Utah Tech University Students Study Abroad in Florence, Italy

By Jake Harber

This summer, eight Utah Tech students consisting of seven dancers and one photographer departed on a Study Abroad opportunity to Florence, Italy. In this three-week intensive dance study, students are housed together and are immersed in a rigorous schedule of three to four classes every weekday learning contemporary, jazz funk, ballet, and progressive ballet technique.

Photo courtesy of Sabra Palmer

The students that participated were Nova Pinter, Abbie Sparks, Alexis Christensen, Megan Murphy, Rylee Timm, Falynn Mackey, Adeline Torres, and Sabra Palmer, who attended the trip as a photographer.

This was the third year that the program has taken place, with the first year being 2019 and the second in 2022. This was also the first year a photography student has participated in the opportunity, capturing the dance talents of her fellow students with a backdrop of Italy.

“There’s a sense of empowerment and self-confidence, both as a person and as a dance artist, that grows from living and exploring in such a deeply historic and artistic place such as Florence,” said Jenny Mair, faculty leader of the Florence Study Abroad Program. “There’s so much creative energy in Florence and having the opportunity to create, dance, and perform there envelopes whole experience.”

Outside of their classes, students had time to explore and familiarize themselves with the foreign country. One of the excursions the group took was to Scarperia e San Piero, a municipality just northeast of Florence. There, the dancers performed at the opening of a contemporary museum called Spazio Brizzolari, where they also had the unique opportunity to promenade throughout the museum wearing masks that were given to them. Several of the dancers created solos and Mair also contributed her own piece for the museum’s opening.

As part of researching and “becoming better artists, choreographers, and people,” as Mair put it, the students had the chance to see historical landmarks such as castles, the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Michelangelo’s statue of David, and the Boboli Gardens.

Mair, who participated in this experience as a graduate student in 2014, began teaching at Utah Tech University and had the opportunity to teach at a workshop in Italy in 2018 where she forged a connection with Liliana Candotti, the program director in Italy for over 15 years. Their collaboration eventually led to the establishment of the Florence Study Abroad Program at Utah Tech University.

Photo courtesy of Sabra Palmer

The Florence Dance Study Abroad Program is open to any student dancer at UT, regardless of their major. The course can be taken for credit, and auditions are held each fall. To learn more about Utah Tech’s Study Abroad Program, please click here.