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See Castellers de Vilafranca in London 19-21st April 2013

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

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I will never ever forget my visit to Cal Figarot, HQ of Els Castellers de Vilafranca. An overwhelming evening of fun, fear and awe that left me quite emotional as we watched – and participated in a small way – in a rehearsal of this very special group of ‘human tower builders’. (Sadly the photographs disappeared when my website was hacked, and the links to my school website are out of date too – I’ll upload them again when I have a moment!)  Therefore I am a little sad that I’m not in the UK at the moment as they’re ‘on tour!’

The Human Towers are a three hundred year old tradition of building multi-story human towers called “castells”.  The great Human Towers perform at many Mediterranean town festivals and are one of the oldest and most spectacular traditions in Barcelona and Catalonia.

The 170 member Castellers de Vilafranca, the world’s best Human Towers team, will debut in London on Friday, 19th April, at Potters Field Park near London Bridge.  Each tower will be an exercise in intense concentration, strength and balance as the barefooted participants form successively smaller tiers – resembling a human wedding cake – by climbing up the bodies of each layer to mount the shoulders of the previous tier until the tower is complete.

Once UNESCO had declared the Human Towers as Intangible Cultural Heritage [2010], a huge festival was hosted in the Old Estrella Damm Factory in celebration, in the heart of Barcelona during which a variety of concerts took place and human towers were built to commemorate the much anticipated recognition. It is estimated that over 2,500 people attended the large-scale event.

(from Estrella Damm press release)

The Castellers will in London from Friday 19th April – Sunday 21st April, performing in various places. The schedule is below and I’ve attached a PDF as well. If you are in or around London, or fancy a day trip, I know that you will not be disappointed. ‘Human towers’ are gobsmacking – and this lot are record breaking world champions!

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CASTELLERS DE VILAFRANCA

THE HUMAN TOWERS OF BARCELONA

IN LONDON

19th – 21st April 2013

 

Friday 19th April

 

12.00 h            Performance at Potters Fields Park, Tooley Street, Southwark. London Bridge Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

17.00 h            Performance at Broadgate Circle, City of London. Moorgate Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

18.00 h            Performance at Broadgate Circle, City of London. Moorgate Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

Saturday 20th April

 

12.00 h            Performance at Clapham Common, near the Windmill, South Side, Lambeth. Clapham Common Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

13.00 h            Performance at Clapham Common, near the Windmill, South Side, Lambeth. Clapham Common Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

 

14.00 h            Performance at Clapham Common, near the Windmill, South Side, Lambeth. Clapham Common Station. Sponsored by Estrella Damm

Sunday 21st April

11.00 h             Performance at Millennium Bridge, near the museum, Bankside, Southwark. Mansion House Station

13.00 h            Performance at Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, Southwark. London Bridge Station. St. George’s Day Celebration

Supported by:

Estrella Damm, Barcelona 1876

Equity Point London

Delegation of Catalonia to the United Kingdom

Institut Ramon Llull London

Catalans UK

Vilafranca del Penedès City Council

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And if you can’t make it, they’ll be in Salisbury in June. And you can catch the passion in the below video.

 

PS There’s a movie about them too! The Human Towers

Zoo Barcelona

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Yes, it’s another Barcelona post but nothing to do with football – promise!

Last week when I was in Barcelona on a Comenius Regio visit, my colleague Jane and I hared around numerous sites in the city, collecting resources.

One place we visited was the Zoo de Barcelona. Are all zoos the same, we wondered? Well, no! Whilst there were plenty of animals in common, this was nothing like Twycross (our local zoo) You could get very close to the animals (a little too close we felt in some cases – aren’t hippos and rhinos rather dangerous animals to be kept in enclosures with 2 foot high walls) and the information was in three languages – Catalan, Castillian (Spanish) and English. Hence I pootled around happily snapping signs to the amusement of anyone who saw me, ready for comparison of languages activities, guessing games and reading activities.

I also took plenty of animals pictures to fit into our creative learning journeys – Are you my Mummy?  The Circle of Life. Big teeth. A walk on the wildside. The Blue Planet. And more.  It’s amazing how many links you can come up with when faced with a near empty zoo and armed with a camera and a creative thinking colleague to ‘bounce’ off. We tried to get some footage/ images for Down Under but the kangaroos were uncooperative, lying on their backs in the sun and  refusing to hop.

