy being the single caregiver for her young son. However, she was more than excited to learn my choreography. From there, our stories and lives began to intertwine. Together, we created a work which spoke to the female situation in society. Long talks led to the realization that our cultures shared many similarities in that aspect. Oppression and confusion were woven into both of our pasts and consequently into the piece. Out of our sharing of stories and favorite literature, grew a project that is unmatched with any of my previous experiences. I think it sums up my experience with the PAA Dance Internship in Spain. I will always be grateful for the beautiful city of Barcelona and its open and accepting people.

 

Worst thing about me was fixed in Ecuador, OLEY!

Hello, there! Yes yes yes, I made it all the way from a small old city Bethlehem, Palestine to Ecuador. Let me tell you first a little about myself. My name is Aleen Masoud, a 22-year-old Masters student in Arts, Business and Creativity at Newcastle University. I started playing the violin at the age of 10 at Edward Said National Conservatory for Music and at the age of 18, outside of my bathroom’s door, I started singing too. You can say I’m a traveler too, but never thought I’d travel to South America in my life. So, how did I end up there?

I decided that I wanted to do something special before the stress that I knew it’s coming in my life. So, I started googling; fun things to do before being a student, again. And guess what I got? NOTHING useful! So, after spending time thinking, I knew what I needed was a new cultural experience plus doing something fruitful to the society; Yup, that’s called volunteering. Back to googling, I read about Performing Arts Abroad (PAA) and that was exactly what I needed. I did a music internship for 4 weeks and not only that, I made friends, became part of a family, saw beauty itself and gained weight, Duh!

I was excited but more nervous. Especially that my mom was stressing me out more, thinking that I might get kidnapped (After watching a movie called Snatched), ill or worst-case scenario die. I took the risk because that what life is about so, on 16th June 2017, I arrived at Quito. I must tell you that every single thing with PAA is very organized. After 2 days of sight-seeing, it was time to meet my host family and start the program, where I did it at SINAMUNE institute.

Now we are getting into the point, worst thing about me is knowing directions, which I’m horrible at! I travelled around the world from UK, touring around the States, Europe and around the Middle East too. But the problem, I always used to depend on others when traveling. I was only a follower and I would always say, ‘I don’t know, you do it, you organize guys, if you depend on me we’d get lost’. And voilà, it was only me, myself and I on this trip. And to be honest, I never thought I’d manage. Guess what? I never even got lost! I have to admit that this experience made me know more about me, my abilities and the person I want to become in the future. And made me absolutely ready for my next step at Newcastle and knowing even if I get lost I can manage, I am INDEPENDENT!

Quick advices:

  • Don’t pack that much, you won’t need it.
  • Make sure to break your money into $1,5,10.
  • Learn some Spanish, por favor!
  • Always have an open mind and heart.
  • Drink enough water.
  • 4 weeks is not enough, go for a minimum of 8 weeks.
  • Don’t think about love there, just enjoy your moments.
  • Must dance Salsa with a local. Back to the previous point, it’s not love, you’re just dancing.
  • Be careful, same in any country you travel to.
  • If you care about your shape, lose weight before going there.
  • Have fun!

Never Wake A Sleeping Sea Lion

Kayla Mernoff stops by to let us in on her summer music volunteering in the Galapagos!

             Within minutes of arriving on the island of San Cristobal for my music volunteering program in the Galápagos, I had already seen a beach, a few sea lions, and probably got a little bit sunburnt. It was an incredible feeling, to say the least. At that point in time I didn’t know how quickly four weeks could go by, and how much of an impact this trip would have on my life.

I arrived at my host family’s house and was immediately greeted by my host parents who were waiting to help me carry my suitcases to my room and introduce me to the rest of the family. I learned pretty quickly that they spoke almost no English, and while this seemed slightly intimidating at first, I was excited to improve my Spanish. After a trip to the office and a tour around the town, I discovered that I would spend my time teaching beginning English, and then working with a teacher at the local music school. While I was not expecting to teach English, I was up for the challenge and excited for what lay ahead of me.

