Happy chaos in unique collaboration

THE JOY OF DANCE: By Tuesday afternoon, Girls’ High student volunteers, special needs students and students with disabilities had collaborated with professional musicians and dancers to develop nine dances to live music performed by other students. The unique programme was part of a three-day residency that culminated in a live performance. “It’s working amazingly,” said Irons. Pictures by Liam Clayton

A riff from Duke Ellington’s 1942 jazz composition C Jam Blues provided a starting point for Girls’ High students to improvise on during day two of a unique residency at the school. What was remarkable about the three-day residency was that professional musicians and dancers worked with special needs students and student volunteers to create a range of dances to music also performed by students.

The programme was a first for New Zealand.

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) musicians Mark La Roche and Cathy Irons, and Jolt Dance Company members Lyn Cotton, Renee Ryan and Rochelle Waters identified students’ talents then helped them create a live, collaborative music and dance experience. Many students who made up the impromptu band had never before played instruments such as violin or glockenspiel.

For one of the dances, CSO members La Roche and Irons showed the student musicians what notes from the Duke Ellington riff they could improvise on. This was the first time several of the students had played some instruments.

“We found a range of instruments at the school then asked who wanted to play violin,” said La Roche.

“A girl put her hand up so we gave her the opportunity and a few tips. Another student played the double bass for the first time. They only need to know as much as needed for the pieces they are performing.”

The young musicians did not necessarily need to be able to read music, said Irons who is the CSO’s community engagement programme leader.

“We have ways of teaching them.”

The programme is about getting various groups of students together to collaborate and create and to learn about one another, said La Roche.

“This is the first time this programme has been done in New Zealand. We run projects like this so we can give back to the community that gives us so much.”

Students created nine dances to pieces of music by composers such as Igor Stravinsky, whose work is known for its stylistic diversity, and New Zealand composer Gareth Farr.

“Looking at people’s talents, and connections is what this is all about,” said Jolt Dance Company artistic director Lyn Cotton.

“It’s happy chaos. For me it’s all about connections, bringing students together with music, dance and movement.

“It’s where our individuality can shine.”

The residency culminated in a performance for families and supporters yesterday afternoon.

A riff from Duke Ellington’s 1942 jazz composition C Jam Blues provided a starting point for Girls’ High students to improvise on during day two of a unique residency at the school. What was remarkable about the three-day residency was that professional musicians and dancers worked with special needs students and student volunteers to create a range of dances to music also performed by students.

The programme was a first for New Zealand.

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) musicians Mark La Roche and Cathy Irons, and Jolt Dance Company members Lyn Cotton, Renee Ryan and Rochelle Waters identified students’ talents then helped them create a live, collaborative music and dance experience. Many students who made up the impromptu band had never before played instruments such as violin or glockenspiel.

For one of the dances, CSO members La Roche and Irons showed the student musicians what notes from the Duke Ellington riff they could improvise on. This was the first time several of the students had played some instruments.

“We found a range of instruments at the school then asked who wanted to play violin,” said La Roche.

“A girl put her hand up so we gave her the opportunity and a few tips. Another student played the double bass for the first time. They only need to know as much as needed for the pieces they are performing.”

The young musicians did not necessarily need to be able to read music, said Irons who is the CSO’s community engagement programme leader.

“We have ways of teaching them.”

The programme is about getting various groups of students together to collaborate and create and to learn about one another, said La Roche.

“This is the first time this programme has been done in New Zealand. We run projects like this so we can give back to the community that gives us so much.”

Students created nine dances to pieces of music by composers such as Igor Stravinsky, whose work is known for its stylistic diversity, and New Zealand composer Gareth Farr.

“Looking at people’s talents, and connections is what this is all about,” said Jolt Dance Company artistic director Lyn Cotton.

“It’s happy chaos. For me it’s all about connections, bringing students together with music, dance and movement.

“It’s where our individuality can shine.”

The residency culminated in a performance for families and supporters yesterday afternoon.

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