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Dancing Dragons in London: The Borough and The Bolshoi

Our FIE classes both incorporate hands-on and experiential learning experiences that very much enhance the immersive feeling of being abroad.

Our British Food and Culture class took a walking tour of Central London, leading us to Borough Market.

The tour was led by Ann Jones, a London walking tour guide. She shared her knowledge of the history of food culture in London in order to give us a better understanding of the present day and global influences.

We started off at The Monument, commemorating the London Fire in 1666. She told us about old street foods in London including peas with butter! (Uh, yum??)

We walked towards the River Thames where she told us about the history of Brits eating fish and how it came about in the 1500’s with the combination of both meat being very expensive and Catholics eating fish often on religious days of observance and during Lent. We learned that the oldest known cookbook in Britain is from the 1300’s and contains many recipes that we may still use today.

We saw the fishmonger house where fish trading occurred in the 19th century and the Hop Exchange, where hop was brought in from Kent to help preserve beer. The Hop Exchange is just around the corner from Borough Market so when our tour ended, we were let out into the plethora of delicious smells and sensory delights. This trip’s meal consisted of venison pie and minted mushy peas!

Eating here this time around was different and added more context to the food stalls there, because we had just learned about all the trading and importing that used to bustle in and out of the market.

As a part of our Dance Aesthetics class we were privileged enough to see the Bolshoi Ballet Company from Russia perform The Flames of Paris at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. This was an awe-inspiring experience because this ballet has never been performed in the States and on top of that, I was able to see it in the gorgeous Royal Opera House.

I have seen my fair share of dance and ballet performances, but none have compared to the technical mastery of the Bolshoi. The sheer strength it took to execute the number of jetés and tours was unbelievable and impressive, to say the least. The ballet was set in the French Revolution, but was more focused on the love conflict between leaders of the French government and revolutionaries.

The Corps taking their bow at the end of the performance

It was so inspirational to witness the grand display of technique given to us by the Bolshoi Corps de Ballet and Principal dancers on their 60th anniversary tour of The Flames of Paris in London. It would be impossible to fully understand dance criticism without putting it into practice, so these opportunities to see outstanding performances in London is quite moving.

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