The first few days of work took a little adjustment, but I soon got into a routine. At the time there was one other volunteer working with me at both the office and the music school, and she showed me how everything was laid out and how she went about teaching. The group of five year olds I was working with in the English class liked to run around, climb on top of me, and pretty much do anything except do their work. Though they seemed very against productivity at first, I soon learned how to have fun and teach them the alphabet at the same time. As I do speak Spanish, the language barrier was not a huge issue, but I did learn that it is sometime difficult to understand little kids, no matter what language they are speaking.

At the music school we helped with the violin and beginner music classes, along with teaching private piano lessons. The kids were very interested in learning, and even though they were only between the ages of 3 and 6, I could tell that some of them will grow into talented musicians if they continue with their teacher, Alva. Teaching 3 year olds about the musical staff and treble clef was no easy task, but by the end of my four weeks, they even knew a few notes on the piano. My piano student also improved each week, even though he was always tired and I am not the best pianist, and this was definitely an encouraging feat for me. I was also given a chance to play trumpet (my primary instrument) at a local church, thanks to Alva! By the end of my trip I had two other volunteers working with me at the school, and we are now fluent in what I like to call “Spanish for musicians.” I connected so well with Alva that I am now working on a project to send her students more instruments, as they do not have very many. I look forward to keeping in contact with her and the students, and hope that I can provide them with the instruments that they need to teach more kids the joy of music.

As amazing as the opportunities to volunteer on the island were, I cannot leave out the incredible people that I met and places that I visited. Going into this I was unaware of how many different countries were represented by the volunteer staff. While I met volunteers from the United States, the majority of my friends were from Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and even Australia! We met up most afternoons after work, and sometimes again after dinner. We took daily trips to nearby beaches, went snorkeling with sea turtles and sea lions, saw the Giant Tortoises, and even got to travel to two of the other islands to explore, swim, shop, and just spend time together. I’ve mentioned sea lions a few times now, so I should probably mention that they are EVERYWHERE. They lie on the benches, play in the sand, ad make a lot of noise. We were advised not to go near them, and I saw plenty of people try to pet them, unsuccessfully I might add. Beware of the Alpha Male! One of my favorite memories of this whole trip was taking pictures at sunset on one of the nearby beaches, Playa Mann. I was able to bring my trumpet, and take an incredible picture right next to the sea lions. That picture is surely the best representation of my trip.

            Overall, this was one incredible experience. The kids I taught all hugged me on my last day, and one of them even drew mea picture called “La Fiesta de Cumpleaños de Las Profes” (birthday party for the teachers). Between the kids, my host family, and all of the friends I made, I have people all over the world that I share these special memories with.

As much as learned on this trip about music, Spanish, and myself, I learned two major lessons that I will never forget: Glue and glitter do not mix with five year olds, and more importantly, never wake a sleeping sea lion.

 

 

Julia Perry Alum Spotlight Interview: RADA

We had a chance to catch up with PAA alum Julia Perry, and she offered us some insight about her experience on our RADA program!

1. What skills did you pick up that most helped you professionally?

The skills I picked up that helped me the most were most definitely those I developed when I was thrown into living and studying with a completely new group of people. Not only was it my first time living on my own, but it was my first time living in another country, and so immediately we all learned how to live and function as a little family. Additionally, I learned how to navigate and stay focused during a long school day! Although the classes are quite enjoyable, they are very long days, and so I learned how to stay energized and focused through long classroom days!

2. What is your fondest memory from RADA?

My fondest memory by far is the last day of classes. Doing our mini performance we weren’t focused on anything but doing our best and having fun, and without a doubt, I look back on that and smile because it was simply a wonderful day.

3. What impressed you the most about the program?

What impressed me most about the program was how knowledgeable the professors were on Shakespeare. Every question we had was answered intelligently and in a way that we could understand, making learning about Shakespeare not only easy, but truly fun.

