Valuable Insight for Dance Students

August 11, 2015 at 2:30 PM

The Dance programme at the College continues to gain strength under the leadership of Head of Department, Mr Geordan Wilcox and teacher, Mr Ichiro Harada. Through their extensive contacts in the New Zealand dance scene, the pair is regularly able to attract fellow experts to their classes to assist the student dancers with their learning.

For the past fortnight, the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Dance Educator, Pagan Dorgan has been casting her knowledgeable eye over the Year 11 – 13 students’ progress. Originally from London, Ms Dorgan trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance, which is considered ‘The Place’ to attend and is the contemporary dance equivalent of the Royal Ballet School. She soon developed a passion for dance education and went on study at the Laban Centre of Movement and Dance, and was involved with projects with the Royal Ballet and English National Opera.

As well as looking at the students’ dance pieces and movements, Ms Dorgan was also working on their interpretive and analytical skills. Across NCEA Level 1 to 3 in which Dance is offered, students are required to learn and use dance vocabulary, demonstrate their understanding of dance elements and choreographic processes, respond critically to dance performances, and research the New Zealand dance context.

The Year 13 extension class was analysing part of dance called ‘Anatomy of a Passing Cloud’ by South American choreographer Javier De Frutos, whom Mr Wilcox and Ms Dorgan have both worked with personally. Rather than have the students watch the dance and record their responses, Ms Dorgan stepped the students through the piece. This will enable them to gain a deeper insight into the choreographer’s intent and have a hands-on understanding of the spacing, pace, rhythm and timing of the dance when it comes to their external examinations. Ms Dorgan said the students moved very well and brought great energy to the lesson.

The Year 10 to 13 Dance students also have an Education Outside the Classroom opportunity next week when they will attend the New Zealand Dance Company’s performance of ‘Lumina’ at the Maidment Theatre. The performance will be relevant to all Senior School Dance levels as they study the NZDC as one of the assessments in Year 13. It will also support their ability to reflect on dance performances and show the potential pathway for pursuing dance as a future career option.

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