Fiamma Piacentini is an actress, photographer director, dancer, and choreographer. Originally from Mexico, Fiamma now lives and works in New York City. Fiamma’s photographs have been published in books including “Mexico: The Cookbook,” “UNO” and “La Milpa.” Her photographic work has also appeared in Glamour Mexico, Metro, Nylon Magazine, Robb Report, and Vanity Fair Brazil, among others. Advertising clients include Tonic Group, Canada Tourism Board, MYT, and Crunch Gyms.
Fiamma has directed, produced and performed in many films and plays. Her acting credits include “las:sitas: a movement exploration of the divine feminine,” “The House of Bernarda Alba,” “By Wing, Hoof or Foot,” “Macbeth,” “Miss Witherspoon,” “Through the Looking Glass,” “Andromache,” and “The Insanity of Mary Girard.” Her most recent role what that of Abuela in Christine Stoddard’s powerful play titled “Mi Abuela, Queen of Nightmares.”
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your talent for performing and did you get into singing, dancing, or acting first?
Fiamma Piacentini (FP): I have always had a passion for performing, ever since I was a little girl. Growing up in Mexico City my mother worked in film, television and commercials. I started acting doing commercials as little girl. Later on in High School I was a part of the drama program at my high school and performed in plays and musicals. Once I moved to NYC, acting took a back seat to my other passion, photography. After some time acting and performing started calling my name again and I started auditioning and taking class once again.
MM: When and why did you decide to move to New York from your native Mexico?
FP: I moved from Mexico to NYC to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology to study Photography. As a dual citizen of the United States and Mexico, I was able to apply for student loans to fund my higher education, which played a big part in choosing to come to NY for school. And also, wanting to be in the most exciting city in the world.
MM: How is the arts scene in New York different from the arts scene in Mexico?
FP: The arts scene in Mexico is absolutely spectacular right now. The amount of artists coming up through Mexico and the quality of the art and level of innovation is outstanding. A lot of international artists are flocking to Mexico right now because of this. I think that the art scene in NY is obviously one of the best in the world, but unfortunately the sheer cost of living makes it hard for artists to come up in NY, where in Mexico it is much easier to be an artist as your sole profession, so I think that makes Mexico more of a breeding ground for emerging artists right now, where NY fosters opportunity more for established ones.
MM: How did you get into choreography or movement work?
FP: I have been doing Ballet as an adult since my early 20s, I always loved it as a child but did not have the opportunity to train because of money issues with my family. Once I moved to NYC and had the money, I started taking class and have been taking ever since. It is impossible to become a ballet dancer unless you start young, or a dancer for that matter, so it was always more of a hobby for me. Later on, I enrolled in a conservatory acting program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio in NYC and took part in their movement program. Through this program, which was Lloyd- Williamson based, I discovered that you could use your body as an expression of art in a way that wasn’t necessarily related to dance training or technique. I found that you could meet your body where it was physically and move it to express yourself and that was not only a valid form of art but really beautiful in its own way. As a frustrated dancer, this was serendipitous for me.
MM: You recently starred in “Mi Abuela, Queen of Nightmares” which is about intergenerational trauma among three El Salvadoran women. How did you prepare for the role of Abuela which is very impactful despite being largely non-speaking?
FP: I think silent roles can be some of the most impactful in stories, I remember seeing the play “Small Mouth Sounds” at the Signature Theater a few years back, which is a play about a silent retreat and is mostly silent and understanding that a lot can be done to tell a story without words being spoken. Playing Abuela was interesting and also challenging, because she exists only as a memory for the Mami character, and for the main character, Maya, only as a sort of legend. I thought of the role of Abuela as one that changed and shifted as the stories of her changed and shifted throughout the play, and as revelations came to light different facets of the character would be revealed as well.
MM: You also did the movement work for this piece. So, how did the tone, themes, and even set design influence your movements on the stage?
FP: I loved doing the movement direction for this play, there was so much to work with. As a movement director, this is really a dream project. You have actors that are playing animals and cacti and various sequences of movement throughout the play. Christine was so wonderful to work with because she was very open and I felt like we could bounce ideas off each other to come up with the best result. She was clear that she wanted the influence of Central American culture to be a big part of it, and while I am Mexican and not Central American, I was able to draw upon some of the things we share culturally, such as ancient Mayan dancing, Cumbia, and quinceañeara culture.
MM: What’s your favorite part of the “Mi Abuela” play and why?
FP: I really love the waltz between Abuela and Maya. I love the idea of our ancestors coming to us to help us when we need them the most, almost like guardian angels. I also really enjoyed choreographing and performing the movement for that moment. Maya is assaulted prior to this scene, and in the eyes of her mother and her culture, becomes a “woman” because she has been with a man. In Latin American culture, girls also become women at their Quinceañera, it is a coming out party. This moment between Maya and Abuela, where she finally hears Abuela speak and sees that she is a sympathetic character and not one to hate or fear, turns into a typical Quinceañera waltz. So, Maya becomes a “woman” before having her Quinceanera, but she has her Waltz moment with her grandmother in this sort of dream space. I think it’s beautiful.
MM: What sorts of character roles are your favorites to play?
FP: I think any actor loves roles that are dynamic and well written, I also love roles that are very personality heavy, where the character has a very strong point of view.
MM: What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far?
FP: I was able to bring a full-length movement piece with my movement company LAS to the Fringe Festival in NYC a few years ago, that was a great and fulfilling experience. Working on this show and designing movement for an entire production has also been a highlight and I am so grateful to have been a part of the project.
MM: What other projects are you working on right now?
FP: At the moment I am doing some photography in Mexico, I like to rotate my interests! I hope to resurrect my movement company LAS soon back in NYC, as we have not really done anything since before the pandemic.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
FP: I would love to work on more productions, both as Movement Director and as Performer. I love working on any project that has a movement element to it and hope to be a part of many more projects like this in the future. I would also like to start a Theater Company at some point that produces shows that incorporate movement as a standard.
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To learn more, visit her official website: http://fiammapiacentini.com