DanceNZMade is an interschool dance competition run by professional dancer Dean McKerras. This annual competition travels around New Zealand theatres, running full day workshops for students and giving them an immersive experience in competitive dance on the stage.
In August 2018, Woodford House entered DanceNZMade for the second time, this year with an even bigger group of 11 girls, most of whom had little or no experience in dance. For many of the girls, this was their first time learning and rehearsing a full routine. However, several weeks worth of hard work and commitment led to a positive experience for every girl involved.
The Woodford House team, ‘Little Party’ was led by two students – choreographer, Annabelle Fenn and coordinator, Giorgia Hickey. The team was also comprised of fellow students Olivia Dowley, Rebekka Schulze, Ella Ruddle, Emma Jackson, Alia Wentz, Harriet Mackenzie, Alanah Price, Kate Richards, and Nicole Parnell.
The girls faced a few trials throughout the rehearsal process; the dancers involved had to be flexible and try to find the best way to resolve issues in the way that would best support the team. The choreography was also a little difficult, but all the girls worked hard at it and proved they were up to the challenge. And as Woodford House girls are so busy, it was difficult for many to make all the practices, and so the luxury of a full dancer rehearsal was something we never had until the day itself!
Accompanied by Miss Rieter, Mrs Mackenzie and Gap student, Lea Ormeloh, the day began sat alongside an overwhelming number of dancers from various schools at Napier Municipal Theatre, being greeted by our talented tutors for the day. Woodford House first took part in a contemporary dance workshop, and later a musical theatre / jazz workshop. We also got to watch all the other teams have their rehearsals, and so we were all immersed in several dance styles and genres, some of which we’d never seen before.
The evening was comprised of pizza, fluorescent costumes, make up, and that pre-performance euphoria that all people in the performing arts experience. At 6pm, the competition started with the soloist section, in which the rest of the team supported our Woodford House soloists Giorgia Hickey with Feminist, Annabelle Fenn with Thunder and finally Lovely by Rebekka Schulze, to whom congratulations are in order for coming out with a well-deserved third place. The team performance itself was the highlight of the day, with added adrenaline bringing the best run through yet from the dancers.
One of the best attributes of the DanceNZMade competition in particular is the values it holds; all the competitors are about giving it a go, no matter how confident, competent or experienced you are. The only thing that matters is personally growing your skills and getting something out of the experience. The competition is relaxed, and although there were some amazing teams out there, everyone is sportsmanlike and positive. It’s all about the dance, and that is why it is such a valuable experience that we hope to get even more Woodford House girls involved in 2019.
Annabelle Fenn, Year 11