4. What advice would you give to someone going on the program this summer?

Go with an open mind! Be ready to learn and work hard, but also have a lot of fun. My days were filled with text break downs and dance classes, and my nights were filled with delicious dinners!

PAA RADA Shakespeare Acting Intensive

Amy Abrigo did our RADA “Shakespeare at Large” Summer Acting Intensive last summer, 2016. We caught up with Amy as she was applying to MFA Directing programs, and here’s what she had to say:

1. What skills did you pick up that most helped you professionally?

Remembering to breathe! This is a skill that can be used in any profession or stressful situation, but it was really wonderful to be shown so many ways to get connected to our breath.

The professor who taught us voice (not singing) shared with us plenty of stretches, warm ups, and ways to get our voices connected to the text. We learned new ways to breathe and were also heavily reminded to keep breathing while onstage. There is so much that can really come alive onstage when you are fully connected to your breath.

2. What is your fondest memory from RADA? 

  1. One of my fondest memories from RADA was watching the other members of my class visibly grow in their skill-set as the course continued. We learned so much in a short amount of time, and it was beautiful to see those changes come alive when we were asked to redo our monologue at the end of the week that we originally did on the first day.
  2. There was a time when the entire class went out to a pub after class to get to know each other and have a good time. We were all talking about practicing lines and working hard and it was great to be in a space where everyone was there for the same purpose and really enjoyed what they were doing in the program.
  3. Every day, Tim would sit us down during rehearsal and just talk to us. Tell us about theatre, share stories of his past with us, and teach us these beautiful overarching lessons through one story. I really enjoyed when he shared his wisdom with us, and it reminded me of how although we live in different countries and focus on specific disciplines, all of my fellow students and professors are part of this larger lovely community of theatre artists who just love making art and that really excites me.

3. What impressed you the most about the program?

The level of training we received was nearly equivalent to master’s level in the United States, in my opinion, which was fantastic! All of the professors treated us as professional artists. We were given high expectations and expected to follow them and that was it. I loved that we were actually pushed to challenge ourselves and learned so much along the way.

4. What advice would you give to someone going on the program this summer?

Arrive earlier or stay later if you can so you can really explore London, the theatres, etc. If you can, save up or fundraise extra money so you can make a longer trip out of the program. You’re going to London, why not take a train to Scotland? Or stay a few more days in London just to explore?

I would also highly recommend getting most of your food from the grocery store instead of eating out or PRET-A-MANAGER, which can be much more expensive and not necessarily as healthy. There are so many grocery stores on almost every block in London, so it is easy to find a Sainsbury’s, where you can get a 3-5 pound meal deal, which means you pay about 3-5 pounds for a full lunch. This is a great option for RADA lunches, is much cheaper, and actually quite healthy as they use all natural ingredients and have healthier options in London compared to America.

I would also recommend carrying cash instead of using a card as there are transaction fees every time you use your card. Take money out in waves with your debit card if you need to, and then just use cash. It’s so much easier and doesn’t cost you more.

Try out a few of the local pubs! Alcohol actually tastes much better in London, is much cheaper, and there are so many more options! Also, the bartenders actually let you try something before you buy it, so try something new!

Theatre is much cheaper in London and every West End theatre has rush or lottery tickets, so try for those! They are the cheapest tickets and also the best (usually front row)! Don’t forget about the other off-West End theatres in London. I’d recommend the Almeida Theatre, but ask your professors! They know the area, they might even be working on a show, and they can let you know what shows are open and good to see! So bring extra money for tickets! Be sure to see any ‘Broadway’ shows you want to see as well because – you guessed it – they are actually cheaper in London.

Be sure to check out the local museums – I recommend the Victoria & Albert museum, but look up when you are walking around or taking the tube because you will see posters everywhere telling you what exhibits are currently out, etc.

