New Plymouth Girls High School
Dance artist Virginia Adams works with 21 year 9 students to create a Cultural Extravaganza
About the school
New Plymouth Girls High School is a decile 7 school with a roll of 1,280 students. In 2007 the school initiated a Cultural Extravaganza which they expanded in 2008 into a week's celebration of the many cultures and talents represented by their students. Dance is a new curriculum area for NPGHS in 2008. Professional dance artist and teacher Virginia Adams introduced a group of year 9 students to the fundamentals of dance while working towards a performance as part of the school's cultural celebrations
What the artist discovered
- I was creatively and intellectually challenged to pitch a choreographic work at the right level for a group of largely untrained year 9 students. The result was a powerful, competently danced performance by every one of the girls.
- I had the pleasure of introducing untrained dancers to the contemporary dance genre and watching them blossom into elegant, confident dancers with stage presence, sharing their enjoyment of their accomplishments, as well as the warm response they received from the audience.
- At last I have been paid an amount commensurate with my worth as a dancer and dance teacher of 30+ years of experience. To be appropriately valued by the education sector, in monetary terms, for my contribution to the holistic well-being of students is enormously gratifying.
- By having the aura of an experienced dancer and not being part of the school establishment it was easy to establish a respectful, extremely productive working relationship with the girls.
- The relationship developed between me and the teacher was relaxed and responsive. I was able to add significantly to her dance and music repertoire. Her assiduous back-up meant I could adapt smoothly to working in the NPGHS structure and have everything I required at my fingertips.
What the teacher discovered
- For myself as a new dance teacher Virginia modelled many ways of teaching the students as well as involving me with the choreography from the initial idea to the finished product.
- This project firmly established dance in the curriculum as a valid and worthwhile subject.
- Students who were struggling in other subjects regularly attended this class. Teachers often commented on their behaviour in dance as opposed to how they were with them in mainstream classes.
- At the Cultural Extravaganza we were able to demonstrate how disciplined and focused these girls were. They had tremendous pride in their achievement as most had never performed in public before.
- You gave us freedom with the budget which was beneficial in terms of resourcing the project and ongoing needs.
- Thank you for allowing us to be part of this fantastic incentive.
What the students thought and learned
- It wasn't just her dance. It was everyone's. You could put, like, ideas into it.
- We learned how to acknowledge other people around us. It's not just focusing on our bits.
- She taught us how to look good on stage.
- Virginia wasn't just our teacher. She was our friend as well.
- She doesn't have to follow all the rules. She knows how to have fun with us.
- It's good 'cos it's always different. She can make up moves, right on the spot.
- She makes you feel special. She gives you your own part to do so you can stand out.
- The ideas relate to us.
- We felt proud of ourselves, getting up on stage.
- We learned focus, self discipline & how to work with other people.
- We learned how you have to have different attitudes in the different dance styles