Performing Arts Abroad

324 E. Oak Street Fort Collins, CO 80524 United States

About Performing Arts Abroad

Year Founded: 2011

Performing Arts Abroad (PAA) is an organization that strives to enhance understanding and awareness of the diverse world through arts of theater, music, and dance. PAA sends students and participants on trips for study, intern, volunteer, and career workshops abroad. We believe the experience of cross-cultural collaboration is invaluable for performing artists and is committed to providing international programming of the highest caliber to promote a more global perspective for our participants. Our participants do not have to worry about working behind a desk. By focusing on the performance aspect of theater, music, and dance, participants gain specific training in their craft and are able to bring their own arts experiences to an international community.

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Music Semester in Italy

Italy : Florence

Study vocal or instrumental music in Florence, one of Italy's most important cultural centers and the capital of the region of Tuscany. Musical excellence is part of the

Music Volunteering in Kenya

Kenya : Nairobi

Work with talented musicians who are using music for education, social change, and development in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi. Experience the transformative power of

Dance Semester in Ireland

Ireland : Limerick

Spend a semester at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick, and learn traditional techniques from esteemed professors. Experience Irish dance as it was created...

Dance Semester in Italy

Italy : Florence

Develop skills as a dancer by studying at a renowned Italian dance school for a semester or summer session, and get the chance to pursue an internship with a local professional...

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) Summer Acting Intensive

England : London

Train with esteemed instructors at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), London’s finest school for theater! Performing Arts Abroad teams up with the prestigious...

Film Internship in South Africa

South Africa : Cape Town (Kaapstad)

Get the unique opportunity to work with a studio producing content for South African cable television channels. The small size of the studio gives interns the feel of a tight-knit...

Music Internship in Spain

Spain : Barcelona

Intern at a local music school in Barcelona or work for a Salsa and Latin Jazz Festival in the summer, to explore the music industry abroad. Interns will work at least 20...

Music Industry Internship with Indie Rock Band in Rome

Italy : Roma (Rome)

Kutso, a quirky, funny, energetic indie rock band need interns to work in their recording studio and record label. Help them promote themselves to an international audience!...

Blas Summer Music Program in Ireland

Ireland : Limerick

Immerse yourself in an intensive Blas summer program offered by the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance to study traditional Irish music and song. The Academy offers a...

Blas Summer Dance Intensive Program in Ireland

Ireland : Limerick

Study traditional Irish music and song by immersing yourself in this two-week intensive Blas summer program offered by the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. While the...

Ghana Summer Dance Program

Ghana : Accra, Kumasi

Travel around Ghana in this three-week all inclusive trip with a group of Africa enthusiasts and performing artists and receive state of the art dance training from some

Ghana Winter Break Music Program

Ghana : Accra

Fly to Accra and participate in an annual festival celebrating the heritage and performing arts of the Dagara people. You will spend the second week of the program receiving...

Ghana Winter Break Dance Program

Ghana : Accra

This is one of our most unique and exciting programs. You will have the opportunity to attend and participate in a traditional dance and music festival in northern Ghana....

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) Summer Acting Intensive

England : London

Take intensive classes in acting and train with esteemed instructors at London’s finest school for theater, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)! Spend your days in...

Music Volunteering in Ecuador

Ecuador : Quito

Volunteer abroad for a month or more with a foundation in Quito, Ecuador and offer music and the arts as means of providing therapy and education to youth and adults with...

Dance Volunteering in Ecuador

Ecuador : Quito

Share your dance knowledge with a traditional dance group or engage in art therapy for youth and adults with disabilities. On this program, volunteers will be placed with...

Music Internship in Ecuador

Ecuador : Quito

Intern abroad with a foundation in Quito and teach music and the arts as ways to provide therapy and education to children and young people with disabilities. Interns will...

Dance Internship in Ecuador

Ecuador : Quito

Intern for four weeks or more and contribute to the operation of a dance organization seeking to promote traditional dance of Ecuador and the Andes region, or for three months...

Ghana Summer Music Program

Ghana : Accra

Join a group of Africa enthusiasts and musicians to travel around Ghana and receive state of the art music training from some of Ghana’s most accomplished musicians. This...

West End Musical Theatre Training Program in England

England : London

Jump in to this intensive program and train in London’s West End in musical theater with some of the most accomplished actors, dancers, stage combat instructors, and directors...

