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Manila to London

Frances Marinay is a dancer from the Philippines studying on PAA’s semester program in England for a full year.  She is just finishing up her spring semester and will enroll again in the fall.  Here is what she has to say about her experience so far…

The Philippines, or Manila in particular, is considered a melting pot. However, seeing and being a part of London has opened me up to a wider variety of people and culture. London is both rich in culture and vibrant in urban life—the best of both worlds. As a history geek, it has been amazing to visit all of these museums and historic spots that I was only learning about from high school books and teachers. The city also boasts of a vast array of international and local cuisine. Aside from the hundreds of restaurants and bars scattered around the city, there are always food markets going on every day. I always see to it that I get to try new food every now and then especially those that are not usually found back home. Things that were once opulent are now deemed ordinary and available  within my reach.

But most of all, London has offered me opportunities in the world of dance. Back home, most of us have a limited education when it comes to dance. There are different perceptions when it comes to different dance genres and more often than not, contemporary dance is associated to splits and tutus, both of which are rather ballet-related.  I actually never thought that I would be able to get into the program because I don’t really have a dance background per se, I was active in the dance events in school and became a hip hop dancer in the university but as much as formal training is concerned, I didn’t have much.


I took Cunningham and Improv classes during my PAA semester last term and I must say that it was such a great experience. My mind was opened up to what those were really about in their essence and I was able to appreciate dance like never before. The two modules challenged my creativity and technical skills, yet left me inspired and more willing to work my way to become a better dancer. The PAA dance programme in Roehampton focuses on one’s journey rather than the output itself—a very personal and organic approach that is something that’s different from the dance scene in the Philippines. UK, in general, has a very active and engaging dance industry that opens doors to dancers in all levels. In my five months of stay, I have already taken part in classes and auditions for Lukas MacFarlane, Dax O’Callaghan and James Robinson.

There is still so much more to learn and discover and I’m glad that I’m staying for the rest of the year. This entire experience is an opportunity for me to become a better dancer. I am very thankful that I am able to pursue my passions in dance, food and travel with Performing Arts Abroad.

Written by Frances Marinay
PAA Dance semester student in England for a full year program

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