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My first Artist Residency as a young performer with Down Syndrome

By Angela Bettoni


I was selected to be one of the resident artists in Venice with Perypezye Urbane as part of the Professional Media Presence project.

This was my very first artist residency. As a young performer with Down Syndrome this really meant a lot to me. I have always wanted to do a mixed-ability performance to a series of monologues that I had written based on my own experiences as a performer and young person with Down Syndrome. At first, I was going to do a solo performance but then as I always had in mind to do a mixed-ability duet, the organisers of Perypezye Urbane agreed to let me bring another dancer and choreographer with me. I used the money for the residency for all three of us to go and create and explore together.

The work

During the residency I worked on a mixed-ability dance performance choreographed by Rachel Calleja and dancer, Niels Plotard while Giovanni Sabelli Fioretti from Perypezye Urbane took on the role of dramaturg for the project. This performance is based on my own experiences on how I navigate life and the stage with Down Syndrome from a series of monologues that I have written. The mixed-ability dance performance is about the quest of being seen as fully capable human being. This residency really gave me the chance to explore and analyse my monologues and experiment with how I really wanted to translate them into movement.

The Journey

The process of this residency has also been a process of self-discovery for me, and I could not have done it without my amazing team who supported, encouraged, motivated, challenged and empowered me. I am really glad I had my choreographer, Rachel, dramaturg, Giovanni and my dance partner Niels on this very intimate and personal journey with me. The openness, the sensitivity and the humanity that they all brought is something that was extremely valuable and special for both the process and for my own growth and journey.

The working environment when we were in the studios was really inclusive. It was a space where I felt safe, valued and celebrated for who I really am.

Lessons in life

The residency also taught me very important life lessons for my daily life. As I was sharing an apartment for two weeks with Rachel and Niels I learnt some valuable independent living skills. For example: living in a shared house, helping in the kitchen, helping in carrying the shopping and decision making. With the encouragement, empowerment and support from Rachel and Niels, it really helped to boost my self-confidence in living independently.

Here are few extracts from my journal that I was keeping during my residency:

“We started off by diving into the monologues and identified the monologues that are the most important for me and then we really analysed the monologues, the meanings behind it, my personal stories and my lived experiences. I have never ever experienced being so free and happy to share myself and speak about things that I never tell anybody else. It was liberating and I loved it.”Extract from Angela’s personal journal: 3rd June 2024

“They really brought out the best in me. Like when Giovanni liked the way I moved on the floor, he told me to explore how an octopus moves, how they hide and reveal themselves, when I bought that element in, I could really bring in and explore my flexibility (because of Down Syndrome)”Extract from Angela’s personal journal: 3rd June 2024

“I have had the best weekend that I always wanted and dreamt of. Dancing in the studio till the evening light seeps in on Saturday and yesterday spending a whole day till midnight with people who are good for my soul and make me so, so alive in the magical land of Venice.”Extract from Angela’s personal journal: 10th June 2024

“I have gone on the same evolution as the performance during the residency, from being unseen to be finally seen for who I truly am and it feels AMAZING.”Extract from Angela’s personal journal:14th June 2024


Thank you´s

I want to say a huge thank you to Perypezye Urbane, Prisms Malta and the Professional Media Presence Project for giving me a platform where I can be seen, heard and represented.