Program Overview

Use your dance abilities to engage communities in Quito by exploring rich dance traditions of Ecuador and the Andes region or sharing your knowledge with special needs youth and adults. We work with two main dance organizations in Quito. One is focused on preserving and broadcasting Andean culture through ethno-contemporary and pre-Hispanic choreographic interpretations. The other focuses on providing services to youth and adults with special needs and using the arts for therapeutic and educational purposes. Volunteers live with homestay families and receive 2 meals a day, and a basic level of Spanish is strongly recommended.

Volunteer placement requires at least ten hours a week for a minimum of two weeks. For more specific information about a typical day on this program, please see the “Host Group” tab.

“I was extremely pleased to be able to use dance in working with people with disabilities in Quito. The one-on-one classes were invaluable to my learning and cultural immersion. My family was welcoming and respectful. I was appreciative to have times on the weekends to travel around the country. All in all, this program was great. I felt safe, supported and that I had a remarkably unique experience unattainable without PAA.”

Performing Arts Points of Interest

Ecuadorian Chamber Ballet

The Ecuadorian Chamber Ballet was created by six dancers specializing in classical and neoclassical dance in 1980. The ensemble sparked the development of the artistic movement in Ecuador as their professionalism grew. The company current offers contemporary, metropolitan, and urban styles of ballet.

National Folkloric Ballet Jacchigua

The National Folkloric Ballet Jacchigua is an event held every Wednesday evening at the Theater Demetiro Aguilera Malta. This 3-hour performance highlights Ecuadorian history through dance and music. The word “jacchigua” derives from the quichua language which meant the social gathering of food, drink, dance, and music that landlords would organize for their workers after harvesting grain throughout the day.

National Dance Group

The National Dance Group, known as the Frente Nacional de Danza, houses a theatre and offers dance classes.

PAA Home Base

About the Location

Ecuador is one of those destinations where you can experience natural beauty, rich history, and diverse and vibrant cultures in one small area. Sitting on the Equator in the upper corner of South America, much of the country remains untouched by surveyors and developers. Performing arts has been central to Ecuadorian life for centuries, telling stories of the people, their struggles, and their successes. The capital city Quito is home to the several dance companies that specialize in folkloric dance, the Teatro Nacional, a national symphony, and many other notable performing arts groups. Ecuador is within a territory of 120,000 square miles where one can travel from sea level to 12,000 feet of altitude within a six-hour drive, visit a fishing town and see a highland village all in the same day.


You will stay with a host family in a middle class home located in lovely neighborhoods throughout the city with your own private room in most cases, depending on availability. We work with many families in Quito, all of whom are carefully vetted based on interviews, background checks, family income level, safety of the area where they live, and previous experience hosting international visitors. In addition to building relationships with your family, you will receive breakfast and dinner daily, and laundry service once per week while living in your home stay. Many interns create lasting relationships with their homestay families, and stay in touch long after the program ends.


Most homestays have multiple volunteers staying with them at a time, and most volunteers have their own private room during the program unless you are traveling with a friend or family member and request to stay in the same room. In the case of shared rooms, your roommate will be another participant of the same sex around the same age. The participants on our program range widely in age, but the most common age group is between 18 and 25. In the fall and spring, PAA usually has between 1 and 5 participants onsite at one time who join with a handful of other volunteers and interns in collaboration with our onsite partners. The summer brings closer to ten PAA volunteers joining another couple of dozen volunteers and interns in other fields.

A Day in the Life

The Participant Experience

From the moment you step off the plane, you will be surrounded by the beauty of the landscape and people of Ecuador. Your sense of time will likely change as you adjust to a slower pace of life and a culture that takes more time to greet each other and express genuine interest in how the day is going. Our EcuaPals program will connect you with a local student who shares interests with you, and you will meet up with that person regularly during your time during the country to learn each other’s language and culture.

In your volunteer placement, you will join a second family of artists seeking to use dance to better the community, and raise awareness both locally and globally of the unique and vibrant culture that infuses every aspect of life in Quito. Your weekends will be free for exploring the vast array of landscapes throughout the country, and even a trip to the Galapagos Islands if you choose. Throughout it all, our friendly staff will support you in whatever way you need, and encourage the inevitable transformation you will experience, both personally and in your artistic pursuits.

On Arrival

You will book a flight to arrive in Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) on a Friday. Our on-site staff will meet you at the airport with a sign that has your name on it, and will take you to a hostel in the nicest part of Quito where you will stay with other volunteers who have just arrived for the first four nights of the program to have your own private space for adjusting to the crazy altitude! You will be given a quick orientation to your hostel and a tour of the neighborhood, then be given time to unpack, settle in, rest, and explore the immediate area with other volunteers for the rest of the day.

