Learning the art of dance at school

Published 9:00am 9 June 2023

Learning the art of dance at school
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Students from Clontarf Beach State High School are putting their best feet forward when it comes to their lessons, with many dancing for joy in one subject.

As the only state high school on the peninsula offering a dance subject as part of the curriculum, dance co-ordinator Andrea Cunningham says the classes help students explore their creative side through movement and expression.

“The great thing about the dance classes is it gets the students away from their desks and into a space where they can be a little more open to their movements and creative way of thinking,” Andrea says.

“They can come in and get their bodies moving by learning a new type of dance and just have some fun during the day.

“It’s a nice outlet from the other subjects at school, which require a lot more thinking and problem solving.”

Students from Years 7 to 12 take part in the dance classes, learning a variety of styles and genres including classical ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, musical theatre, ballroom, cultural and cabaret.

In the classes they are introduced to the elements of dance through the study of choreography and performance.

Dance is also offered in Year 11 and 12 at Clontarf, with students able to choose the senior subject as a two-year course.

Within the subject, students become event managers and put together projects and events while learning a variety of styles and improving their

technique.

The school has been offering dance to students for more than two decades, but this year introduced a new program called the Dance Excellence Program.

Students audition for specialist classes, which concentrate on technique and performance.

Students in Year 6 going into Year 7 can audition for the excellence program before arriving at high school.

Auditions will be held in term 3, and all relevant information will be sent to the local state primary schools.

Parents can also contact Clontarf Beach State High School directly to express interest and secure a place at auditions for students in years 7 to 11 for 2024.

For those who are passionate about dancing and want to compete on stage, the school also offers two dance performance troupes.

There is a junior dance troupe for younger students and a senior dance troupe for older students.

“There are around 50 students who proudly represent our school in both local and state competitions” Andrea says.

“Although the two dance troupes do their own routines and dancing, it is nice when they come together as it helps integrate students of all ages who have the same passion and helps them to meet new people.”

The extra-curricular activity sees the dance troupes perform after school and compete regularly throughout the year at eisteddfods around South East Queensland, such as the Sunshine Coast Eisteddfod, Brisbane Performing Arts Challenge and the Beenleigh Eisteddfod.

Last year, the troupes came away with multiple awards at these competitions after impressing the judges with their moves and routines. 

Dance captains Kiama Knipe and Ellie Bristow help lead the two dance troupes.

Senior dance captain Kiama says she loves learning new types of dancing.

“I have been part of the troupe for three years now and I love exploring the different genres of dance,” Kiama says.

“I love contemporary dance, which is a little slower, but allows you to explore your emotions more and tell a story through dance.

“I enjoy dancing a lot more when I’m learning new routines and I get to be with my friends. It’s a real team activity.”

As the junior dance captain, Ellie loves making new friends with similar interests and passions.

“This is my third year dancing and I really wanted to join the troupe because I like the idea of being part of a team and making new friends,” Ellie says.

“I like how I get to know other kids in different year levels. We are all good friends because we all love to dance.”

Clontarf Beach State High School’s Dance Excellence Program is so highly regarded it has even helped past students continue with their dreams of dancing at either university or other full time professional dance institutions.

Learning the art of dance at school

Shining a spotlight on young stars

With many young people interested in dancing, Clontarf Beach State High School hosts two major dance events and welcomes students from across the peninsula to join in the fun.

Each year the school hosts the Murrumba District Dance Challenge, with schools from the local area competing in junior and senior sections.

Each August, Andrea also coordinates a dance celebration called DancED in the Spotlight.

“We invite students from other schools around the region to our school and the students take part in a number of dance workshops for the day,” Andrea says. 

“That night, we all head over to the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre where the students perform for their family and friends.

“It’s not a dance competition, but rather a celebration of Dance Education.” 

This year’s DancED in the Spotlight is on August 17. 

Tickets will be available from the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre website.

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