Music Volunteering in South Africa

South Africa : Nelspruit

As a volunteer, you will work with children of various backgrounds to develop themselves through music. The goal is to use music to cultivate shared values between communities...

Dance Volunteering in South Africa

South Africa : Nelspruit

Work internationally with young dancers to develop their talents, train for competitions, and share a variety of styles of dance. You will give a platform for local children,...

Music Internship in South Africa

South Africa : Nelspruit

This international music internship is an opportunity to assist with the administration of a community-based music development academy, and put your music skills to good

South Africa Winter Music Festival Internship

South Africa : Mpumalanga

Work with local children and youth to develop themselves through music, and help put on a large music festival and songwriting competition in collaboration with Carnegie

Theater Volunteering in Kenya

Kenya : Nairobi

Work with talented theater artists who are using drama, dance, music, and acrobatics for education, social change, and development in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi. Experience...

Dance Volunteering in Kenya

Kenya : Nairobi

Work with talented dancers who are using drama, dance, music, and acrobatics for education, social change, and development in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi. Experience

Arts Administration Internship in Spain

Spain : Barcelona

Build your resume, gain international arts experience, and directly contribute to an arts company, all while being immersed in Spanish culture! By interning with a professional...

Technical Theater Internship in Spain

Spain : Barcelona

Build your portfolio, gain international arts experience, and directly contribute to a theater company, all while being immersed in Spanish culture! By interning with a professional...

Music Internship in Ghana

Ghana : Accra

Receive state-of-the-art training in drumming, Ghanaian xylophone, and many other instruments, as well as dance. You will be working and living at a musical arts center on...

Dance Internship in Ghana

Ghana : Accra

Receive state-of-the-art training in multiple West African dance forms, as well as drumming, dance, Ghanaian xylophone, and other instruments. You will be working and living...

Theater Internship in Spain

Spain : Barcelona

Intern with a theater company in Barcelona and gain international arts experience! You'll directly contribute to a Spanish performing arts group and build your resume, all...

Theater Administration Internship in England

England : London

Experience London's artistic passion with an internship at a theater company. You will gain insight into the day-to-day operation of a theater company, and be involved with...

Technical Theater Internship in England

England : London

London’s unbelievable opportunities for performing arts are recognized throughout the world. Round out your summer with this immersive experience and gain hands-on knowledge...

Music Administration Internship in England

England : London

Experience the artistic passion of London with an internship at a music company! You will contribute directly to the artistic life of a music company and gain insight into...

Dance Administration Internship in England

England : London

London’s great opportunities for performing arts are recognized throughout the world. Gain hands-on knowledge with this immersive experience to boost your resume and expand...

Dance Internship in Thailand - Bangkok City Ballet

Thailand : Bangkok

This internship offers participants a chance to refine their own dance skills by teaching them to others. During your time at Bangkok City Ballet (BCB), you will teach classes...

Theater Volunteering in the Galapagos Islands

Ecuador : Galapagos Islands

Take part in a remarkable experience and gain an understanding of international theater when you participate in a volunteering project while living on the amazing tropical...

Music Volunteering in the Galapagos Islands

Ecuador : Galapagos Islands

Add a remarkable opportunity to your resume and gain an intricate understanding of international music when you participate in a volunteering project in the Galapagos! You...

Dance Volunteering in the Galapagos Islands

Ecuador : Galapagos Islands

Take advantage of this incredible opportunity to grow as a dancer and gain perspective on international performance as you take part in an incredible volunteering project...

Music Semester in Ireland

Ireland : Limerick

Spend a semester surrounded by the flourishing Irish music scene and the beautiful green landscapes and flourishing Irish music scene of Limerick, Ireland. Focus on vocal...

Circus Arts (Theater) Volunteering in Costa Rica

Costa Rica : Rural Areas

Share your theater, dance, and/or circus expertise with at-risk youth in this unique volunteering program with a circus arts organization that empowers a community in Costa...

Circus Arts (Dance) Volunteering in Costa Rica

Costa Rica : Rural Areas

Share your dance, theater, and/or circus expertise with at-risk youth in this unique volunteering program with a circus arts organization that helps empower a community in...

Dance Volunteering in Costa Rica

Costa Rica : San Jose

Grow personally and artistically and make a difference in the lives of Costa Rican children as you share your dance and movement skills by volunteering teaching at a school...

