Lower North Coast Dance Festival

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The 2019 Lower North Coast Dance Festival provides a wonderful opportunity for local school students – both primary and secondary – to share their creative talent with the wider community.

Festival committee members Renee Marchment – Administration Manager, Crescent Head Public School; Julia Livingston – Dance Teacher, Camden Haven High School; and Peta Harris – Principal, Huntington Public School share what’s in store for us this year on the magnificent Glasshouse stage …

The Lower North Coast Dance Festival has been around for many years now, although it’s had its name changed since the early days! What have been some of the other major changes the festival has experienced?

Our festival has continued to grow in quality and quantity. This has led us to holding the whole festival at the Glasshouse. We trialled its new “home” in 2017, with only one night being held as a Festival Showcase. It was such a success, that since then all four nights are being held there. 

Each year we hope that schools look beyond just moving to a beat and create items that are able portray an emotion or tell a story and captivate the audience. We are very proud to see schools increasingly doing this. The quality of items has lifted to a professional level and are so worthy of having their moment to shine on such an outstanding stage at the Glasshouse. 

The beauty of our festival is that it still remains a celebration – and not a competition.

In 2018, we worked with a graphic designer to create a logo, which we have been consistently using for our branding in the community and online. Our festival really has moved with the times, in that our whole festival is organised electronically via our website and social media pages. The LNC Dance Festival is concerned about minimising its carbon footprint by reducing the amount of paper we use, and going online was our way to ensure this. 

We’ve been very lucky to have new members join our committee: Jock Garven – Principal, Lake Cathie Public School; Jacynta Moylan – Deputy Principal, Hastings Secondary College; and Katie James – School Learning Support Officer, Aldavilla Public School. They, too, are dedicated staff within our public education schools. Together, we collaborate to ensure all students have access to amazing opportunities.

 We’ve also added merchandise for students to purchase. 2019 will be our second year offering T-shirts for groups to purchase. It really helps increase the hype and positive vibe when groups are entering the venue and out and about in the community. It’s a fantastic way to promote the event and their school’s participation.

 Team Spirit Sports have generously partnered with us as a supporting sponsor. Their contribution is assisting us to stage these workshops.

 This year, we have also added student comperes to host the show. Although we are a dance festival, we want to provide experiences for all students, particularly in the Creative Arts, across our region. We also have students assisting in the production team.

What’s it like for performers and teachers to present their routines on such a magnificent stage at the Glasshouse?

The feedback we’ve received has been extremely positive. What teachers, students and choreographers are creating together is so worthy of being presented in this magnificent venue. For some small schools, this is a chance for them to perform on stage in front of a large audience and for many, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

We are thrilled to see schools now take more ownership of the staging of their items, through making some creative lighting and visual projection requests of the very talented production team at the Glasshouse. This leads to a polished performance that is competitive on any professional stage. 

When will the festival be held this year?

 The 2019 Lower North Coast Dance Festival is being held over the nights of 17th, 18th and 19th June, with a Festival Showcase being held on Thursday 20th June. All shows commence at 7pm.

Roughly how many schools/students will be involved with the festival this year?

 This year we have 31 schools participating, with 66 items and approximately 1,400 students.

That’s huge! What styles of dance will we be able to experience at the festival? 

 There is such a variety of dance styles that schools have chosen as the vehicle for their items. These include Contemporary Dance, Jazz, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre, Cultural Dance and for the first time this year, we have a Ballet Ensemble.

There are also some dance workshops available as part of this year’s festival. What can you tell us about these?

We really wanted to promote the idea of a “festival of dance”, rather than just performances. So, we decided to run some student workshops in a range of dance styles, which allows students the opportunity to learn from a highly experienced dance teacher from Sydney – an experience they would otherwise need to travel for.  

We are extremely excited to announce that Heath Keating is the visiting tutor, joining us in between his extremely busy schedule performing in West Side Story at the Sydney Opera House.

These workshops are for both primary and secondary students in the Jazz, Funk, Hip Hop and Commercial Dance genres and run for one and a half hours each. The workshops are open to any student performing in the festival, which allows students to meet and engage with students from other schools and works towards forming meaningful memories and friendships. 

Senior students will be chosen from these workshops to lead the Showcase Finale.  

There’s also a State Festival of Dance held each year; this year it will be held in Sydney in September. How have our local students fared in this festival in the past?

We’ve had a consistent representation from the Lower North Coast Dance Festival each year for the past 10 years at the State Dance Festival. Last year was our most successful, where we saw both secondary and primary schools successfully audition. Camden Haven High School had two items in the festival, including their distance education students. 

2018 also saw Aldavilla Public School in the State Dance Festival programme, which was so exciting. 

These items depicted dance as an artform by communicating ideas through their work. They are wonderful ambassadors of the LNC Dance Festival, and we are hoping for an even more successful representation in the 2019 State Dance Festival. 

Where can we purchase tickets to the Lower North Coast Dance Festival?

 All tickets are available from the Glasshouse Box Office. These can be purchased online at glasshouse.org.au or by calling 6581 8888. More info: www.lowernorthcoastdancefestival.com.au

Thanks everyone.

Interview: Jo Robinson.

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