Laura currently lives in Portland Oregon where she
teaches and performs with the Echo Theatre Company & Do Jump School.
As I sifted through programs in Spanish speaking countries, I found most of
them seemed to focus only on the language. Then I found DanceAbroad Argentina.
Through it I could go to South America, take one Spanish class, and spend the
rest of my time studying different forms of dance in a program structured to
meet my individual needs.
The DanceAbroad ballet maestra is Maria Chichi Diaz. She is an amazing teacher. Chichi not only knows what you need to do to fix problems with your technique, but can show you, as she is still in tip-top dancer shape and has impeccable technique herself. Her methods allow you to push yourself to do your best, not without praise when you really nail something. She is not only a teacher to her students, but also a friend. We all had her cell phone number and she told me I could call her for anything, dance related, or not. I love Chichi!
Learning Tango dancing was an opportunity I couldn't pass up while in Buenos Aires, the tango capital of the world. The classes were taught by a pair of professional tango dancers. They began each class with technique work and then taught us a new combination to practice. It was nice to get to switch partners every dance to work on different aspects of the tango. Sometimes on breaks the teachers would give us the treat of a performance that we watched, awe-inspired.
My first month, I took an intensive Spanish class at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. It was quite helpful, helping me improve my overall language comprehension, but also because the Argentine dialect is very distinct and different than the Spanish of Mexico and Spain, (the dialects I had been taught previously.) I met many fun and interesting people in my class as well. Eight or nine countries were represented in my class, it was like a mini UN. We had a great time together and developed a strong class bond.
I lived in the historic neighborhood of San Telmo in an old, single-family mansion that had been converted into many large apartments. The façade and passageways were lovely with ornate plasterwork and marble stairs. My house had six bedrooms, one and a half baths, a kitchen, living room and large hallways with a computer and houseplants. I had my own room; it was nice to have my own space even though my housemates were great.
Buenos Aires parks are lovely spaces; it is a very green city. Buenos Aires also has a wealth of museums and I took advantage of many of the affordable entry fees and visited many of them. Entertainment comes at a very reasonable price as well. Theatre and concert tickets cost about one-third the price they would be in the US and movies cost about the same. One of my favorite activities was to just walk around, or sit in a café and people watch.
Overall, I loved my experience in Argentina and I am thankful that DanceAbroad gave me such a wonderful opportunity.