Music Volunteering in Costa Rica

Costa Rica : Rural Areas

Spend your time living on Costa Rica’s breathtaking Pacific Coast and enrich your appreciation of the power of music, and impact local children by volunteering at a local...

Theater Semester in England

England : London

Study dramatic theory, performance studies, and theater history in the city where modern theater began. You’ll take diverse courses from prominent faculty at Roehampton...

Dance Semester in England

England : London

Learn new skills through intensive dance courses while being surrounded by one of the world’s most vibrant dance scenes. Grow as a performer and put yourself ahead of the...

Theater Administration Internship in Italy

Italy : Florence

Gain international theater experience and develop your theater skills in one of Italy’s most important arts centers and the capital of Tuscany. Take part in an internship...

Music Administration Internship in Italy

Italy : Florence

Take part in an internship in Florence, one of Italy's most important cultural centers and the capital of the region of Tuscany. Musical excellence is part of the very identity...

Dance Administration Internship in Italy

Italy : Florence

Gain an in depth understanding of how dance functions in an international context by learning about the dynamics of a performing arts group through your internship in Florence...

Dance Internship in Spain

Spain : Barcelona

Build your performance resume, gain international arts experience, and directly contribute to a dance company, all while being immersed in Spanish culture! Deepen your understanding...

Staff Interviews

  • Reynolds Whalen - Founder

    Reynolds Whalen - PAA Founder

    Reynolds was born in southern Georgia, USA, where as a small child he would crash his grandparents’ Bible studies by escaping from his bed, and bursting into the room in a onesie furiously beating a toy drum. Not much has changed. Reynolds has never stopped marching to the beat of his own drum, as evidenced by double majoring in Acting and African Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, prompting the predictable response from his parents’ friends “what are you going to do with that?”

    A person filming a documentary in the Mathare slum of Nairobi, Kenya.

    Following undergrad, Reynolds lived in Rwanda as a filmmaker for development organizations, then moved to NYC to teach for two years in the South Bronx with Teach for America. He completed a Masters in Education at Hunter College, then received a second graduate degree in African Studies from Indiana University. He now lives in Northampton, Massachusetts with his wife Julia (a professional costume designer) and their adorable dog Captain, who is the mascot of the PAA office.

    Armed with a passion for performing arts and a desire to provide opportunities for artists to explore cultural traditions and art from all over the world, Reynolds continues to “march to the beat of his own drum” and maintain programs that help individuals explore the performing arts on an global scale through study, volunteer, and internship opportunities abroad.

    Envisioning the future of PAA from the back of an elephant in Thailand.
    Envisioning the future of PAA from the back of an elephant in Thailand.

    What was the mindset behind starting an organization focused on music, dance, theater and film?

    I love this question because there are so many reasons for an organization like this to exist! First of all, as the world becomes more and more connected, it is important for performing artists to be aware of other performing traditions and techniques that can inform their craft. Like any other education abroad organization, we want our participants and those they meet to be transformed...but for us it doesn’t stop there. We want their art to be transformed as well. We believe that every performing artist should have an experience abroad, and that they will return from this experience producing art that is more interesting, beautiful, relevant, and exciting.

    Secondly, it is HARD for performing artists to go abroad without losing precious time fulfilling a long list of required classes and performing sequences. It’s really unfair, actually. I wanted to start a company offering courses abroad that are rigorous and aligned with the demanding sequences required to complete a performing arts degree.

    Thirdly, the performing arts are being cut out of school curricula throughout the world.  This is so so sad. We believe that every young person should have an education in the performing arts that will make them more confident in themselves, and give them constructive ways to express themselves. I wanted to start an organization that would send volunteers into schools as guest artists to bring the performing arts back into the classroom, and that is exactly what we are doing in places like the Galapagos, Costa Rica, Kenya, and more!

    A person overlooking a view of a sea.

    Charting the course for PAA's future.

    The last reason is purely practical. This is a tough field, man. The performing arts is arguably the most cutthroat industry you could enter. Having that international experience on your resume not only gives you a range of experiences and skills that will make you better at any job, it gives you a leg up over the hundreds of other people out there going for the same position you are and makes you more attractive to an employer. 

    A theater group in Kenya

    Hanging out with Haba na Haba, a theatre group that uses the arts for social change in Kenya.

    You won the Forum on Education Abroad’s Undergraduate Research Award for your documentary on performance art and social change in Kenya, what inspired you to create this piece? 

