Dancing in 100 Places Pt. 4

post 4.5 “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 fourth 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

I am pleased to announce that after 3 solid weeks of frustration, I am now capable of unlocking our apartment door all by myself! My housemates are incredibly proud of me – they were getting pretty sick of having to let me in/provide assistance every time I felt like going out. The novelty of being chief door opener whenever we all go out together will probably wear off soon, but for now I’m finding much joy in showing off my newfound door opening skills.

in the gardens 1


This week marks the halfway point of my time here in Italy. After classes on Tuesday we went and explored the beautiful Boboli Gardens and the Belvedere Fort.

The view from the gardens

The view from the gardens

I may or may not have gotten in a little bit of trouble for dancing at the fort (ok I did get in trouble). I say trouble, but the guard basically just laughed at me a lot for the first 2 videos, then told me I had to stop after I’d attracted a small crowd, so no major drama.

Disturbing the Peace in the gardens

Disturbing the Peace

On Thursday we all had our final exams for our respective classes (I totally nailed my Italian exam in case anyone was wondering), then everyone headed off for the amazing weekend trips they had planned.

Getting some post-exam gelato with my Italian classmates.

Getting some post-exam gelato with my Italian classmates.

I was supposed to work on Friday, but at 10pm on Thursday night, my internship boss emailed me to inform me that the following day was a public holiday and that I didn’t need to come in again until Monday! Score! I’d somehow gained an unexpected long weekend! So with no time to plan anything more exciting, I headed to Viareggio on Friday (about an hour and a half west of Florence by train) to go to the beach.
 Viareggio 2
On Saturday morning I caught the 6am train to Cinque Terre, a series of five coastal towns on Italy’s west coast. If you ever get to visit anywhere in Italy, go to the Cinque Terre. I had the most incredible weekend hiking between the towns, swimming, sunbathing, dancing and relaxing.

Starting the weekend right #viareggio #italy #paabroad #paaitaly #beach #sun #summer #imsunburnt #swim

A video posted by Sophie (@lipbalmiscool) on

It’s beautiful. I stayed overnight at a hostel in Biassa, a 10 minute bus ride from the first Cinque Terre town, Riomaggiore.


Riomaggiore (cinque Terre)

Riomaggiore. Did I mention it’s beautiful?

This was perfect because it was 10x cheaper than actually staying in the Cinque Terre, but still close enough to be convenient. After hiking 3kms between the towns of Monterosso and Vernazza on Saturday, I fell asleep almost instantly.

Sunday involved much of the same – swimming, eating, relaxing and enjoying the incredible views. I visited the middle town of Corniglia, which involved climbing a thousand stairs (I may be exaggerating slightly, but there were A LOT of stairs) to get from the train station into the actual town. If you want to swim, you then have to climb down another thousand stairs on the opposite side of town to get to the marina (which I did with only a few mental complaints). And then the process is reversed to get back to the train. Your legs will be in fantastic shape by the end of it, I promise you – mine definitely are. The other 4 towns are much easier to get to and involve a lot less walking (thank goodness).

Me in Corniglia (cinque Terre)

Obviously, the stairs are worth it.

Of course, I smashed out as many videos as I could, managing to get around 10 over the 2 days. Such a beautiful place, I could’ve stayed there for so much longer. It was with great reluctance that I boarded my train back to Florence that night.
3 weeks in, 52 down, 48 to go. Bring it on.

Dancing in 100 Places Pt. 3

Post 2a“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 third 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

My favourite thing about doing these videos is watching them back and seeing people’s reactions as they notice me randomly dancing in the middle of a crowd. Some people don’t even notice, but others do a full on double take as they walk past. I still can’t work out if it’s easier or harder to film myself while my housemates are standing near me – I feel less on display having friendly faces around, but they also spend the entire time laughing shamelessly at me. The only upside is that their laughing makes me laugh as well, so I actually look happy in those videos, rather than just incredibly awkward. It is definitely getting easier though, but I think that’s more to do with the circumstances in which I’m filming rather than a growth in my own level of self-confidence. My GoPro decided this week that it no longer wants to connect to my phone, so I can’t preview what I’m getting in the shot, meaning that I have less things to procrastinate with now. It’s more of a ‘set up the tripod, aim it in the general direction of the cool thing I want to be in the shot, then hope for the best’, which kind of forces me to just get on with it.


Sure they look friendly, but they’re ruthless.

This week has been pretty full on for everyone, with classes now being in full swing, but we still managed to get out and explore. On Monday night we hiked up to the Piazza de Michelangelo to watch the sunset (so many stairs!). The view of Florence was breathtakingly beautiful – I will definitely be going up there again. After classes on Thursday we climbed the bell tower of the Duomo (once again, so may stairs! I’m sorry legs!!!), and saw yet another spectacular view of the city. I even managed to sneak in a video!

13388655_1100098333386969_144071400_n copyAfter work on Friday we took the hour long train ride to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower – prepare yourselves for stereotypical tourist photos. It was pretty amazing watching hundreds of random people all doing the exact same pose at the exact same time – imagine how weird it would be seeing that in your local city, yet here the locals are so used to it they hardly bat an eyelid!

See the Tower, Be the Tower

See the Tower, Be the Tower

On Saturday I decided to take a day trip by myself to the nearby town of Lucca. It’s pretty small and there’s not a great deal to do, but after such a busy week it was a nice relaxing change. After a few hours of exploring I set up my camera in front of the Basilica di San Frediano. I got up and performed half a count of moves, only to be video-bombed by some street performers who set up right next to me. Too lazy to move the camera or wait for them to move, I just went with it, laughing to myself at how badly my dancing went with their music.

Sunday was the most relaxing day of the week – we had a Chianti wine tour booked for 2pm so got to sleep in, go for a hike up the mountain and take the morning at our own pace. Typically, at 1:55pm it started bucketing down with rain, meaning that we were rather wet by the time we got on the bus. Our first stop was a small winery in the town of Monteriggioni (about an hour drive from Florence). Once again, we got absolutely soaked walking up the hill, but they had an AMAZING dessert wine which made up for it. Next stop was a winery in San Gimignano for the sit down tasting. Nine glasses of wine later and everyone was feeling pretty content (maybe even a little more than content to be honest). It was a great way to finish the week.

Wine Tour.

Wine Tour.

Two weeks in, 26 down, 74 to go. Bring it on.

Crushing it:

Crushing it.

Crushing it.

Dancing in 100 Places Pt. 2

Blog 2 - 1

“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

Post 2a

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.

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