Explore the percussion and dance of Cuba in an immersive summer program packed with workshops, lessons, tours of historic sites, trips to the beach and Cuba’s historic tobacco plantations, and much more. Throughout the nine days on the program, you will work toward a final collaborative performance with the group and the teachers you will train with during the week.
For a complete tentative itinerary, please click here.
“Performing Arts Abroad (PAA) is a wonderful organization that allows you to gain valuable work experience, contribute to a new community, develop lasting relationships, travel and (in my case) learn a new language. PAA creates a comfortable experience abroad with their assistance and support.”
Performing Arts Points of Interest
PAA Home Base
Our headquarters in Havana is the city itself! Trainings happen in a variety of studios and venues throughout the city, and you will attend a number of open-air performances on the streets and in courtyards and arts markets. You will stay in Casas Particulares (Cuban homestays), and group meetings will happen in hotel lobbies, cafes, and other public spaces.
About the Location
Cuba is a Caribbean island nation with sugar-white beaches and dotted with tobacco fields, which are instrumental in producing the country’s legendary cigars. The capital, Havana, is lined with pastel houses, 1950s-era cars and Spanish-colonial architecture in the 16th-century city center, Old Havana. Music and dance are embedded in the daily life of Cuba. It’s difficult to go far without running into a rumba or other percussion performance happening out in the public for anyone to see and join.
You will be staying with other Performing Arts Abroad participants in double occupancy housing in Havana’s Casas Particulares, which are official homestays arranged by the government. Breakfast and dinner will be provided daily by your homestay family.
You will share a room with another PAA participant of the same sex in your homestay, which will likely be hosting several other international guests in other double rooms. Minimum enrollment for this program is ten participants, so we will be using several Casas Particulares in the same neighborhood.
A Day in the Life
The Participant Experience
You wake to the smell of your homestay hosts cooking up a delicious breakfast of sliced papaya, orange, pineapple, and tomatoes, fresh orange juice, thick country-style ham, bread, honey, and fried eggs. After fueling for the day, you head out for a classic-car tour of Havana. With the top down, the wind whips through your hair and you enjoy the salty breeze from the ocean on your face. At lunchtime, you weave through the funky art crowding the streets of the iconic Afro-Cuban neighborhood Callejon, as you make your way to the weekly rhumba where a range of musicians and dancers pound out energetic frenetic beats and movements. Some of these performers are your instructors as you train daily in Latin rhythms and prepare for your final performance and group dinner…
Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to train in Cuban percussion and dance with professionals in Havana, complete with a beach day, excursion to the beautiful town of Vinales in Western Cuba, and much more!
You will book a flight to Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL), where you will meet the PAA group leader, and join a group flight to Cuba, which we include as part of the program. In Havana, you will be met by our site director at the airport, then taken to your Casa Particulares to settle in (these are official government-approved homestays). That night, the group will enjoy a welcome dinner together and an orientation.
A Typical Day
For the rest of your time in Cuba, you will take classes in Cuban percussion and dance, tour historic sites, see shows, have a day at the beach, travel to Western Cuba to visit the beautiful town of Vinales, and collaborate on a final performance.
For a complete tentative itinerary, please click here.
During your time in Cuba, you will be supported by our Site Director Erica and a PAA Group Leader who will accompany you on all excursions, training, and activities. Erica has been traveling to Cuba regularly since 1995, and has many professional contacts in the local music and dance scene. Your instruction will not be in a classroom at a university, but rather all throughout the city in studios, performance halls, conference rooms, and more.
Christian is the primary PAA contact for all participants once they have applied to their programs. He processes applications, conducts applicant interviews, communicates with overseas partners regarding acceptance decisions, orchestrates all pre-departure preparation, supports participants while they are on their programs, and oversees re-entry counseling as he ushers them into joining the ranks of our fabulous PAA alumni.
Christian has been a musician for most of his life. He began performing at a young age on the trumpet in his school’s concert and jazz bands, as well as playing bass guitar in various bands throughout high school and college. Most recently, he has taken up the drums, collaborating with a longtime friend on different projects. His travels have taken him to almost all of the Caribbean, various countries in Europe, and Lyon, France where he lived for three months. His favorite city so far has been Budapest, Hungary, and his favorite experiences were scootering around the countryside in France, and exploring the neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince.