    As an undergraduate, I studied abroad at the Globe Theatre in London over the summer, then went straight to Kenya for a semester program. At the Globe, we learned about Shakespeare being a revolutionary in his time for taking traveling theatre onto the stage, and then in Kenya I was working with Theatre for Development groups who were taking theatre off the stage and back on the streets and into communities. These people were literally saving hundreds of lives through the incredible power of theatre to educate communities on important social issues like HIV/AIDS, child abuse, prostitution, drug abuse, child labor, and crime. That was a story I felt needed to be told.

    A group of people in costumes

    Impersonating the Queen of England for an office July 4th party in the Philippines! Costume by Reynolds' talented wife, Julia.

    As both an actor and singer, how have you been able to still incorporate your performance interests into your life as Founder and Director of PAA?

    Great question! Everyone who works for PAA has a performing arts background and I encourage every person to continue pursuing his or her creative endeavors with gusto! Until I moved recently, I was singing, playing guitar, tambourine, bongos, shaker, cowbell, and other creative percussion for a marvelous band called the 123s in Bloomington, Indiana. It was a total blast and if I could have moved the band here to Northampton, Massachusetts where we are currently located, I would have done it in a heartbeat! I’m also hoping to begin auditioning for some of the local theatres here once I get a bit more settled.

    You're working on a second graduate degree and continue to pursue your passions while running PAA. Do you have any advice for others in the performing arts arena to be able to support themselves while still pursuing their dreams?

    Actually, I’ve finished up that degree (minus submitting the final thesis), thank God!  My biggest piece of advice is to never let go of the things which bring you the most joy and energy. You can do a million things at once really well if you hold on to that life-giving passion (for me, it’s playing in a band, acting, or singing karaoke). On the flip side, you can fail miserably doing one easy task if you’re not tapping into your creative passions. The minute I stop being creative is the minute I fail at everything I do.

    Performing Arts Abroad runs study, internship, and volunteer abroad programs. Which of your programs is particularly innovative in its inclusion of arts related education? 

    Every one of them! And let me take this opportunity to announce that we are soon adding a fourth program type called “Training / Intensives” (or something like that).  These programs will be mostly short-term programs where you are training in your instrument, dance style, or performance style with masters in that discipline. For the most part, they will not carry an academic transcript because they will not be hosted by universities. Instead, these will be professional dance studios, conservatories, theatres, and music studios. We already have several awesome programs like this such as our West End Musical Theatre Training Program, our RADA Acting Intensive, and our Ghana Winter Break Music/Dance programs.

    But to answer the question, our study abroad programs are innovative because we offer the opportunity to take at least 75 percent of your course in your discipline, and usually that’s 100 percent. Our internships are unique because they are opportunities to get real-world experience in a profession where that is sometimes super hard to nail down, especially while you’re in school. Our volunteer programs are employing groundbreaking tactics for using music, dance, theater, and film for education, social change, and development. I just finished an 80-page thesis about why the performing arts are uniquely situated to bring about huge positive changes in society, especially in poverty-stricken condensed urban communities. Trust me, this stuff is changing lives all over the world every day. Talk about innovative!

    A theatre group in St. Louis

    Reynolds with Haba na Haba in St. Louis during an exchange program with Washington University.

    You served with Teach for America in the South Bronx, New York for two years. Did this experience influence the creation of any of PAA’s programs?

    In the Bronx, I used a drum to teach the alphabet to first graders every day. We told stories, chanted, sang, and danced our way through those years of education, and those kids were some of the smartest kids in the building. Every one of our volunteer programs has a little piece of inspiration from David, Sincere, Emmanuela, Kevin, Prince, Tirzah, Makeda, and all of my students from those two years.

    Your programs focus on cultivating a greater understanding of diversity through the arts, how do you go about incorporating theater, music, dance, and film performance into your program structure?

    An artist with kids in Rwanda.

    Chicken goggles in Rwanda!

    Every single culture has its own way of using performance to capture what it means to be human. I believe that the performing arts are the perfect window into other societies, and that there is no better way to understand diversity than to go right to the core of the human experience by acting it, singing it, dancing it, and capturing it on film for others to experience. Art is at the center of everything we do at PAA and our programs are all structured around the simple idea that performance has the capacity to transform both our participants and the people they meet and collaborate with abroad.

    The majority of your time overseas has been spent in a variety of African nations, if you were to head overseas tomorrow, where would you visit first?

