The highly anticipated VAST Dance Festival took place on Thursday the 15th of August at the Theatre Royal. Nayland was well-represented by both performers and technical and backstage crew.
VAST has been going for the last few years. It was started by a group of local dance teachers and enthusiasts in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, after the Trafalgar Centre was shut for remedial work and the iconic Stage Challenge competition was cancelled.
The day-long fiesta sees students from the different schools dividing their time between rehearsing for their evening performances and participating in dance workshops, ranging from salsa to Bollywood, and contemporary to belly dance.
Year 11 dance students Jack Nolan and Aira Quirimit said it was good to try out new styles. Aira chose belly dance, while Jack chose Inspire Yoga. “It sounds like yoga but it really wasn’t,” he said. “What’s really cool about it is that none of the moves are broken down like in a normal dance class. You learn the base moves and you learn five different ways of doing them and the teacher dances with you to music and you just follow along and you change the moves how you like.”
Each school has the opportunity to perform three items in the evening show. This year’s Nayland performances included Legacy, an energetic mash-up and hip-hop-themed number based on several Nayland dances from the last few years and choreographed by year 12 student Ella O’Donohue, assisted by Jack.
Another Nayland performance was by Rhylei Tremlett who performed Ominous, a solo piece featuring impressive body isolations. “Conveying a sense of what is to come, this solo choreography aims to communicate a dark, brooding feel,” the programme read.
Nayland’s third piece, Rain, came out of Nayland’s NCEA dance class and was choreographed by Michelle Berla ,who also choreographed the school production of Oliver!
Jack and Aira were pleased with their performances and say they couldn’t have done it without the enthusiastic participation of the international students, some of whom had only just arrived at the beginning of the term.
This year it was also Nayland’s turn to provide the technical talent to run the show. To that end, a group of dedicated students took on vital sound and lighting, stage management and backstage roles. Drama teacher Anton Bentley says that these roles are challenging, as the students only have 10 minutes to get the run-down on what they need to do and then just have to “tweak and tweak as they go.”
All in all, this year's VAST was a huge success. "It’s a fantastic opportunity to go and see what other schools are doing in their dance classes and dance groups (...) and it’s just a wonderful, positive atmosphere, so people just feel free to share. It’s great,” dance teacher Verity Davidson said.