Erin advises everyone who expresses interest in PAA’s programs. She responds to e-mails, answers questions submitted in online forms, makes and receives phone calls about our programs, and communicates with those who begin an application.
Erin Hardee Patterson earned a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music, and her Master’s in Music Therapy from Florida State University. Her professional adventures as a cellist, singer songwriter, board-certified music therapist, event coordinator, admissions professional, project manager, and newly trained birth doula have helped her to live all over the United States – from her home state of Virginia, to New Orleans and Maine, to Tallahassee and Vegas (to name just a few!). In addition to her US travels, a ferocious case of wanderlust inspired Erin to travel to The Netherlands, Canada, Germany, France, and Belgium. (The wanderlust is no joke – this bio was written on a plane!). She enjoys practicing her conversational French and American Sign Language, and has aspirations of one day carrying on conversations in Spanish (hopefully on a beautiful balcony in Spain). Erin is a new transplant to the Northampton, MA area with her firefighter/paramedic spouse Max, their dog Eleanor, and 3 very fat house cats. She is passionate about tiny humans, music, yoga, beautiful bodies of water, succulents, two steppin’, empowering families to have joyous, satisfying births, and being a smiley muppet.
Cuba Site Director
Erica supports all participants on our Cuba programs, acting as the main point of contact throughout their stay in the country. She coordinates airport pickup, arranges housing, leads cultural excursions, and manages the 24-hour onsite emergency phone.
Since 1995, Erica Bowen – nutritionist, certified 2,000 hour Purna Yoga instructor and professional dancer/choreographer – has traveled to Cuba as an artist, researcher, and cultural delegate. Her passion for art and wellness led to her to establish a movement project in Los Angeles in 2009, and continue her work through community events, performances, workshops, lectures, blogs, mentoring and leading cultural exchanges.
“The in-country staff were incredibly friendly and helpful and supportive. Just great!”
“It was amazing to meet people from all around the world that share with me passions and dreams. This goes over any cultural difference. The city was great and the classes very interesting and useful, I hope to have the chance to do another program like this again!”
“I had a great time while studying abroad. I learned so much. I would honestly do it again if given the opportunity. I met a lot of amazing people and I hope that what I learned serves me well in the future.”
|Session||Application Deadline||Start Date||End Date|
|Summer 2018||Feb 15 2018||Jun 09 2018||Jun 17 2018|
Important Summer 2018 Dates
|Event||Start Date||End Date|
Apply today — How the process works
Submit a simple online application
Schedule a live video interview with a Program Coordinator
Upload program specific materials to an online portal
Receive your aceptance decision and begin your journey!
How the process works
To apply, click the “Apply Now” button on this page. You will fill out a simple initial application online and pay a deposit that is refundable if you are not accepted. Otherwise, this deposit will be applied toward your overall program cost (not an additional fee). We will review your initial application and contact you within a few days to let you know if we are inviting you to the final step. At that point, we will open an online portal for you and ask you to upload the following materials:
- Resume / CV
- Your availability in U.S. Eastern Time for a 30 minute video interview with your Program Coordinator.
- Be clear in your interview about your goals for the program. We work hard to prepare your hosts and give them the chance to design an experience that is customized to you as much as possible. To do this, we need a clear picture of who you are and what you want out of your time in Cuba (and don’t want!).
- The Skype interviews are our first face-to-face impression of you. Show up on time, dress well, and be personable.
Participants must be 18 or over the day they begin the program.
GPA / Student Status
There is no GPA requirement for this program, students and non-students are welcome to apply.
There is no language requirement for this program, although we recommend learning as much Spanish as possible in order to communicate more easily with locals. There will be two English-speaking PAA group leaders accompanying the group at all times.
We give preference to applicants with at least one year of music or dance experience, although all are welcome to apply.
We are looking for open-minded, flexible applicants who can clearly convey their passion for music and/or dance, and an acute interest in international travel and exposure to new ideas.