Also, take the Tube! You have an Oystercard for a majority of the program, but there are some days that aren’t covered, and if you arrive early / stay late for the trip, you can order a visitor’s Oystercard online ahead of time for a lower cost. If you can get day passes instead of individual rates it’s great because you can take the Tube/buses as much as you want whenever you want and not have to worry. Use the Tube! Yes, you can walk everywhere, but you will get a lot more done if you use the Tube to explore all the areas of London. Don’t be afraid! You will make it, and you will feel so much better once you get a hang of the system – and then you will ask why every country doesn’t have this much accessibility.

London Theatre Profile: Young Vic Theatre

Christine Stein is a PAA Arts Administration Intern in London. For her internship capstone project she’ll profiling a different London theatre every month from September to January. Stay tuned for more from Christine soon!

Young Vic Theatre

Five Fun Facts:

  1. The Young Vic theatre takes pride in how open and accepting they are. They are big supporters of the LGBTQ community, which is shown by the large rainbow flag they hang outside their doors. They believe that their secret to success is to support everyone, and be welcome to all. Pretty good motto if you ask me!

via GIPHY

  1. No matter what your price point, you can go see a show! The Young Vic gives away 10% of their tickets in order to allow people who normally cannot afford theatre tickets to go see shows. They also offer a variety of ticket prices for students and kids. They want to make sure they share their art with as many people as possible.

  1. They play a big part in arts education for London. They encourage all local schools to come and see shows in their theatre, no matter what the age of the kids. Not many of the surrounding theatres are as great about providing options for arts education in the area.

  2. They have a wonderful café right inside the lobby! It serves as a great meeting place for a casual cup of coffee, or to enjoy some lunch. (I highly recommend their croissants!)

  1. They have an awesome green sustainability program, which you can tell immediately from walking into the building. They were awarded 3 stars by Julie’s Bicycle, a local sustainability charity, which is the highest score you can get! They encourage everyone to help create a better environment, and definitely do their part to make that happen!

via GIPHY

Brief History:

The Young Vic theatre was originally supposed to be an “offshoot” of the Old Vic theatre, which is right across the street. Laurence Olivier said that there should be a theatre to develop plays for young audiences, and then the Young Vic was born. It was built on an old bomb-site from World War II. Since its beginning over 30 years ago, the Young Vic has been on a steady stream of producing wonderful theatre that can be available to all. To find out more about the Young Vic, visit their website: http://www.youngvic.org/

Coming next:

The Space Arts Centre

The New Alternative Sound From Italy

Elizabeth Willis is a student at West Texas A&M University.  She has participated in multiple PAA programs, including the Music Industry Internship with Indie Rock Band in Rome, where she interned for Kutso.

Remember when we all use to wig out over some wicked good artists like Weezer, The White Stripes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, The Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam and Nirvana? I do and to be honest I still listen to them. These bands all had something in common at the peak of their popularity, they weren’t afraid to go against the status quo and sing about how they really felt. The goal was to give listeners something that was different and usually made a statement. For years this has been one of my favorite genres of music to explore and I’m here to introduce you to a new sound that you might enjoy with alternative releases being put on the back burner. Kutso, is an Italian Indie band that was founded in 2006 by front man Matteo Gabbianelli. Other members of the band include Donatello Giorgi on guitar and vocals, Luca Amendola on bass and vocals, and Simone Bravi on drums. The band released their first official album “Decadendo (su un materasso)”, Decaying on a dying mattress in 2013 at Circolo Degli in Rome. The hit single “Alè” remained in the top 10 of Indie Music Like for more than 4 weeks gaining mass popularity. Over the past two years, Kutso has scheduled more than 200 performances across Italy and has won numerous awards at multiple music festivals. In February 2015, they released their second album “Musica per persone sensibili” which included three hit songs “Elisa”, “Io Rosico”, and “Spray Nasale.”

Kutso has such a unique sound and even more of a unique persona. They are able to bring an audience to life with the combination of vocal range, excitement and much more. If you watch some of the band’s music videos, or even better, watch them live, you will see how energetic and explosive they are! I encourage all of my fellow alternative and indie rock lovers to check them out online and if you’re in the same city, live! Below I have listed a link to some of my personal favorites, I hope you enjoy.