This Monday it was time to wish a very happy birthday to our student Katie Ryan, who turned 17 with us here in Cádiz! To celebrate the big day the staff brought some cakes and milkshake down to La Caleta beach, one of Cádiz's most popular spots. Though the wind meant that we had some trouble lighting the candles, that didn't stop everyone from joining into a great big chorus of cumpleaños feliz. Celebrating your birthday on La Caleta beach - one of the most gaditano experiences there is!
On Tuesday the students had the chance to learn about the most archetypal form of Spanish music, flamenco. They saw how a whole host of influences from Spain and beyond have distilled into this most distinctive art form. At a dance studio owned by local celebrity flamenco singer David Palomar, they were taken through the basic steps and rhythms of different kinds of flamenco dancing before getting the chance to put it into practice by performing along to some of the most well-known songs in the flamenco genre.
Later the group got to cool off by learning about the instruments that set the pace of flamenco music. They found out how a whole range of instruments from all corners of the globe, from Morocco to Peru, combine to make that characteristic Spanish sound. At the end the students were given the chance to put it all together, with each of them given their own instrument from the tambourine to the triangle, and were led into the beat one-by-one until the whole group combined to produce a classic flamenco bass line. Later they were even given an expert demonstration in the cajón peruano, a percussion box that has made its way from the Latin American music scene and has become a mainstay of modern flamenco.
The evening concluded with a fascinating tour around Gadir, an ancient Phoenician and Roman archaeological site discovered recently during the renovations of the Cádiz puppet theatre. There they learned about the ancient origins of the city, from its probable foundations by inhabitants of Tyre in modern Lebanon, to its conquest and settlement by the Roman empire. They even came face to face with people who had lived and died there, and got an intriguing insight into the day to day lives of the city's ancient inhabitants.
And with that an action-packed couple of days came to a close! Stay tuned for updates on more of our cultural events, including a trip to Tavira tower and our upcoming cinema trip...
Paul Hyland recently graduated with a PhD in Spanish and Latin American literature from the University of Cambridge. He also holds a first class degree in Spanish and German, as well as an MPhil in European Literature from the same institution.