Dancing in 100 Places Pt. 2

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“Before I left for my Performing Arts Abroad experience in Italy, I was dared to film myself dancing in 100 different places over the course of my travels. A challenge? Most definitely!”

Sophie Marshall is a dancer from Armadale Australia and she is currently an Arts Administration (Dance) Intern in Florence, Italy. This is the second in a series of updates on her Dancing in 100 Places project.  See the rest of the series here. You can also follow her on Instagram @lipbalmiscool


As much as I don’t want to be one of those clichéd travelers who ‘had an amazing first week in insert destination here’, my first week in Italy was absolutely incredible. Florence is such a vibrant and fun city with so much to do, so much to see and so many places to go! Add some awesome new friends into the mix and boom – you have the perfect equation for an amazing first week!



I’ll admit upfront that the week didn’t get off to the greatest start – there was a slight issue with my apartment’s front door. Specifically the lock and my inability to use said lock. I wish I was exaggerating, but I spent a solid hour trying to unlock the door. I was very unsuccessful. Admitting defeat, I hauled my suitcase back through the streets of Florence to the university to ask for help (not an easy task with all the cobblestones). “Did you try turning the key the other way??” This must be the key version of “did you try turning it off and on again?” Yes. Amazingly, I did think of that. Sigh.

I did eventually make it into the apartment. And (thankfully) it was not just me that had had difficulties with the lock. I have still not actually managed to unlock the door by myself (even though the landlord changed the keys and no one else is having problems now), but I’m determined to master the skill by the end of the 6 weeks.

So not the greatest of starts, but I’m optimistic that the next 6 weeks will run smoothly. My new housemates are a great bunch – fun, friendly, and great at making light-hearted jokes about my accent (which they do at least 3 times a day). Over the weekend we took day trips to Livorno (a coastal town about an hour from Florence) and Siena. On Saturday we followed a local couple in Livorno who looked like they were dressed for the beach, and ended up at a small, quiet cove. It was beautiful. We swam, we sunbathed, we explored – it was such a great day.

Livorno Cove

Livorno Cove

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It was the perfect location for filming, so I wasted no time in setting up my camera and tripod. Of course, I then had to awkwardly explain to my housemates what I was doing, and thankfully, they only laughed at me a little bit. Actually they laughed at me a lot, and seemed to find great joy in filming me film myself. Thanks guys. I managed to knock out 4 more videos, bringing my total up to 8! I am on a roll!

On Sunday we headed to Siena. The day started well but then the weather decided it was bored with sunshine and it quickly clouded over. I had my camera set up in front of the Duomo at the time and I knew it was going to start bucketing down pretty soon. I filmed a quick video but wasn’t happy with how many tourists were blocking the cathedral. I decided I was going to wait until the storm hit and quickly film it again as soon as people ran for cover. There was a split second of calm between the initial shower and the downpour – I saw an opportunity and I took it. Did I get soaked? Yes. Was it worth it? YES! In the full video you can hear the ear-piercing screams of people running for cover as the downpour hits (we all laughed when we watched the video back on my computer at the apartment), but the view of the Duomo is practically perfect. Mission success.

Post 2cOverall, I’d say it was a pretty productive week!
12 videos down, 88 to go. Bring it on.

Dancing in 100 Places Pt. 1

blog - 1Sophie Marshall is a dancer from Armadale Australia.  She studies Accounting and Japanese at Curtin University in Perth, and she is currently an Arts Administration (Dance) Intern in Florence, Italy.  This is the first in a series about her Dancing in 100 Different Places project.  You can also follow her on Instagram @lipbalmiscool

Before I left for my Performing Arts Abroad experience in Italy, I was dared to dance in 100 different places over the course of my travels. A challenge? Most definitely! But as nervous as I was, I prepared myself for the inevitable awkwardness of having to bust out my moves in the middle of crowds of unsuspecting tourists. I choreographed a routine, bought myself a camera and a tripod so I could film myself, and practised playing around with video editing software – I was as ready as I’d ever be. With determination and excitement (and maybe with a dash of fear and nervousness) I boarded the plane that would take me on the adventure of a lifetime.

