College Dance Showcase 2014

June 19, 2014 at 1:07 PM

From contemporary dance to jazz, hip hop, ballet, tap and burlesque, on to Latino, Pacifica and even a gum boot dance, this year’s Dance Showcase was a superb display of talent from our young men and women that brought yet another dimension of student achievement to the Saint Kentigern stage. 

The Showcase entailed 121 dancers from all year groups performing 30 linking pieces that had been carefully prepared by 30 student choreographers resulting in two fabulous performance nights. The pressure was on both the choreographers and the performers to get every last detail correct as their work was being assessed for NCEA.

Now in its third year, the Dance Showcase has become a permanent fixture on the calendar as interest in the dance programme has continued to grow; an interest that is reflected in the large number of students who elect to study Dance at NCEA examination level and who audition for our productions.

For those undertaking Dance as an examinable course of study at senior level, there are a number of objectives to be achieved. Achievement objectives at NCEA Level 2 (Year 12) and NCEA Level 3 (Year 13) each have a choreographic element. At Year 12, there is a requirement to ‘choreograph a group Dance to communicate an intention.’ At Year 13, the requirement is to ‘produce a dance for a performance.’ There is also a requirement to ‘perform a significant role in a group dance to an audience.’

To meet these objectives, the senior dance students have poured considerable energy into preparing for the Showcase in readiness to present their work for NCEA assessment. In addition, some of our drama (NCEA) and theatre arts (IB Diploma) students were involved with the technical and production aspects of the show.

In the first act, the Year 13 students collaborated to produce a 30 minute piece entitled, ‘Find Your Tempo,’ influenced by the life of Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), one of the pioneers of contemporary dance. The students used her life story as a stimulus for their choreography, adding in layers of their own personal experiences and thoughts about the future as they prepare to leave school. The story followed a central character, Laura, a graduating student who experiences the many trials and tribulations of life as she moves towards adulthood. Each of the nine pieces, choreographed by different students, flowed seamlessly into the next with the central character forming the link. Ashleigh Clark took on this character appearing throughout the first act and must be applauded for the enormity of her role.

The second act brought a wide variety of dance styles opening with the memorably, raunchy Latino Cell Block Tango, a musical theatre piece inspired by the show Chicago. Other pieces explored a range of difficult, emotional issues that were communicated skilfully though dance. One of the darker pieces explored the abuse of women through the medium of a circus with the Ringmaster taking control as a puppeteer of women.

The boys brought some levity to the evening firstly performing a Tongan dance, Taufakaniua, representing soldiers confidently preparing for war. This was followed by an African gum boot dance with its origins among early African American mine workers who slapped out rhythms to communicate in the dark. The final piece from the boys entailed a number of them, who are better known for their exploits on the field as members of the 1st XV, hamming it up in a Polynesian Fafa dance as they took on feminine mannerisms!

To produce a show of this calibre is an enormous amount of work and it’s quite incredible that the rehearsals and performance were largely student led. Each year we see an improvement in technique and performance from our dancers but this year there was a noticeable, new level of sophistication brought to their work.

The College was very pleased to welcome Mr Geordan Wilcox as the new Head of Dance at the start of the year. Mr Wilcox was formerly a dancer with the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) for 13 years and has a Master of Creative and Performing Arts in Dance Studies as well as a Diploma in Teaching (Secondary), both from the University of Auckland. He has choreographed works for professional dance companies and has taught at both the University of Auckland and the New Zealand School of Dance. He brings a huge amount of knowledge to the role and the students are really enjoying his style. The students also recently benefited from a workshop with members of the New Zealand Dance Company that further extended their dance experiences.

The choreographers, performers and back stage crew from Years 12 and 13 are to be congratulated for their dedication to bring a show of this quality to the stage. Their themes explored difficult, emotional issues that had a real impact on the audience.

We offer our grateful thanks to the following staff for their work with the students and considerable input to ensure a quality performance: Mr Geordan Wilcox, Clare Jennings, Suzie Tornquist and Glen Mortensen.

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