One of the truly great things about learning French in Montpellier has been all of the different culture and art I have been opened up to since I have been here. Something very interesting happens when you are doing a French immersion stay, at least it did for me. I became open to almost any type of event that I was invited to, saw on a billboard or read about online. I believe it was a mixture of wanting to soak up as much of the foreign culture that I could during my time here but I never felt like I had to force myself as I have often had to in order to get myself to go to something a little different in the UK. My view is that as learning French is my main goal of my time in Montpellier any opportunity to get out into the community and talk to people is one I should seize. The double hitter of seeing more culture, often unique to this corner of Europe, and moving forward with my French immersion feels both productive and extremely enjoyable, a colossal combination.
In this regard, a new target has been drifting across my cross hairs over the past few weeks; The Montpellier Dance Festival. When I first came across the posters and billboards for this event I completely overlooked it because I was not super interested in or educated on dance despite having an interest in the arts in general. What I am interested in however are things at their highest standard and over time the coverage and publicity this festival has been getting has been increasing. For a start, there was some flyers and basic info at the ILA French School which I had a flick through as I enjoyed some coffee on my break between my intensive French lessons. I always enjoy seeing the events they advertise there as it’s a good little way of finding out about things going on whilst practising your French. Then I was talking to my host mother about it and she was singing its praises and describing to me how it had evolved throughout the years.
French Immersion and Tasting New Art
This year (2018) will be the 38th edition of the festival and will feature artists internationally renowned from all over the world. The range of different genres is immense and from talking to people a little bit more involved in the scene the artists they have this year are pretty stellar. There are shows that are quite accessible and those that are extremely abstract, if you are little new to it like me going for something a little lighter is a good idea in my opinion, although I have looked at a lot of the promotional material for the very deep and edgy performances and they do look really interesting.
What is also incredible about this festival is that is not all about the performances, there are plenty of things happening that are designed to educate and involve people on the world of dance. There are dozens of workshops and mass lessons where you can experiment and learn with some of the best dancers in the world. These take place in some of the grand venues and also around the city in an open-air environment so you can enjoy the southern French sun whilst exploring the art form. If you are thinking that you have never done any form of dance in your life except for in the odd bar after bit too much vino then don’t worry, there are separate sessions for all ages, abilities and styles. Why not try something new and interesting that you have never heard of before or something you have been wanting to try for a while and never got around to. The Montpellier dance festival is the perfect opportunity to give it a go.
The venues that they are using for the festival are all around the city and many of them are in the old town just down the road from the ILA French Immersion School. The buildings are another nice part as many of the performances are held in some of the city’s oldest buildings bringing a real amazing atmosphere. If you are learning French in Montpellier in either June or July I implore you to give it a try.