Sunday, January 31, 2016

Performing Arts for The Fashionista in 2015

I just found a pile of posts sitting in my drafts that I had written but obviously forgot to post it. This is one of them. So please check the dates to see when this was actually written. 

It was a very big year for The Fashionista last year in the performing art area. She chose drama as one of her electives which they did for year 9 and of course she of course had to sign up for everything going as is her way.

Early on in the year she performed in the Sheila Winn Festival with her high school.

The Festival is an annual event that involves more than half the secondary schools in the country. During the Regional Festival, students engage with Shakespeare's plays by performing 5-minute and 15-minute excerpts from them with schools in their area.

Schools from each region are then selected to go on to participate in the National Festival.
She played one of the dancers.  Unfortunately I was sick and didn't make it but her dad and Grandma when to see the regional one she was in. Their school got best costumes I think, but the 'boys' school that they are affiliated with won and went to participate in the National Festival.

This is a pic from one of her dress rehearsals. On the night they also had colourful ribbons tied around their wrists with bells so they jingled when they performed.

She was fortunate enough to attend a Black Grace dance workshop in Auckland with her contemporary group, Manu Wairua, in April. The group was so blessed as Black Grace is New Zealand's leading contemporary founded by Neil Ieremia (on chair in pic) in 1995.

Each student got to partner up with one of BG's dancers and so got some one on one treatment. MW's 'manager' I suppose you could say (far left in the pic below) told me it was very funny to see The Fashionista doing one rather flexible move with her legs and the male BG dancer she was working with try it, and laughingly make some joke about not being quite as flexible as she was. She came home from this event on an absolute high ... the BG group are really warm, funny, flexible and helpful apparently. They were all given Black Grace t-shirts ... it's 12 months later and it is still her favourite t-shirt!

Post workshop pic of MW and BG ... I love how they felt comfortable enough with them to take a funny picture as some events the kids are quite reserved. 

Performing an exercise with one of the BG dancers.

Her drama class performed a couple of sketches in June to show off what they had been working on throughout the two terms. She was one of two given the narrators role (first pic), in the class production and then she got to perform with some of her friends in a mini piece that they had put performed in class where she was the wicked aunt (second pic).  She got a bit of the acting bug doing this course and performing ... hmmmm

Apologies for the quality of the photo, I had to cut her out of a larger one.

Outside of school she started 'en pointe' ballet and also continued with contemporary. Unfortunately due to her travelling such a distance each day to and from school the added external class were more than either of us could take much more of (I was spending hours on the road each day!) so she dropped ballet as it was three classes a week but still continued with her weekly contemporary class. Here's a pic of her the day she took her exams, which she passed.

All of the members of Manu Wairua, except for The Fashionista, attend the same small character School (120 students in total). This school is a very progressive maori school (although you don't have to be Maori to attend there). One of the very talented lasses, who started the group, has been sitting her High school levels in dance and had to choreograph and perform a repertoire as part of her assessment and as they don't have a lot of dancers at their school to choose from so they asked XXXX to help out.

She practiced with her partner a few times and had one practice with the group before going on that night. They were the finale and did really well. It was a war based theme, with very strong and theatrical music.

It was a great night held at a centre in the middle of Hamilton. Some students performed a scene if they were doing drama, some performed on a musical instrument and a few sung with a band they had in to accompany the students. They were being assessed as they performed their routines and they did so well.

Around the same time she was also rehearsing for her schools annual performance. Her girls high school joins together with Boys High each year to put on a big school performance. They each take it in turns to host and run the event. In 2015 it was Boys High's turn to run the event and they chose Jesus Christ Superstar. She actually was one of two year 9 girls (there were about 300 girls in year 9 but of course they didn't all apply or audition) to get a part as a dancer in the show. She was over the moon as you can well imagine.

There were hours and hours and hours of work putting this performance together. Every Sunday between 1 and 6 she attended rehearsals at Boys High, along with another 1-2 nights a week there also. On top of that the dancers rehearsed through their lunch breaks at school for the special performances they were doing in the show that didn't involve the rest of the case. It was tiring that's for sure. 

They ended up performing about 6 shows in July and I have got to say, trying not to be biased, that the show was just AMAZING. The singers were awesome, the dancers perfectly rehearsed and looked so professional, and the student band (up the back in the pics) just first class. Anyone who saw the show was just blown away by it.

She just loved being with the cast and crew and they really bonded during the rehearsals. She still has some amazing friends, even a couple of males ones, from this event. I think I was the highlight of her year. During this show the acting and performing bug hit her BIG TIME and she now wants to pursue it as a career.

She's the wee angel up the back right. She did a beautiful job.
Photo by Cirrus Photography

Can you spot her? She's the wee one at the front left.
Photograph by Feisty Photography

Waiting back stage to go on.

In November she performed in her new dance academy's recital doing contemporary. She was only in the one dance as it is a large school and the recital lasted for about 2 1/2 hours or more!

When I advised the owner early this year that she wouldn't be returning, who also was one of two of her ballet teachers, she told me that she thought she danced beautifully in the recital and that she was welcome back anytime, which was just lovely as she is a very exacting teacher who does not give praise lightly.

My favourite photo taken by the photographer the school hired - she hates it.

That's her in the front, middle.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Fashionista becomes a Teenager

I just found a pile of posts sitting in my drafts that I had written but obviously forgot to post it. This is one of them. So please check the dates to see when this was actually written as some are over a year old now. 