Anyhow, I’ve been thinking about these ideas and will be collecting the many pictures into folders and writing up some ideas for colleagues as well as giving them the opportunity to think for themselves given the footage and photos. And I had a look at the website to see what I could find.

Like the Zoo, it is tri-lingual and I LOVE IT! At last I’ve found a site in Spanish to rival the French Zoo Palmyre

There’s an interactive map that allows you to click on an animal silhouette and discover photos and information about that animal – scientific classification, habitat, how endangered it is and also a lovely chunk of writing about the animal too. And it’s all available in the three languages – great for Spanish teaching but also good so that the non-specialist who wants to use the Spanish version has a ‘safety net’ ;o)

Then there’s the Espacio Lúdico or recreational area where there are some fun games. One involves solving clues to find out to which animal the pawprints belong. Simple sentences that can be decoded with minimum help and a bit of previous knowledge of animals perhaps! And so easy to use in non discrete language lessons – which had be jumping up and down excitedly!

Other sections caught my attention such as the zoo rules, the history of the zoo and even the map of how to get there and the price list. Some people say I have a one track mind and never switch off from learning mode – I guess I do! And it doesn’t bother me much to be honest! If only there were enough hours in the day to explore all the ideas that come to mind in a place like that!

As we work on our ideas at school, I’ll try to share as many as I can here.

I’ll leave you with Copito de Nieve (Floquet / Snowflake), for many, the (sadly deceased) face of Barcelona Zoo. A powerful image and thought.

 

 

Barcelona – Campions :o)

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

So, Barcelona won! And in style.

Abidal, after starting treatment for a liver tumour only 10 weeks ago, raised the Champions League cup following goals by Pedro, Messi and Villa (and Rooney I guess!)

And Gerard Pique went home with a rather original souvenir, apparently following a tradition set by the Barcelona basketball team!

Barça! Barça! Baaaarça!

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

I’m getting rather excited now!

So cue a number of posts that indulge my excitement and might get you in the mood for what I hope to be a great game of football!

Força Barça!

Friday, May 27th, 2011

I’ve never made  secret of my love of football, nor my love of Spain.  And I think most people who read my blog also know that Barcelona is very very dear to my heart, as a city and also as a team.

I haven’t been blogging here over the last week but I have been posting on my school website where you can catch a flavour of some of my exploits on our (final) Comenius Regio project.

One of the highlights of the visit was a trip and tour of the Camp Nou – I caused great amusement with my squealing, jumping, flapping and at times tears!

So I am VERY VERY excited about tomorrow and the Champions League final. It is so true that FCBarcelona is ‘més que un club’ – it’s a huge part of people’s life and the club is so much more than a football team.

In preparation, here’s the Himne de Barça – the children in Y5 at Els Pins sang it for us whilst we were there – everyone of them! This is the karaoke version so you can join in.

Want the words in English? See below!

Catalan

English

Força Barça!

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Altogether now …..

Blaugrana al vent,
un crit valent,
tenim un nom,
el sap tothom:
Barça, Barça, Barça!

Don’t stop movin

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Not a post about S Club 7 (athough I will say that my boys are big fans of Hannah who’s in Primeval now!) but about something that was reinforced in my mind last night.

The Assistant Head at school had been asked to run part of the PDM on EAL (English as an additional language) and to give some brief ideas on how to make life easier for EAL pupils at school. We don’t have many but it is an important issue – and one that is relevant in general too! On a recent course she had attended, the presenter had taught them some Welsh to put the delegates in the position of an EAL learner, and Jan had asked me to emulate this – her exact request was ‘you know an oscure Spanish dialect don’t you? Could you teach us some?’ Not sure how the Catalans would respond to hearing Catalan described as such but I took the challenge.

The idea was to teach numbers 1-12 and then do some basic maths but without using visual prompts like fingers, cards, notes, actions or mimes until about half way through the session. Thus the staff were put in the place of a learner who is capable to doing the task – all our staff can add and subtract numbers up to 12!- but don’t have the vocabulary to understand the task.

