photo: Eliot during Patricia Villaitodo’s theater class at the Huerta de Santa Marina public school / SAVANNAH TRIFIRO
ACTRESS, THEATER TEACHER, AND FINE ART MODEL PATRICIA VILLAITODO HAS FANTASY AS HER PROFESSION. “WITH MY WORK I HAVE LEARNED TO FLY.”
A LIGHT BREEZE WISPS THROUGH THE WARM AIR, the palm trees crackle. Smooth sand carpets the shoreline creating an illusion of walking on an endless sheet of silk. Birds chirp, producing a background of soothing melodies. As flip-flops approach the crystal water they turn to skis and the sand transforms into a layer of blinding-white, fresh powder on the peak of a mountain. Where is this? Better yet, how can we get there?
WELCOME TO PATRICIA VILLAITODO’S IMAGINATION, her work, and the steppingstone to her dream. THROUGH TRANQUIL COBBLESTONE STREETS, past countless local bars, most closed during the late afternoon siesta hours, the amplified sound of children’s excited voices emerges and a small crowd of people begin to appear, all coming from behind two large green doors at the end of calle Bordador Rodríguez Ojeda, not far from the Alameda de Hércules, in Seville. Upon entering the school Huerta de Santa Marina, children are running, parents are chatting, and employees in matching shirts are directing. Within moments, however, almost everyone disperses.
IN THE GYMNASIUM, a group of 6 to 8-year-olds continues to bounce around, trying on shimmering dresses or festive capes. Some may think it’s a mad house. After a long day of sitting stationary at school, energy is the more appropriate term. This is theater.
PATRICIA, BETTER KNOWN AS PATI, instructs theater and Sevillian dance classes every Monday and Wednesday afternoon in the school’s gymnasium. With 12 years of experience teaching young children, she’s mastered the range of emotions radiating from the group.
JUST ABOUT ANYTHING can be found in this class – song, dance, play. When it’s time for face painting, the children line up, or crowd around rather, waiting for their turn to temporarily transform into something else. First up is Maya. It’s her first class, and she’s a bit overwhelmed by the noise and excitement. Within moments Pati creates the image carefully selected by the girl: a bright blue and red butterfly. Upon being shown a photo of her new facial décor, a grin forms across her face and she twirls away in her Snow White gown. Perhaps the paint helped tap into her imagination, allowing her to hide behind any initial nervousness as the beautiful princess she previously dreamed of.
HER JOB HERE IS TO FUEL CREATIVITY for younger generations. “The children have a boundless imagination that is marvelous,” she says. It’s an imagination she can relate to, and one that makes her feel more alive.
PATI, NOW 41 YEARS OLD, has been interested in theater since she was a little girl. At 18, she focused her studies on the art of drama at the University of Seville, where she met her boyfriend of 12 years. She also has two children, Alejandro and Miguel, who are 14 and 2 years old.
EVIDENTLY, when the economy suffers, the arts–a field competitive by nature–also suffer. From teaching classes and posing as a model to acting at Isla Mágica’s amusement park and Canal Sur TV advertisements to participating in the classical theater festival in Mérida during the summer months, she seemingly does it all to support her family as well as gain experience doing what she loves. She clarifies that her work is financially inconsistent, sometimes it pays well, while other times it does not. It always depends on the event, the season, and most certainly the economic climate.
WHEN PATI RETURNS to the University of Seville’s School of Fine Arts, this time to model for classes such as painting and anatomy, she enters a state of pure relaxation, an impressive characteristic of her sensorial capabilities. Often times she is nude, all eyes on her and sometimes one other model. In a job for which many would not have the confidence, Pati is able to unwind in a world free of judgment and flaws.
SOME DAYS SHE TRAVELS TO A BEACH, others to snowy peaks, as she escapes via her imagination while she poses in a frozen movement. Pati emphasizes how she has learned to work with her body in a way that prevents her from hurting herself; something she feels is vital for any individual.
EVERY 30 MINUTE OR SO of modeling, she has time to walk around to view each student’s interpretation of her position; how their own creativity and imagination transcribes a stance onto a canvas. Over the years, Pati has looked deeper into the ever-changing field of artistry among developing students. “There is a difference between current students and those from years past. Now, students are reactionaries, whereas previously they were revolutionaries,” she says. “It’s amazing what can be gained when paint meets surface, or person meets stage. Art is like a language, belonging to it’s own society, requiring much more than the simple groundwork.”
FOR PATI, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ASPECT OF ACTING is being able to travel, both literally and figuratively. She can know any character, she can be any object and any desire. Pati has developed an ability to feel, do and be whatever and whomever she wants, all of which she attributes to her hope and passion as an actress.
IN A FIELD WITH ENDLESS ROOM FOR GROWTH, Patricia Villaitodo continues to learn from her students and her experiences. The innocent excitement of the toddlers and the talents of university students alike provide her with inspiration, motivation, and drive.
HER ULTIMATE GOAL is to become a movie actress. Pati radiates a positive energy that many people nowadays lack, an energy that causes those around her to hope she reaches her dream nearly as much as she does. “With my work, I have learned to fly.”