The following morning, a member of our on-site staff will pick you up at the hostel and do a full-day orientation, including a full tour of Quito and a cultural lunch. On Sunday, you will participate in a full-day excursion, usually to a volcano and crater lake, huge traditional crafts market, or a cloud forest with a visit to an organic chocolate factory. Monday will be a final day of engaging with the community and reflecting on adjusting to the new culture with our staff, and on Tuesday morning you will check out of your hostel and be taken to your homestay family where you will be staying the rest of your time in Ecuador. Tuesday is also the day you will begin working with your volunteer placement.

A Typical Day

After the weekend, you will be accompanied to your volunteer placement by a member of our on-site staff, where you will meet your supervisor and review your hours and responsibilities. From that point forward, you will travel to and from your placement every day, and take one-on-one Spanish classes with a private tutor 6 hours per week (usually 2 hours per day 3 days per week). Every week, usually on Wednesdays, we host a cultural activity which you will be invited to join along with other participants who are there at the same time as you.

On your final day in Ecuador you will have a personal meeting over coffee with our Site Director to debrief about your experience, and will stay the final night in a hostel before being driven to the airport for your departure.

Host Group

On this program, dancers will be placed with one of several groups. Two of our primary placements are described here:

Placement One

We also work with a project connected to a Foundation with 20 years of experience providing care to children and young people who have some kind of disability. They have determined different programs according to the skills and abilities of their students and prospective students. One of these is an art program, which provides stimulation and dance education for children and young adults. Volunteers will be able to assist with academic programs, dance therapy, and day care programming.

Placement Two

This non-profit cultural dance and arts organization was created in 1992 and is a group that interprets traditional manifestations of Ecuador and the Andes through creative choreography. Their work reflects ethno-contemporary content and pre-Hispanic interpretations. They develop cultural and social projects that include training, production and creation of performance pieces. Members of this organization believe that art can grow responsibly from the assessment, development and dissemination of their cultural traditions. They offer a friendly environment, and the integration into their internal activities such as classes, rehearsals, workshops, ceremonies and ancestral cultural production. Volunteers will have the opportunity to learn cultural dance, participate in performances and festivals, and help the group broadcast themselves to local and foreign publics.

The group rehearses Monday to Friday mornings starting around 8:00 a.m., and does performances every Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday evening in the La Ronda neighborhood, which is an unusual melting pot of both locals and tourists in a beautiful traditional part of Quito. There are usually 20-30 people involved, and they often rent a historic house that also has restaurants operating out of it.

Support Staff

Support Staff

Support Staff



“The family I stayed with for the 3 months were wonderful and very patient with me and my Spanish. My placement was great; I was doing music with special needs which is exactly what i’d wanted to do. I also got to see some amazing places in Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands and the Rainforest. I had a really great 3 months and I wish I could go back and do it again!”

“Working with the students in Ecuador through PAA was incredible. My spanish wasn’t the best, and their English wasn’t great either, but through music we could communicate and grow.”

“I truly believe my experience in Ecuador not only gave me life-long friends and memories, but it also gave me a much clearer picture of what I wanted to do and a huge boost into my career.”

From the blog


Zoe Geiger: Dispatches from Ecuador

Zoe Geiger was a dance intern in Ecuador from January to March, 2017.  While there she kept a blog that is frankly one of the best we’ve ever seen from a participant.  If you want to know more about the…

Taking the Plunge

I chose to volunteer in Ecuador simply because I had never been to South America before. I had no idea what to expect about the culture or my experience abroad. Driving to the airport as the sun rose on a…

Memories That I Will Cherish Forever, stories from Quito

Check out Chris’ life changing adventure in Quito, Ecuador as a music intern (and his amazing pictures!) My time spent in Ecuador turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life! Everything from interacting with the people…

Quito, Ecuador -The Perfect Destination for an Indecisive Traveler

Hola! My name is Raine and I volunteer as an art therapist in Quito, Ecuador with Performing Arts Abroad. Ecuador is a stunning location full of various climates and cultural diversity, largely determined by the altitude. Ecuador’s three continental regions: La Sierra…

How it Works

The information on this page provides details for a sample group program. Note that every group is different, and we will work with you to cater the experience to your group. To connect with us and begin organizing a program for your group, please follow the “Get Started’ button below and submit an initial questionnaire. We will then contact you to set up a discovery call where we can go into more detail about your group’s needs and what we can offer.

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