Living Güell!

Although we spend our weekdays working hard here in Barcelona, taking dance classes from 9 am until 5 pm, we have weekends free to explore! This past weekend we had a fantastic slew of adventures, beginning with the celebration of Día de San Juan on Friday night. This holiday honors the summer solstice; bonfires are built on the beaches and fireworks are set off all night long!

On Saturday, we woke up early to see Sagrada Familia, the breathtakingly beautiful church that has been in the process of being built for more than 100 years! Antoni Gaudí is the mastermind behind the architecture, who wanted to design the church in such a way as to harmonize elements of nature and liturgy. After gazing at the multitude of brilliant stained glass and taking in the majestic interior structure, which is built to look like a forest, we headed to lunch, opting for a lovely restaurant with traditional Spanish food. In true Spanish fashion, we spent a long time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company over a three course meal. I got to try Crema Catalana, a sweet delicacy of the region, and found it to be absolutely delicious. With full and happy bellies, we made our way to a virtual reality exhibition on the singer and songwriter Björk. It was quite an experience – we wore special headsets that put us in an entirely different 3D space, with Björk’s music playing and wild images and colors flashing around us.

After a packed Saturday, Sunday rolled in with a new wave of excursions! Our day started with a visit to Park Güell (pronounced like the word “well”). Also designed by Gaudí, it features an iconic mosaic bench that winds its way around a large interior section of the park. There were also many incredible mosaic sculptures, including a giant lizard! From here we went to the Picasso Museum, where we got to see many of Picasso’s incredible paintings and learn about his process as an artist, and also the different periods he went through. I was excited by his series “Las Meninas”, based on the work by Velazquez, because in my 10th grade Spanish class we spent a great deal of time analyzing that particular Velazquez painting! We finished the day with a a creamy and delicious gelato pit-stop.

Below is a photo of me with some “crimson and cream” tiles we found at the park!

Ballet in Barcelona

Saludos de Espana! (Greetings from Spain!)

On my first study abroad adventure, I find myself in the majestic city of Barcelona! Before arriving, friends and family had showered the city with compliments when I mentioned I would be traveling here. And since my arrival on June 2nd, I have stood in awe of just how incredible it truly is!

I am officially participating in the OU School of Dance Barcelona Program. We spend between 5 and 6 hours Monday through Friday in the dance studio, working hard and sweating in the Barcelona heat. The studio where we take class is a regional academy called the Centre de Dansa de Catalunya. Our modern dance classes are taught by our sponsoring OU professor, Austin Hartel, but for out ballet and repertory classes we are lucky enough to be able to take class from Roser Munoz and Joan Boix, the owners of the studio. They come from a completely different background, and it is exciting to be exposed to a new perspective on ballet.

One of the coolest aspects of being here is the constant exposure to the Spanish language. Although I haven’t taken a Spanish class since my senior year of high school, I have been surprised at how quickly I have picked the language back up. To be able to practice with native speakers and communicate effectively has been amazingly satisfying. Taking ballet class in Spanish has also been an eye-opening experience; although the language of movement is universal, it is a very different hearing corrections and connecting ideas in Spanish rather than English. The teachers do try and communicate some things in English, and because ballet steps are in French, ballet class here is a potpourri of the three languages!

I am off to rehearsal – hasta la proxima vez!