Joel and Clara Marasigan

Living the Italian Dream: Part I – Studio Danze Baricchi


The Italian countryside of La Vecchia.

The Italian countryside of La Vecchia.

Oh the heat!  Having a West-facing apartment, Joel and I have been just baking at our place for the past two days!  It reminds me of those hot Italian summers when we lived in Italy.  I remember it being so unbearably hot in the studio (cuz it didn’t have air conditioning) that we’d go and practice from 11pm to 2am in the morning! Those were crazy days, but when you’re insanely neurotic about dancing (as we are), you do anything to improve!

Italy was the absolute best experience ever!  For those of you who don’t know, Joel and I lived in a small town in Italy, training exclusively with World Champions, Luca & Loraine Baricchi, for a full year.  We lived in this tiny little town called Casina, which has a population of about 4,000 and is not even visible on most maps.  It’s about an hour from Bologna and very close to Reggio Emilia, where the cheese Parmesano Reggiano is from.  Being such a small town in the middle of nowhere, no one speaks English.  So needless to say, Joel and I (with our Asian eyes and broken Italian) stood out like sore thumbs!

Life in small town Italy was very different from living in Vancouver.  We were secluded from everything, so all we did was work and dance.  Luca & Loraine arranged for us to rent an apartment and get a roommate to keep the costs down; they let us work for them at the studio and at their home; they arranged for their brother-in-law, Scott Montague, to rent us his car, and most importantly, they gave us the keys to their studio!  We could practice anytime, day or night, which was a dream come true!  Not only is it rare to have access to a space that you can practice in anytime, but one that is the most beautiful studio that you’ve ever seen?  Yippee!!!  We were in heaven (even when scrubbing toilets and cleaning floors)!

Luca and Loraine in their studio, Studio Danze Baricchi

Luca and Loraine in their studio, Studio Danze Baricchi

Luca & Loraine’s studio, Studio Danze Baricchi, is the most beautiful and inspiring place to dance!  It was originally an old movie theatre, built entirely of stone, that was transformed into the most gorgeous and regal dance studio with an air of elegance poured into every last detail.  Oh, and the floor is just indescribable!  It is the most buttery soft floor that you could ever imagine.  Just being there surrounded by utter class and elegance, you could not help but dance better!  (As you can see in the Dance Bible DVD).

The other night, after Joel and I held our regular Wednesday night PEAK competitor training session, a bunch of us went out for eats afterward.  It was great fun, as we shared lots of laughs with our students, which once again reminded me of some of the good times we had in Italy.

On many occasions, after the supervised practice session in the evenings, Luca & Loraine would take all their students out to the local Pizzeria or Ristorante.  We’d have a blast!  If you’ve ever been to Italy, you’ll know that Italians really love their food!  We’d be sitting there for hours, often with course after course coming to the table: primo piatti, secondo piatti, terzo piatti, etc…  I think our stomachs took a beating, not only with tonnes of food, but also tonnes of laughs!  It was so great to get to know all the International dancers who traveled far and wide to come and learn from our great Masters.

Out for drinks in Italy

Out for drinks in Casina

One of the biggest things that bonded us students together was not only our love and passion for dance, but our complete and utter admiration for Luca & Loraine.  After all, since Studio Danze Baricchi was in the middle of nowhere, only the seriously crazy dancers would fly into Milano and drive 3 hours to a place where there was nothing else to do but dance.  Of course, none of them were as ‘insanely neurotic’ as ourselves, to actually drop everything and live there!  But we had to… it was our destiny.  Living in Italy and training full-time with Luca & Loraine was definitely a dream come true.

Stay tuned for Part II of ‘Living the Italian Dream’…

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