More than 75 performing arts students from Kuranui College will be showcasing their project entitled What Lies Beneath at this Friday’s Summer Garden Party.
The end of year project considers what it means to be a New Zealander and aims to demystify the elements of performance that students struggle with such as devising, composing and choreography.
“We’ve been focusing on the process of creating new works rather than perfecting things,” explained Kuranui’s Performing Arts teacher Juanita McLellan. “We’re using an inquiry model, which I call the ‘Grandma’ method – lots of “What are you doing? That sounds wonderful… can you show me?’”
To achieve this, teachers from the Kuranui Art department have organised end of term trips to Te Papa in Wellington, Cobblestones in Greytown and Kohunui Marae in Pirinoa. “We’ve thrown students into situations to be inspired. We took a trip to Te Papa, then challenged them to create a work based on the experience, which ended up as plays, music, dance and then challenged them to make improvements.
“We took a trip to Cobblestones to put limits on their resources, and their time, to create something wholly new, and unexpectedly they all started explaining what they were inspired by, before presenting their works less than two hours after arriving onsite.
“On Friday, we travelled to Kohunui Marae to look at what it means to live on the lake, be Māori, and the responsibilities of living in the Pacific,” said McLellan.
“The students’ performance skills are improving and they are already producing works beyond level 1 NCEA. It’s just been really nice to see how the students have stepped up to meet every challenge we’ve set, and how they are growing in their own understanding of who and what they are, and what their own motivations are.”
Before their appearance at the Summer Garden Festival, the students will travel to Featherston and perform a concert in front of children from Featherston and St Teresa’s primary schools. The concert will be wholly student-led and student-designed.
“How is up to them. We’ve been supporting the students to explore new ideas without telling them exactly what to do. It’s a challenging process to step back and be “hands off” and not control the outcome, but we have already seen works that are mind-blowing and beyond what we expected from the project,” added McLellan.
The Kuranui Summer Garden Party is this Friday, 7 December between 10am-2pm. The public are also encouraged to go along and browse the arts and crafts stalls of Christmas goodies that have been designed and made by the students.