Dancer Mickela Mallozzi, who started her Bare Feet blog to live her dream of traveling the world and learning other cultures through tradition and art, has taken her concept a big dance step further.
The classically-trained, folk dance-inspired Mallozzi, who has performed on TV shows including Sesame Street, The Doctor Oz Show and The Today Show and was formerly an assistant to metal band Slipknot, has been running The Bare Feet Webseries as an extension of Bare Feet on her own YouTube channel since last April. She has now pacted with media company Big Frame, which has added it to its YouTube network representing such online talent as MysteryGuitarMan, Destorm, Julian Smith, DaveDays, WhatsUpElle and Tay Zonday.
“We have never seen a series like it before,” says Big Frame co-founder/president Sarah Penna. “With Bare Feet, you experience firsthand how music and dance are so important in the destinations to where Mickela travels, and along with that, the true cultures of the local people shine through.”
Driven by the slogan “Experiencing the world, one dance at a time!,” Mallozzi had created her Bare Feet travel/culture blog to explore the different ways people celebrate together around the world, focusing on dance, music and traditional culture.
“My two passions are dancing and travel,” says Mallozzi. “I travel and dance and love doing it anywhere.”
The Bare Feet Webseries has furthered this mission via a travel-and-dance online travel show likened to a cross between So You Think You Can Dance and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, with initial episodes featuring host/producer Mallozzi clogging in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, performing in the 60th Anniversary Carnival on the island of St. Thomas and learning the traditional bomba y plena rhythms in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Big Frame’s addition of Mallozzi’s series to its roster commenced last week with the Jan. 24 premiere of Bare Feet In Italy. In the series premiere, Mallozzi took a personal journey back to her family’s hometown of Minturno, Italy to discover her roots through the local dance and music during La Sagra Delle Regne, the town’s annual wheat harvest festival.
The six weekly Bare Feet In Italy episodes air Thursdays on the Bare Feet YouTube channel and involve Mallozzi’s exploration of southern Italian living. They include preparations for the harvest festival; Mallozzi’s reherasals with I Giullari, the oldest traditional dance group in town, and her performance in costume with the group in the piazza in front of thousands of people at the feast’s finale; and a bonus cooking lesson from her grandmother, Nonna Pina.
Mallozzi now looks to go to Argentina, Quebec, Dublin and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. for upcoming Bare Feet webisodes.
Previous trips for her Bare Feet blog—which has been up since December, 2010—and web series have been sponsored by the likes of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The World Music Institute, Barilla Pasta, Travel + Leisure Magazine, Comune di Minturno and La Luna Dance Center in Ancona, Italy.
At a Bare Feet In Italy launch party last week at Casa Italiana Zarilli-Marimó in Manhattan, Mallozzi announced a new partnership with two boutique tour companies, Walks of Italy and Open Sky Expeditions, both of which are offering branded Bare Feet Tours this year based on current episodes of the series: A Puerto Rico Bare Feet Tour being prepared with Open Sky Expeditions will engage tourists in experiencing the island through salsa, bomba, plena and rumba. The Bare Feet Tour with Walks of Italy will offer a day tour in the Puglia region, with workshops on the area’s traditional la pizzica dance and a tour of the historic city of Bari, where the tourists can dance la pizzica with the locals.
At the launch party, Walks of Italy co-owner Stephen Oddo noted that the Bare Feet Tours model jibes with the travel trend toward “cultural immersion versus monument hopping.”
“We show a part of culture people don’t even know exists,” concludes Mallozzi. “This was how the Bare Feet idea started years ago: It was initially a tour idea, much like wine tours, culinary tours, and bike tours. I want to bring the Bare Feet concept back to its roots and inspire viewers of the Bare Feet series to go out and experience the dance for themselves!”
One dance at a time.
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