St Michael’s students dance to world beat

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Students at St Michael’s Catholic Primary Belfield took their audience to the moon and back with a dance concert inspired by a plane trip to countries around the world.

The Kindergarten to Year 6 classes took cues from cultures and places including Africa, China, and the Caribbean – with a side trip to the moon after a spot of turbulence – for the performance of Destination Unknown.

The concert was a way for parents to see the dance skills their children had learnt as part of the creative and performing arts element of their curriculum in Term 1.

Dance teacher Carla Colagrossi said she chose the theme to give the students, including first-time dancers, an insight into both movement and cultures around the globe. It is the second time she has taught dance at the school after a stint in 2013.

“I’ve tried to keep the steps simple at first,” she said.

“If I feel like something is too difficult while I’m teaching, I’ll modify it to make it easier or sometimes I’ll have students change patterns to make it look more dynamic.

“The dances are based on a jazz, commercial funk [style]. With some of the older classes I took more of a hip-hop and contemporary approach to the choreography for something a bit more advanced. There was also a lot of character dancing.

“It’s really endearing to see the kids enjoy dance and be really inquisitive about it. I had even boys asking me questions and some of the younger kids wanted the names of the songs so they could practice in their own time.”

After a flight safety demonstration, Year 5 students including Elissa Mouawad, 10, opened the concert with a stop in France and a Can-Can inspired routine, followed by a stop in Texas by Year 1.

“All of us really like the choreography we were given,” said Elissa.

“It’s really fun, and we like our costumes because we feel unique.”

Scarves and beanies were a must for the Kindergarten students’ stop in icy Antarctica where they danced to songs from Disney film favourite Frozen.

The next destinations were India for a taste of Bollywood, Italy, and the Caribbean, where Year 4 students brought colour and energy to the stage dressed in bright board shorts, t-shirts and tropical flowers.

Kindergarten had an alien encounter on the moon, Year 3 ‘walked’ like locals in Egypt, and Year 2 did some Kung Fu fighting, dance-style, in China.

“It’s pretty good, we learnt it in six weeks,” said Jay Phillips, 7.

“Our dance was on the theme of China and it’s about us,” said Sophia Mauro, 7. “We’re Kung Fu fighters. It’s a bit hard because we can forget the moves.”

All of us really like the choreography we were given

– Elissa Mouawad, student

Year 6 students including Ellie Abouharb, Anthony Maroun, Frankie Divito and Stephanie Abdennour danced to a Lion King medley to represent Africa, their destination and the concert’s final stop.

“We’re all different animals and the king of the tribe calls us together to dance,” said Stephanie, who studies dance and yoga outside of school.

“Some boys at the start think that it’s very embarrassing to dance, but once they feel comfortable with it they enjoy it. It’s really good because it helps kids to be more active.”

Anthony said he chose to move like a gorilla in the dance’s opening sequence.

“We do these steps we’re not familiar with, but I know it off by heart now and it’s not hard,” he said.

“This was even learning about other people’s religions and cultures and how they live in different areas of the world.”

Frankie said he liked learning to dance.

“It’s a little hard and complicated because I’m not a dancer, I’m a soccer player,” he said.

“We all do it because it’s part of the curriculum and we enjoy it.”

Ellie, who also dances outside of school and was chosen to be part of the 2015 Catholic Schools Performing Arts (CaSPA) program, said she enjoyed learning the tribal dance inspired by Africa.

“At the beginning it was hard because I had never done that style of dance before,” she said.

“It was a bit different, but as the weeks progressed I got used to the positions my body had to be in. I actually love this dance.”

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