My darling Fashionista turned 13 recently. We are in the middle of renovations and she didn't really want a party (well anything we could agree on anyway) so I took her down to our bach with a friend for a couple of nights whilst Agent Smelly was away on camp a week later.

She is a particularly amazing young lady. She is extremely intelligent, well-mannered and a delight to have around. Her determination and courage blows me away at times and I can only look on in awe at what her Papa and I have created. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Oh for the Love of Onions

One afternoon some dear homeschooling friends of ours (9 kids!) that live locally called to ask if we'd be interested in heading off to some nearby paddocks to collect some onions with them and we jumped at the chance.

Every year once the onion (or potato) pickers have been through the paddocks, our friends  get permission to go in afterwards and collect any produce that hadn't made the grade. They go with another family (of 8!) and this year were kind enough to offer us an invitation to come along too.

Our haul after we have given some away to Grandma and friends.

It was a lovely evening and the girls and I had a great time grabbing the onions off the fields. All that bending and hauling bags was hard work but really rewarding. Agent Smelly spent more time talking to one of her friends so only managed a couple of half bags much to our amusement. The Fashionista despite picking with her bestie did a great job and collected a few bags.

There weren't so many red ones left and those that were, were quite small. We still collected enough to see us through for quite a while. There were loads of brown ones that were of really good quality too, I am not sure why they leave some of them. We got a great haul ... imagine how much our friends got with their crews!!!  These onions would have been simply ploughed back into the ground if we hadn't of picked the left overs so if you live anywhere near some onion fields (or some other produce) write to the people and ask if you can clear out the paddocks after they've finished picking them, you might be lucky like us and be given permission to pop along and clean up.

As we now have onions a-plenty I had the girls help me make some onion soup. We learnt that it used to be made by peasants during a time when they could not afford much and hence was referred to as "peasant soup". The papa and I don't mind it but the girls have suggested I don't ever make it again, even if we end up living as peasants.

Friday, April 3, 2015

COLLINS, Suzanne

Suzanne COLLINS is the author of the extremely popular dystopian trilogy, THE HUNGER GAMES.

When I first read The Hunger Games, it was with the view to see whether it would be suitable for my tweens girls. I decided that it was not at all suitable, I found it terribly violent, teens being manipulated to kill each other in order to survive and an evil, controlling government using people like puppets.

After a while, and much pressure from them for the chance to read it, and discussions with friends who have children of similar ages I decided to let them read and I do not regret it one little bit as it turned out to be an amazing series for lots of discussions.

We discussed the heroine, Katniss, in depth. Was she a hero? She volunteered to take the place of her little sister, whose name had been pulled to enter the fight, in a sort of reality show where teens fight to the death. That was indeed brave but she still entered the game and ended up being 'involved' in some deaths of other entrants. Is it brave to let others die in order to save our own necks?

We discussed some characters who were indeed innocents who were killed in the "games", thus pointing out that in war there are always innocent people with families who lose their lives.

We discussed Haymitch, who had won a previous Hunger Games, and was an alcoholic and still suffered nightmares many years later from his involvement in the games. We discussed 'Post Traumatic Syndrome" and how so many people/soldiers suffer long after wars are ended and some simply never recover.

We also had a big discussion on classism; the Capitol (the government who ran all the districts) and how these fat cats lived very different lives to those in some of the districts that were poor and suffered greatly. Despite the Capitol being a rather futuristic and over-exaggerated city, we talked about the similarities between that place and our own governments and major capitols now.

Don't get me wrong, I still don't think that the books are particularly well written and they are violent but they do have a way of making you want to read them to the very end simply to see what happens. I would definitely recommend letting your teen read them but I would strongly recommend that you read the books yourself first in order to discuss them with the child as you go along. Also if they are particularly sensitive some of the scenes may upset them.  

The Fashionista (12)     -- 3 out of 5 stars
Agent Smelly      (10)    -- 4 out of 5 stars
The Mama   (over 20)   -- 3 out of 5 stars

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Balloons Over Waikato

If you are a hot air balloon enthusiast then Hamilton, NZ is a great place to visit for 5 days every March. Each morning the balloons ascend over Hamilton and land somewhere different throughout the day - often a primary school. For the past 15 years they have been holding the Balloons Over Waikato and it is quite an event for the town.

Agent Smelly reading and listening to music whilst waiting for dusk to fall.

This year I took Agent Smelly to the highlight of the Festival which is the orchestrated Balloon Glow Show and a dramatic fireworks finale. (The Fashionista was also there with a school friend and her family and we met up afterwards). Whilst waiting for the "Night Glow" there are bands playing live music which I have to say was really very good. A lot of modern yet popular tunes with some very recognisable older and always popular songs. I quite enjoyed watching the small children amongst the very large crowd dancing away to the tunes. 

The balloons glow to orchestrated music finishing with the best fireworks display in town. Here's a picture taken with my phone. It is a huge even and we were quite a distance from the balloons. Unfortunately the weather was starting to change as we were there so the weirdly shaped balloons did not get put up as they were concerned about the weather conditions.

Photo taken from the Balloons Over Waikato website as linked above.

As it was the rain started, albeit gently, just a few minutes after the fireworks finished and we were walking across the fields back to the car. Unfortunately the final lift off the next morning had to be cancelled due to the inclement weather setting in.

Remembering a camera would have been handy ...

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