One of the main reasons I chose Spain as my study abroad destination is because it’s a country with rich culture and history. I wanted to explore and better understand the Spanish culture to the best of my ability and I can say I am making progress. Just by being here and walking around the city, I have learned a lot. I attended a ballet show by The National Dance Company in Spain as they celebrated their 35th anniversary at Teatros del Canal where I learned about the history and importance of ballet in Spain. Let me tell you a little about what I have been able to pick up so far and what I have learned at the show!
The first thing I noticed that made me happy is the respect Spaniards have for their elders. For a reason that I have not yet figured out, the area where my school is located is highly populated with the elderly so I’ve had a couple encounters with them. They are very friendly and it is very noticeable how much the younger generation respect their elders simply by the way they look at them, maneuver around them when walking and help them at times of difficulty.
Effort goes a long way!! Local residents appreciate the effort you put into speaking Spanish regardless of how good you are. Waltzing into a restaurant and trying to order your food in English without trying to explain what you want in Spanish (especially in traditionally Spanish restaurants) can be considered disrespectful. Speaking a language without knowing exactly what you are saying is difficult but it is also part of the experience. Just last week I ordered my food perfectly in Spanish and mentally patted myself on the back! My motto for this semester is practice makes perfect :).
I took a big step in understanding the arts aspect of the Spanish culture when I attended a ballet show by Compañía Nacional de Danza (The National Dance Company) at Teatros del Canal. I researched the company prior to the show to understand their story and found that it was established in 1979 as “The National Classic Ballet of Spain” and was directed by Victor Ullate. According to Marca España (a Spanish newsletter), CND was created with “the objective of presenting the entire works of Spanish dance and Flamenco to the world, to bring greater fame and recognition to our culture” and that it did! The show was beautifully choreographed and the audience was engaged! The audience did not make a sound during a show and clapped from the second they finish a number until the curtains touched the floor. The show was an hour and a half with a 20-minute break after the first hour.
We went to the theater about 45 minutes prior to the show and noticed that the crowd was a mix of all generations. There was a layout of different outfits from different plays that have been and are being performed in the hallway at the theater. Even though Spanish people (particularly women) tend to dress up more than the average American, a social outing like this one calls for a very well-dressed crowd so I’ve been trying to keep up!
Here is a link to The National Dance Company’s website if you want to learn more about them! http://cndanza.mcu.es/es/