Award for innovative dance project at GGHS

SOMETHING TO MAKE A SONG AND DANCE ABOUT: An innovative programme that involved Gisborne Girls’ High special needs students, students with disabilities and student volunteers in collaboration with professional musicians and dancers was acknowledged last night at the Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards. Picture by Liam Clayton
ACCESS AWARD: Dame Winnie Laban presents Christchurch Symphony Orchestra musician Mark La Roche with a Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards highly commended certificate. The award acknowledges an innovative dance and music programme run at Gisborne Girls’ High School last year that engaged special needs students and challenged perspectives about disability. Picture by Vanessa Rushton Photography

An innovative music and dance programme at Gisborne Girls’ High was awarded a highly commended certificate at Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards last night.

Run by Christchurch Symphony Orchestra musicians Mark La Roche and Cathy Irons, and Jolt Dance Company members, the programme celebrates dancers with special needs and challenges perspectives about disability and dance.

The three-day residency was run last year in collaboration with student volunteers, to create nine dances to music performed live by other students.

The programme, a first for New Zealand, was run in partnership with the Gisborne International Music Competition with which La Roche is also closely involved.

“It was probably the most rewarding thing I did last year,” says La Roche.

“I have fond memories of it. For the programme to be recognised is tremendous.”

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.

At one of the workshops La Roche and Irons showed the student musicians what notes in a riff from Duke Ellington’s 1942 jazz composition C Jam Blues they could improvise on.

This was the first time several of the students had played some instruments. The improvisation was used for one of the nine dances the students devised.

The concept behind the programme was to enable students with disabilities to be part of a creative performance, said Girls’ High music teacher Anna Marie Fenn.

“Students with disabilities go to some mainstream classes but to be involved in something like this was a different experience and ended up being really amazing. The other students involved rose to the challenge of a new situation and showed a high degree of empathy and sensitivity.

“To be able to have this here in Gisborne, to be part of an innovative programme with members of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra musicians Mark La Roche and Cathy Irons, and Jolt Dance Company to give these students this opportunity — that’s awesome.”

The highly commended certificate was “for a project that enabled mainstream and learning support students to participate in a high-quality music and dance residency”.

Arts Access Aotearoa/Putanga Toi ki Aotearoa aims to increase access to the arts for people who experience barriers to participation as artists, performers, audience members, and gallery and museum visitors.

  • TUKUTUKU: Tukutuku, a programme of original works that meld live music and dance created by Gisborne Girls’ High School students with and without disabilities under the leadership of Jolt Dance Company and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra members will be part of the Tairawhiti Arts Festival next month.

Tukutuku will be performed at Lawson Field Theatre on October 16 at 1pm. Entry is by koha. More about Tairawhiti Arts Festival events in the Guide on page 14.

An innovative music and dance programme at Gisborne Girls’ High was awarded a highly commended certificate at Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards last night.

Run by Christchurch Symphony Orchestra musicians Mark La Roche and Cathy Irons, and Jolt Dance Company members, the programme celebrates dancers with special needs and challenges perspectives about disability and dance.

The three-day residency was run last year in collaboration with student volunteers, to create nine dances to music performed live by other students.

The programme, a first for New Zealand, was run in partnership with the Gisborne International Music Competition with which La Roche is also closely involved.

“It was probably the most rewarding thing I did last year,” says La Roche.

“I have fond memories of it. For the programme to be recognised is tremendous.”

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.

At one of the workshops La Roche and Irons showed the student musicians what notes in a riff from Duke Ellington’s 1942 jazz composition C Jam Blues they could improvise on.

This was the first time several of the students had played some instruments. The improvisation was used for one of the nine dances the students devised.

The concept behind the programme was to enable students with disabilities to be part of a creative performance, said Girls’ High music teacher Anna Marie Fenn.

“Students with disabilities go to some mainstream classes but to be involved in something like this was a different experience and ended up being really amazing. The other students involved rose to the challenge of a new situation and showed a high degree of empathy and sensitivity.

“To be able to have this here in Gisborne, to be part of an innovative programme with members of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra musicians Mark La Roche and Cathy Irons, and Jolt Dance Company to give these students this opportunity — that’s awesome.”

The highly commended certificate was “for a project that enabled mainstream and learning support students to participate in a high-quality music and dance residency”.

Arts Access Aotearoa/Putanga Toi ki Aotearoa aims to increase access to the arts for people who experience barriers to participation as artists, performers, audience members, and gallery and museum visitors.

  • TUKUTUKU: Tukutuku, a programme of original works that meld live music and dance created by Gisborne Girls’ High School students with and without disabilities under the leadership of Jolt Dance Company and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra members will be part of the Tairawhiti Arts Festival next month.

Tukutuku will be performed at Lawson Field Theatre on October 16 at 1pm. Entry is by koha. More about Tairawhiti Arts Festival events in the Guide on page 14.

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