    I’ve traveled on every continent except Australia and Antarctica, so I’d love a trip to Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand that ends with a ship to Antarctica.

  • Ben Abbott - Marketing & Programs Coordinator

    Though Performing Arts Abroad’s Marketing and Programs Coordinator, Ben is an actor and playwright at heart! He hails from San Luis Obispo, California, and trained at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA) and graduated with honors from UC Berkeley with a BA in Theater and Performance Studies. Ben has performed professionally around the country in Shakespeare festivals, children’s theater, and regional repertory theaters. Ben was drawn to work for Performing Arts Abroad because it integrated his two passions, travel and performing arts, so he thoroughly enjoys being able to match new participants with programs that perfectly match their interests too.

    Eating a Berliner in Berlin

    Ben eating a Berliner in Berlin!

    You’re an actor and playwright, how exactly did you become connected to Performing Arts Abroad (PAA)?

    The world of Theatre is very small and very tangled. I got connected to PAA through Director Reynolds Whalen while our wives were going to school together at Indiana University. They were the two Costume Design MFA students in their year, so we were all very close.  Reynolds and I have been good friends from the start (the joke has always been that we look unnervingly similar. One year for Halloween we dressed up as twins and I would take his place in a class about 10 minutes in. When he would walk back in, the double takes were hilarious.) Anyway, Reynolds was in need of an intern who had experience in both performing arts and living abroad, and I was available to work a day job.  We already knew we worked well together, and I’m still here with an actual title now, so I guess we were right.

    What does your day-to-day look like as PAA’s Marketing and Program Coordinator?

    Sometimes it involves traveling to college campuses or theatre companies to pitch PAA to faculty, students, and artists, but the majority of my time is spent online. In addition to coordinating marketing specials and campaigns I’m also a program advisor, so I spend a lot of time talking to potential applicants, answering questions, and helping them find the program that best fits their needs and interests. Mostly I just want everyone to apply! I know it’s just the best thing they can do, and I just have to convince them to take the plunge and do it! I also run PAA’s social media channels, which means I spend a slightly embarrassing amount of time online finding funny and cool things to post on Facebook, etc. It’s all in service of my greater responsibility, which is essentially to help convey the vibe of what PAA is, what it stands for, and what kind of people work for it. Basically, my job is to help express our “brand.”

    What sets PAA’s programs apart from others? 

    The thing that sets us apart is our complete focus on the performing arts. Our programs are personalized and customized to make sure they’re right for the participant, and I don’t know another company that works so hard to create training opportunities and intensives for performing artists. I think one of the biggest advantages we have is that everyone who works for PAA is also a performing artist. So at every level—from the designing of the programs to helping you pick the right one--you’ve got people who understand what you want and need because we’re in the same field, and we were in the same classes you’re taking. This is especially useful because all of our programs are customized to your specific needs. It helps when the person doing the customizing has been in your shoes.

    What types of applicants are the best fit for a PAA program?

    In my acting conservatory, we were trained to say “yes, and!” That more than anything is what it takes—on stage and abroad. To do these programs you’ve got to be passionate about your art, and you’ve got to have that desire to launch out into the world to share it. Applicants also need to be not just open, but hungry to expand their horizons and worldviews. This experience is going to change them as artists, and they’ve got to be ready and excited to embrace that.

    In your role, how do you help prepare PAA participants for their experiences abroad?

    Our applicants are impressively self-selecting. I am constantly impressed by the people we send on our programs. I’m not involved with the pre-departure orientation or that kind of thing, but my job is to help people find the program that’s the best fit for them, which in my opinion is more than half the battle. 

    You lived in Argentina for two years, do you foresee any new PAA programs focused on that area?

    I hope so! I have to admit that when we added a program in Brazil I thought, “Dang!  So close!” Argentina isn’t like anywhere else in the region, and it has an arts culture that will surprise you. I know it’s on the radar, but it’s an incredibly long and involved process to add a new country and program. We have extremely high standards for people we partner with and it takes time to build a relationship and program that’s up to snuff, so I just have to be patient.  But seriously, can you imagine a Tango internship in Buenos Aires? When it happens it will be amazing.

    What is the most fulfilling aspect of your role with PAA?

    I think it’s the faces of people I talk to when it actually dawns on them how perfect we are for them. It’s almost like they can’t believe we actually exist, but when they really understand the possibilities it’s an infectious giddiness.