Chance for pupils to learn from best in arts industry

Performing their theatre production Permission to Speak are Mount Aspiring College senior drama...
Performing their theatre production Permission to Speak are Mount Aspiring College senior drama pupils on Wednesday night. Photo: Ray Today
School children throughout the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago have been taking advantage of rare opportunities to learn from some of the best in the arts industry.

The Festival of Colour Schoolfest programme has been running over the past week, offering workshops and performances - ranging from ballet to circus tricks - to school pupils in the area.

Royal New Zealand Ballet senior dance educator Pagan Dorgan was in Wanaka this week running workshops with Mount Aspiring College and Wakatipu High School pupils.

She said the goal of the workshops was to "give a positive dance experience".

"There are some kids who do these workshops that have never danced and decide it's something they might like to do, which is cool.

"If they are dancers, it might be an addition to what they already know, might be using different language that makes something click for them.

"I think it's important for kids, teachers and parents to have a bit of faith in arts education and what it does for people."

The festival's schools co-ordinator, Liz Breslin, said the workshops and events at the festival were "wicked opportunities" for pupils to get involved.

"I was talking to a parent who usually takes her daughter down to Dunedin to see the ballet, so for them to be able to see them performing as well as the kids being able to workshop is a brilliant opportunity.

"If we were in the city we could walk into any art gallery any day and have a look at a piece of art, but here it is more outdoorsy.

"You never know what someone's reaction is going to be to a piece of visual art or music, and what it twigs in people's minds."

Mount Aspiring College senior drama pupils have also been performing a theatre production as part of the festival.

The production, titled Permission to Speak, explores topics such as body image, gender equality in sport, and what feminism means to teenagers today.

By working with professional directors, Ms Breslin said the pupils would benefit from the experience, particularly if following a career in the arts.

"For them working with all that subject matter outside of school is different because there are different responsibilities inside the classroom as opposed to being in a professional environment.

"They're balancing their schoolwork with a really rigorous rehearsal schedule which is going to benefit them if they do have a career in the arts because that's all about balance."

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