"Master of Life" by Jessica Hallam

"In undertaking a Masters Degree in Dance at the Institute of the Arts Barcelona I can truly say that within a few months, I felt the inspirations and vibrancy from colleagues and professors, as well a wave of inspiration for my artistic imagination thanks to the surrounding community. 

As one of few Americans attending the institute, it is refreshing to be a member of such a diverse mix of students and scholars from over 35 different countries all over the world. The atmosphere is friendly, positive, welcoming but most of all nurturing. The school is “student centered” which in my opinion, since my time at the University, has allowed for interpersonal relationships between the faculty and students. This approach allows for all of the students to have a voice, including myself, to feel confident in collaborating ideas and approaches for the school, in particular the MA Program. The student body in itself is unique, like minded, and ambitious in traveling from different continents, all thirsty for an arts education abroad. The education begins not in the class room, for me, in various situations such as on my way to school or at a coffee shop meeting new people and conversing about politics, social issues, and international affairs.

I feel fortunate to be on the launching pad of this program, especially in its first year of development at the IAB. Our program is small, intimate, and unique. We could not come from more different backgrounds artistically and culturally, but our approach, dedication, and work ethic is seamless and unified. 

Diving into this program, I was surprised at the rigor and demand it placed on me physically and emotionally. A passion for learning was key. We spend 8-10 hours daily refining our dance technique in Contemporary, Ballet, and Jazz, while also absorbing into our brains Theatre Theories, Dance History and Arts Entrepreneurship.

Solo and duet exams have been a part of my course. Thus far we have been taught to stretch our choreographic thoughts and ideas in flirting with site-specific work, props, poetry, film projection, music and film editing. With the support from our choreographic advisor we are given tutorials on our work, assessments, and future development in our performances. With our Thesis and research project coming up in the spring, we are encouraged to go outside of the IAB, to collaborate with local artists, galleries, venues, and expand our curiosity about something we have always wanted to excavate and communicate as an artist. My current struggle is that I cannot make up my mind… I am too curious! 

Living in a community with the Mediterranean Sea and the sun at your doorstep, one can definitely find time to recharge their artistic battery. The Spanish lifestyle, food, culture and friendly people really allow for your artistic spirit to be cradled. Sitges I find is safe to explore, and the IAB has given me a new found confidence to take risks personally and professionally. Every weekend there seems to be a festival celebrating wine, tapas, film, music, as well as celebrations in honor of Catalan history and culture. The IAB is rich in creativity, opportunity and an ideal playground for any MA student looking to create, direct, and explore. Barcelona, Sitges, both embrace artistic thoughts and ideas, so be prepared to look beyond the walls of the institute; there is a diverse, hungry, and creative community awaiting your talents!"

By Jessica Hallam

Alice Wood