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Interning and Dancing in Barcelona

Hello! My name is Tanya Bush and I am an intern with Performing Arts Abroad at Institute of the Arts Barcelona from Princeton, New Jersey. I am currently on a gap year in between high school and university. Before arriving here in Sitges, I was hiking in the mountains of Bolivia! I was asked to tag along with some of the classes here so as to gain an insider’s perspective. Enjoy!

Walking inside the studio, you see limbs and black leotards. Electronic pop music plays in the background. The dancers are warming up. Intense leg swings, holding their arms above their heads. They look stronger than most football players. They hold the upward tuck position while Robert, their instructor, changes the music. He says “okay rest,” in a thick Irish accent and they all fall to the ground with a collective sigh. “Okay, again.”

As the new American intern, it is my job to follow the Bachelors degree Dance group to some of their classes of the day. I will see how they are trained, learn about the dance process, and talk to the international student body.


It begins: walk into jazz class, and immediately feel a palpable, electric-like energy.  “Okay you will learn the combinations on the other side for next class-no excuses and I will know! Today, I will teach you a combination clinically, then it’s your job to deliver the performance,” Robert, their muscular teacher instructs. The dancers watch themselves in the mirror as they listen to his directions.

Barcelona Dance

“We are always all in black for jazz,” Karen tells me. A dancer who is out for a back-injury. “Jazz is all about being definitive, the lines-oscillations, technique.” Karen takes notes on the combination in a small journal. “The class is strict and sometimes he {Robert} picks on you for one day and then you correct it and you are better because of it.” I watch the whole group repeat the combination over and over. They let their expressions melt into the music; they are not just moving their bodies-they become characters.  Robert breaks them up into groups: “Smallies and Tallies.” As one group performs the combination, the other goes through the motions in the wings.

Contemporary rehearsal is in the lofty theater, so I make believe that I am at performance.  “We begin with aerobic conditioning. Wearing warm clothes because our teacher Eva likes us to sweat. “ Eva stands at the front of the stage doing all the motions full out with the other dancers.  The precise synchronization has a hypnotizing effect. Whirlwind arms that remind me of dragonflies. Stepping up and down, the dancers become escalators, then tidal waves. Moving vertebrae that at first appear incredibly rapid, but at second glance show precise, and gradual movement. Each back arch takes hundreds of bones of work. Eva turns off the music and says “okay we begin combinations after the pause”. A two minute break means re-tie hair, a joke with a friend perhaps, and 5,6, 7, Go.

Barcelona Fisheye

After a day of trailing the dance students at IAB, I come to a couple conclusions: one is that I fervently regret quitting ballet in 4th grade. Two, the dancers and teachers at IAB all share an incredible passion for their art; you can see it in the way they move. And finally, learning to be a dancer is not always glamorous. It’s painful conditioning, and drilling those lines, and sometimes being singled out as incorrect. Its ballet, and jazz, and hip-hop, and tap and learning how to excel in every discipline. These are the ingredients that go into the emergence of an incredible dancer. And to each one of these students, that process is magical. Thank you PAA for allowing me to delve into this thriving community.

Thank you, Tanya, for choosing Performing Arts Abroad!

Dance Internship in Barcelona

The dance scene of Barcelona is the city’s heartbeat. Leap right in by interning at a studio and exploring the vibrant culture of Catalonia.

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