30 June 2023

South Coast students ready to embrace the Southern Stars stage experience

| Jen White
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Students in costume performing for Southern Stars

Some of the 3000 students who will perform in this year’s Southern Stars give a taste of what’s to come. Photos: Jen White.

About 3000 students from more than 100 public schools will join together for two days in August with just one intent – to embrace life.

‘Embrace’ is the theme of this year’s Southern Stars Arena Spectacular, and tickets are on sale for the 26-27 August shows at the WIN Entertainment Centre.

Students from across the state, including many in the southern region from Berry to Batemans Bay will dance and sing their way through the performance which creative director Ruth Ellevsen says encourages students to embrace every moment of their lives.

“Embrace is about awakening, looking at life through an appreciative lens and making the most of every moment,” she said.

“It is also about embracing your skill set, challenging yourself to develop, being enthusiastic about opportunities, and being grateful and embracing the opportunities that cause you to grow as a person.”

A number of South Coast schools have featured dancers, including Halle Bramley and Ava Rootham from Berry Public School, Zoe Seeland from Illaroo Road Public School, Luca Butler from North Nowra Public School and Lachlan Ganderton and Isabelle Sabel from Nowra High School.

Bomaderry Primary School has a large group of students participating in the Yanggaa Garaba Aboriginal Dance Ensemble, while Ulladulla High School students will feature in the Circus 35 Deg South and Yanggaa Garaba Aboriginal Dance Ensembles, together with Milton Public School dancers.

Tomerong Public School is taking part for the first time and joining students from up and down the coast in the mass dance ensemble, while Vincentia High School’s featured vocalists are sisters Destiny and Hope Pavitt.

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Ms Ellevsen said for the students the show was about conquering nerves and anxiety as they take to the stage, embracing the friendships they form with different people that they meet in the show.

“Accepting that it is OK to be different to others, celebrating the individual, embracing leadership opportunities (and) embracing the responsibility to ensure their performance is their personal best.”

Southern Stars has been a calendar staple in the region since its inception in 2001, with only COVID-19 stopping the show.

It showcases dance, drama and music performed to a live orchestra by students from Year 2 to Year 12. More than 50,000 public school students have performed in the past two decades of shows.

Schools from the Illawarra, Southern Sydney, Shoalhaven, South Coast, Southern Highlands and Greater NSW will take part this year.

This year’s show will include audience favourites such as the NSW Public Schools Millennial Marching Band, Circus, the Rising Stars, Yanggaa Garaba, a full orchestra, drama, a 500-strong choir, 2000 dancers and featured artists.

At the launch of the show on 20 June, Executive Director Paul Roger said Southern Stars was a massive creative and logistical exercise.

“We’ve got primary schools, secondary schools, schools for specific purposes, distance education centres, performing arts high schools, the whole rich gamut of public education, combining to present something very special,” he said.

“With featured artists, specialist groups, a mass choir, mass dance, and the many teams behind the scenes, there are in excess of 3000 students, talented students, who have been rehearsing and refining their skills as they prepare to entertain an expected audience of more than 10,000 people.”

Mr Roger also paid tribute to the hundreds of dedicated and enthusiastic teaching and support staff who have guided students to be ready to perform, from developing the choreography to writing scripts.

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“Southern Stars has become so well known now for the high level of entertainment quality and the professional production values,” he said.

“It’s not only mums, dads and grandparents who buy tickets, but many people who have no involvement with performers are some of our most strident supporters.

“We get so many emails and comments on our social media platforms from people who are truly blown away by the sheer level of talent of our public school kids and the ability of our teachers to put together such a great spectacle.

“World-class is a term we hear a lot from our patrons, and we really encourage everyone who loves music, dance, drama, circus, and amazing entertainment, to come along and support the creative talents of our students.”

Click here to see the full list of schools taking part.

Tickets are on sale for Southern Stars 2023 Embrace at Ticketmaster outlets.

Original article published by Jen White on Region Illawarra.

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