Image copyMy first stop was England, and before flying to Florence I spent a day exploring the beautiful city of London. After managing to get myself lost an embarrassing number of times, it was finally time for my first public performance. St. Paul’s Cathedral was not particularly busy, but convincing myself to actually get up and dance was a mission and a half. I set up the camera, played with the angles, moved the camera again and played with the angles some more – the procrastination techniques went on and on (and on).

A solid twenty minutes later I told myself to pull myself together and just do it. So I put on my music, dragged myself into position, busted out some moves and tried to ignore all the weird looks I was getting from the people walking past. Feeling incredibly awkward and embarrassed, I went back to my camera with the relief of having got the first one out of the way. Only to discover that I had forgotten to press record.

Me after realising I hadn't pressed record

Me after realising I hadn’t pressed record

I almost cried – the thought of having to go through the ordeal AGAIN was awful and I seriously considered just not bothering. But I persevered. It took me another 15 minutes to psyche myself up again, and only after realising that everyone who had seen me the first time had most likely moved on by now, did I get up, PRESS RECORD, and perform for the second time. I totally nailed it – it actually recorded this time!

Throughout the rest of the day I moved from place to place scouting for possible video locations (and of course getting incredibly lost on multiple occasions). I’d hoped that after getting the first one out of the way it would be easy for me to do the rest of them, but I was wrong. If anything, it got harder – as the day progressed the touristy areas became overrun with tourists and crowds, meaning that my ‘audiences’ were getting bigger and bigger each time! I guess I’m just going to have to suck it up and get used to embarrassing myself in public.

Deal with it.

Deal with it.

Exhausted, but feeling very accomplished with my 4 videos, I headed back to my accommodation to eat, rest and get ready for my flight to Florence.

Four down, ninety-six to go! Bring it on.

To the Opera, in Italy

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Stephanie Marson was an Arts Administration intern in Italy with a focus on Music in January of 2015.  She is a Vocal Performance major at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

My experience in Italy was very exciting as I not only learned about how a small opera company operates, but I also was immersed in a culture that was different from my own.

marson 7For Jan Term, I completed an internship in Florence, Italy through Performing Arts Abroad which is affiliated with the Florence University of the Arts (FUA). I stayed in student housing that was provided by FUA. My apartment, which I shared with five others, was on the side of the Arno opposite the Duomo.

My major is Vocal Performance so I wanted to have an internship that related to it. I worked with St. Mark’s Opera Company, a non-profit music society that performs in St. Mark’s English Church in Florence, as well as other locations.

Marson St-Marks-Church-01St. Mark’s Opera Company was founded by Franz and Ilse Moser 13 years ago. The singers come from different opera houses in Tuscany, most of them from Florence. The church is part of an old Medici Palace that was owned by Machiavelli and has been renovated in a neo-renaissance style with beautiful icons. It is also an important venue for Firenze Lirica, a well-established Florentine society for the promotion of operatic performance and study.

Marson St-Marks-Church-03I also took an Italian class as part of my internship for two and a half hours per day. My Italian class was located near the FUA Student Life Office near the Santa Croce Church. At night I worked with the opera company, both in preparations, serving refreshments during intermission, cleanup afterwards, and later, performing.

When the company discovered that I was a music major, they asked me to sing an aria for one performance. Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 1.28.12 PMI sang “Stizzoso, mio stizzoso” from “La Serva Padrona” by G.B. Perolesi. After that, they kept me as a permanent part of the program for the rest of the month!

Franco Rossi (baritone); Claudia Ciabattini (soprano); Franz Moser (piano)

Franco Rossi (baritone); Claudia Ciabattini (soprano); Franz Moser (piano)

It was an honor to sing with such talented professionals.  The opera program fro January was “Love Duets” from famous operas.  Lucky for me, someone recorded one of my performances on their cell phone.

The time went by quickly. On my last night in Florence and the last night singing with the St. Mark’s Opera Company, all I could say was Fantastico esperienza! Ciao Firenze.

For more, I created a blog about my experiences.


