As part of an experiential learning excursion to Spain this summer, School of Journalism students Shadana Mufti, Gina-Maria Garcia, and Mackenzie Nichols report on sport and culture from Spain’s capital city, Madrid, for The Boston Globe. Here is a collection of their most recent stories for the Globe, each focused on Spain’s national pastime: bullfighting.
Detractors target Spain’s first sport with hopes to get it banned
By Shadana Mufti
El toro races into the sandy bullfighting ring, running wildly for a few seconds before three banderilleros, men carrying fuchsia and golden capes, step in waving heavy cloths to catch the attention of the lumbering beast. He obliges, charging at the flapping capotes.
With that the game is on, a wildly popular sport that melds the unforgiving bloodthirstiness of gladiator games with the showmanship of professional wrestling. One thing’s for sure: The bull can flee, fight, even gore his opponent, but other than a few exceptions, he’s going to leave the ring without a pulse. That’s the rule. And this gruesome inevitability has led to a growing movement to ban bullfighting.
On this day, though, there are no protesters at the Plaza de Toros in Valladolid, just an arena packed with eager fans of the sport.
Dressing to kill: The history and art of the bullfighter’s ‘suit of lights’
By Gina-Maria Garcia
Five months ago, it was just a sketch on paper. Today, Rafael de la Rosa is trying on his custom-made bullfighting suit for the very first time.
“Right there, right there, right there,” de la Rosa rapidly demands to the tailor who is gently adjusting the coat from behind. He stands still in front of the dressing room mirror as Antonio Lopez Fuentes carefully pins the material between his shoulder blades. The coat is noticeably more fitted. “That’s perfect.”
Inside the small shop called Fermín, tucked away on a narrow cobblestone street next to the center of Madrid’s bustling shopping district, master tailor Fuentes steps aside and lets de la Rosa admire his handiwork. The bullfighter, or “torero” in Spanish, stands with a regal posture meant to intimidate, with his two feet planted on the ground and his shoulders up, chest out.
A young matador perfects the art of bull slaying
By Mackenzie Nichols
During practice, Damian Castaño’s hands grasp the metal bar of the wooden practice bull, pushing it like a wheelbarrow through the sandy ring. His older brother, Javier, guides his mock opponent, beckoning Castaño toward the cues of his red matador’s cape.
Javier thrusts his chest proudly forward, his left arm and leg behind his back, luring the bull with his back arched. Moving confidently, with slow, deliberate motions, Castaño, 23, follows the red cape as a “good” bull would, reacting respectfully to the matador’s movements.
This role-playing is a crucial piece of the younger brother’s education, but just one aspect of a training regimen that calls for years of study, both inside and outside the ring, for a profession that can be deadly even for its most skilled performers.
The full showcase of published student work from Spain can be found at: http://northeasternuniversityjournalism2014.wordpress.com