23 September 2019

Karabar High dance students are part of a performing arts explosion in Queanbeyan

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Dance students from across the region gathered at Karabar High for a workshop with Expressions Dance Company. Photo: George Tsotsos.

As the sun streams through the windows at Karabar High, there’s a bit of Queanbeyan creative magic taking place in the school dance studio.

Expressions Dance Company, one of Australia’s major contemporary ensembles, is taking a dance class for students from across the region ahead of The Dinner Party’s opening at the Q Theatre tonight.

The Dinner Party is a helter-skelter rollercoaster of emotion, energy and drama onstage and there’s a fair bit of energy in this room too. Alison Cronan is the head teacher for Creative and Performing Arts at Karabar and she says these opportunities are invaluable for her own performing arts students and others from local dance schools.

“We happily pick up all opportunities to enrich our students,” she says. “We have some pretty exceptional teachers here at the school but to learn from people who are currently working in the industry is really exciting for the kids and will spur them on.

“Working with professional artists takes it to the next level and helps the kids build networks so when they graduate and turn up for auditions, they’ve been through the process and they’ll see familiar faces.

“We’re pretty passionate about getting the kids out of the classroom, showing them things they can be involved in and lighting a little spark for the future.”

The Karabar High arts program is auditioned and accepts students from across the region, including a few from Canberra for a dance, music or drama major. Alison says rigorous academic standards are applied, and by the time the students are in Years Eleven and Twelve, they can also study sound, lighting and theatre production in the VET stream.

Former students have gone on to the Australian Ballet School, the Victorian College of the Arts, the New Zealand Ballet and into the Los Angeles film and animation industry. Access to a high standard, well-appointed professional theatre at the Q makes a huge difference to the learning experience for the performing arts students.

Q director Stephen Pike says relationships with local schools are always important. “Karabar uses the venue quite a lot. This is such a high standard arts curriculum, and I think what Karabar offers is a bit of a big secret for the general Canberra region population. The standard would be envied by a lot of schools in Canberra.”

The association between Karabar and the Q also enabled the performing arts students to learn from professionals in the recent, gritty street production of Jump First Ask Later, and recently, 750 primary and high school students were onstage at the Q for the Queanbeyan choral festival.

“Working in a professional theatre in their own community is a huge thing,” Alison Cronan says. “Kids in primary school are on a stage with light and sound, working with technicians then they go into the foyer and it’s lined with photos of dancers and actors, people from their own community.”

“It’s a beautiful venue, we all love it.”

The Dinner Party is presented by Expressions Dance Company in association with the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. It’s at the Q theatre in Queanbeyan on Friday 21 June 2019 – 7:30 pm, Saturday 22 June 2019 – 2:00 pm and Saturday 22 June 2019 – 7:30 pm. Bookings can be made here.

Original Article published by Genevieve Jacobs on The RiotACT.

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