An Artistic Reminder

ciceroScarlet Cicero is a Dancer from Miami, Florida who’s traveled the world from a young age.  She is currently on PAA’s Dance Administration Internship in Florence, Italy.

“That which cannot be spoken can be sung; that which cannot be sung can be danced.” — French proverb

This is a quote that has stuck with me since my love affair with the stage began, however, it has taken on a new meaning as of late. Since I arrived in Italy, my personal language priorities seemed to focus on food to successfully navigate those decadent menus and the use of “quanti costa” after I’ve been drawn in by one too many beautiful vintage handbags and the intoxicating smell of leather shops. With passable communication and mediocre translation skills under my belt, I embarked on dance training here in Italy.

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Some photos are mandatory

Not knowing the language around you is like losing one of your senses. We really never realize how much we rely on our subconscious to know what is going on around us. Going into dance classes here, I was told “è la guerra – it is war”. This comment refers to the fact that no teacher was going to stop and explain anything in English. The task seemed daunting, but I was prepared.

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They don’t call it “Warrior Pose” for nothing.

I embraced my anxious jitters and dove into class — head first. It was just like being back in a studio in the States, I picked up the center work quickly, swore under my breath whenever I lost my footing, and did the best I could to interpret the jubilant corrections (not always a simple task in english either). I came in with preconceived anxiety about not be able to understand and fear of being completely lost, but it really was no different from stepping into an unfamiliar class in the USA. Movement is movement. It is beautiful and used differently all over the world. Dance, passion, expression, art; none of it needs translation, in the words of Martha Graham, “Dance is the hidden language of the Soul.”

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And honey, I’ve got soul.

I think as performers and artists, this is a struggle we often internally face, no matter the language. Living here has lead me to realize that art does not need to be fully accepted or understood, but rather aim to evoke emotion, conversation, and interpretation. They say living abroad will bring new realizations to all aspects of your life, and it is beyond true. I am able to use my language impairment as a positive study for body initiation,movement details, and visual leads. In addition, I can develop my own meaning for each composition – a skill that is often under developed in all of us.

cicero 4As my language and dance skills strengthen in unison, my recent artistic realizations will also thrive. I encourage anyone reading this to take the plunge, jump out of your comfort zone, escape your norms, and see what personal discoveries you find.ezgif.com-optimize

My Italian Summer

Ponte Alle Grazie copyShreenika Ramani did a PAA Arts Administration Internship in Italy in the summer of 2015.  You can read the amazing essay she wrote as her internship capstone about the state and nature of Theatre here.  

My summers are usually constructive. I spend my summers either taking up an internship or learning something interesting. However, this summer has been special. And it turned special the minute I decided to do an Internship program abroad offered by PAA. I participated in the Arts Administration Internship in Italy, where I worked with a startup Theatre group operating in Florence.

PAA followed a guided approach from the stage of application to after the program ended. The process was systematic, simplified and full proof. This made my time abroad hassle free and enriched my experience.

Each day of my three weeks in Italy was filled with activity and evoked excitement. As a part of the program, I was enrolled in an Italian language class at the Florence University of Arts. I was up every morning at 6:30 like an excited child on Christmas day. I attended school, post which I went to my internship later in the day. At the ‘Medici Dynasty Show’ (the theatre company), I ideated marketing plans and maintained public relations through social media and on field promotions. Every day I took upon a new task with a view that there was knowledge at ‘play’ everywhere and that I had so much to learn. I was party to chatter, silence, confusion and an ingenious solution to every ‘yesterday’s problem’. As a result, I had a very fulfilling internship experience.

IMG_4557 copyApart from gaining a basic understanding of the local language, the school gave me access to extracurricular activities and excursions which allowed me to interact with other students at the university and make friends. These friendships made amidst picturesque Domes and Bridges of Florence, the thrill of keeping busy and the adventure of coping with a new environment made my Italian Summer memorable and gratifying.

Thank You Performing Arts Abroad for making this possible and motivating me to embark on such a journey in the first place!