What struck me was how hard I found it to teach without using actions – I literally had to put my hands in my pockets or hold them together to stop myself gesturing. I found it really uncomfortable to see the looks on my colleagues’ faces as they tried to work out what I wanted them to do – and I think I caved in quicker than I should have done. My style is very much waving my arms around, pointing, miming and using any clue I can to enable the pupils to understand.

When asked how they’d felt, it was obvious that the exercise had hit the mark as the staff immediately pinpointed the difficulty of understanding the task being the biggest stumbling block, and how much easier it had been once actions had been introduced, or the list of numbers being written on the wall. One colleague said that she’d given up trying after a few minutes as she was so baffled; another that she’d felt so inadequate and small as others had caught on more quickly than her, and almost humiliated (once she’d understood it) by the simplicity of the task that she’d been unable to do.

So, despite my discomfort at teaching in a way that is alien to me, I think the exercise served to underline just how important gesture and mime are in enabling understanding.

We played a game from Digital Dialects as part of my mini-lesson. Well worth a look if you want to learn – or even just look at – some basics in a wide range of different languages!

¡Viva Eurovision!

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Getting into the Eurovision spirit ….

Here’s the Andorran entry La teva decisió sung partly in Catalan (disappointed that it switches to English for the chorus but I guess that’s so more people understand it!)

And the Spanish entry by Soraya called La noche es para mi (again has English in the chorus!)

Here are the words in case you feel the need to join in!
Vuelvo a mirar, tus ojos son un volcán
No escaparás, tu fuego dirá la verdad
No importa si quieres o no, porque hoy mando yo

Come on and take me, come on and shake me
Quiero saber lo que sientes por mí
Come on and take me, come on and shake me
¿Que no lo ves que estoy loca por ti?
Come set me free, just you and me
La noche es para mí

No puedo más, juro que mío serás
Ven a bailar, ya no podrás escapar
No importa si quieres o no, porque hoy mando yo

Come on and take me, come on and shake me
Quiero saber lo que sientes por mí
Come on and take me, come on and shake me
¿Que no lo ves que estoy loca por ti?
Come set me free, just you and me
La noche es para mí

Ah…
Take me, shake me, take me

Brilla la luz, mi mágica noche eres tu
Ya no hay tabús
Quiero clavarte mi cruz

Come on and take me, come on and shake me
Quiero saber lo que sientes por mí
Come on and take me, come on and shake me
¿Que no lo ves que estoy loca por ti?
La noche es para mí
La noche es para mí
Come set me free, just you and me
La noche es para mí

Wonder who’ll win? Could it be Jade and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber? Or Soraya? Who knows with the way the voting works at times!

Stephen Fry on Catalan Christmas traditions :o)

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Now I’ve broken up for Christmas holidays, I’m ill – isn’t it always the way with teachers? So, to get myself in the Christmas spirit, and because it is very funny – and true! – here’s the inimitable Stephen Fry explaining a couple of rather particular Catalan traditions. Perhaps not the clip to use to explain it in class though!!

Warning – these clips contain coarse language that may offend.

And here’s a clip of children attacking their Caga Tio!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LksInINGTVs&hl=en&fs=1]

Blogging in Barcelona

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Sagradafamilia, originally uploaded by Theo K.

Bon dia des de Barcelona! Didn´t think I´d get to blog from Barcelona but as ´mi marido´is ´trabajando´and the hotel has a PC with free wifi, ´aquí estoy´.

I am having a lovely time and there´s still more than a day to go.

Yesterday we went to Montjüic and visited MNAC, Fundació Miró and el Poble Espanyol.

Today we´ve visited la Sagrada Familia (I expected scaffolding but there was far too much of it!) and then Parc Güell. And it´s only lunchtime.

Next on the agenda is Port Vell and Port Olimpic before el Barri Gòtic etc and some serious shopping tomorrow.

I´ve taken lots of pictures – typical tourist ;o) – but as ´el marido´is using his laptop and this PC doesn´t Bluetooth or have an SD card reader, I can´t downlaod them at the moment. However, I have ´borrowed´one by the lovely Theo K to illustrate my post!

Fins aviat!

PS I am trying really hard to speak Catalan – after all, that´s why I´ve been revising. However, every time I try I am either looked at blankly or answered in Spanish. So, either I´m trying it out on people who can´t speak Catalan, my Mallorquí accent is confusing them, or I really am rubbish at Catalan! Hoping it´s not the latter ;os