Finding a New “Me” in Florence


My name is Marina Stagnaro, from Argentina, and I am now a PAA Alumni. I completed 12-week Dance Administration program in Florence Italy, 2 months ago.

When I traveled, I knew I wanted to learn as much as possible about dance, and the dance industry, I knew I wanted to speak fluent Italian. I knew I wanted to find new friends.

I did all that.

I took wonderful dance classes with amazing teachers.11349978_10207133941252316_1730711680_n

I had a great internship placement, with kind and creative people, who taught me a lot.

I can say my Italian is pretty good now, and I’m proud of it!

I made friends with people from so many countries, I can’t even remember right now.

I met dancers, teachers, choreographers, students, artists, and more.

What I didn’t know, was that I would also find a new “me”.

Because the girl who arrived in Florence, wasn’t the same girl who left in a plane back to Argentina. And it’s not the same girl who’s writing this.

When you go abroad, you rediscover yourself; in a new place, with new people, with a new language.

It’s literally starting for zero.11257240_10206836283731064_2173388308092889416_n

You allow yourself to do mistakes, you try everything you can for the sake of the “experience”, you make friends almost everyday, you’re not scared of going places all by yourself.

You discover who you are alone, what are the things you really like and what are the things you accept because someone told you so. You do thing because you want to (and you do a lot of things). You eat what you want. You go wherever and whenever you want. It’s you, with you.

And when you come back home, you have to rediscover yourself again.

It is not easy to keep being this improved version of yourself, surrounded by people who only know the old one. It may seem easy and comfortable to just go back to who you were before.11273709_10207050608489049_800598498_n

Don’t do that, don’t forget all those experiences that made you see the world from a different perspective.

I’m talking about both your “performing arts” related experiences, and the “life experiences”.

Don’t leave behind everything you learned about dance, music, theatre or whatever your field is. Don’t leave behind everything you learned about yourself.

Everyday you become a better an improved version of yourself.

Make good use of it.

I’m trying to do so.

Are you?11356302_10207134065895432_244535754_n

What It’s Like to Improve Your Italian and Dance in Florence, Italy

Hello! My name is Marina Stagnaro and I am an intern with Performing Arts Abroad at a dance company in Florence, Italy from Argentina.

I am seeing the spring bloom in Florence.

I’ve been in Florence a whole month, still have a long road ahead, and I’m loving it all the way. I’m a dancer, a dance teacher, a dance learner, a person who wants to bring the best of dance to my very own city.

Dance Internship in Florence, Italy
Given my future projects, this seems like a dream come true, getting the chance to see how the dance “business” should be taken care of: all the little things necessary to make dancers “shine” that nobody sees.

I’ve already learned quite a lot about the working methodology for different kind of events: the company touring, hosting other local companies, shows meant for adults or for children, hosting workshops and even hosting the UC Santa Barbara Dance Company, all of them being beautiful experiences as a whole, meeting dancers, choreographers, teachers and students.

Dance Internship in Florence, Italy

As this seems to be a “once in a lifetime” chance, I’ve also made time to continue some of my dance education here, taking ballet classes with a wonderful ex prima ballerina, besides some hiphop or other styles classes that I can find. So I’m able to say I’m literally “dancing in Italy”.

But this whole “Italy Experience” is beyond just that.

I came to Italy solely for a Dance Administration Internship through Performing Arts Abroad, but here I’m also seen as a student of FUA (Florence University of the Arts), and that means many other things.

I share an apartment with other FUA students, who came for different programs, for different amounts of time, from different places. “Home” has just became a daily cultural exchange.I’m making friends from all over the world!

My Italian has truly improved thanks to classes taken there, and to because I try my best to speak only Italian in the internship, dance classes and streets in general.

But besides that, as a FUA student, I have access to the free classes in the gym, I can join the trips they organize, I went to a cooking congress and to a fashion show, just to mention a few things.

This program isn’t just about what the “title” says. It’s about what you make of it.
It’s about rediscovering yourself, leaving fears aside and taking every opportunity to make something new.

Dance Internship in Florence, Italy

And the best part of MY journey? I’m only half-way…