All welcome at CaSPA LiVE

Hundreds of budding singers and dancers from across Sydney were invited to be part of CaSPA LiVE for the first time this year, creating a show that was bigger and better than ever.

Students from CaSPA’s regional squads, which invite children and young people from years 5 to 11 to train and perform in venues close to home, were included in the showcase event for the first time, and avoided the stressful audition process traditionally associated with being part of the show’s cast.

Sisters Isabella and Sandra Taffa were among the performers. They joined the Inner Western Regional Squad with their mother’s encouragement after she found a flyer advertising the program, and agreed it was a great way to build their skills and confidence without the considerable time commitment of the auditioned programs.

Their fortnightly squad practices, which ran for six evenings across terms 1 and 2, included warm ups, sing-a-longs and dance rehearsals, but performing with CaSPA LiVE was a program highlight for both sisters.

Sandra and Isabella Taffa.

“It was incredible – it gives you confidence in performing in front of people and all the big lights and seeing what it actually feels like to be an actor, a dancer and a singer,” said Sandra.

“I was amazed at how different aspects of arts can be put into one performance and it can show a huge message and make such a big impact,” added Isabella.

Only members of CaSPA’s auditioned ensembles, which each major in one of dance, drama or voice, have traditionally performed in its annual live show. Ensemble members were still the exclusive performers during this year’s 4 June opening night at Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College, but were joined by squad members for subsequent shows in three regions: east, south and inner west.

Regional squad members learned songs and dances from pivotal moments and joined in with central cast members to present an even more exciting show, which included a range of story-based scenes, songs and dance numbers.

The Taffas and other performers felt the show tackled topics with real personal relevance, including freedom, identity, bullying and acceptance from parents.

I was amazed at how different aspects of arts can be put into one performance

– Isabella Taffa

“The first scene was about kids and what their parents wanted them to be,” said Addison Efremidis, a St Raphael’s Primary School South Hurstville student who performs as part of the CaSPA drama ensemble.

“The kids were saying ‘I have my own dreams, I should be able to choose what I want to do’, and as we went through the show the parents learned how their kids felt.”

“At the start of the show the kids said ‘who am I, who should I become?’ At the end of the show they said ‘I know who I am I know who I’ll become’.”

Including the regional squads in the CaSPA LiVE performance is one of a number of changes the program has made to encourage students to get involved and connect with other artists and performers, reflecting the reality that few artists succeed solo.

CaSPA Education Officer Elizabeth Mullane said the quality of the final performance reflected the hard work of students across all regions and disciplines.

“It’s always an exciting evening. You think they’re not going to make it – but they lift,” she said.

CaSPA’s history

· CaSPA began when Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) students were invited to perform at a celebration of 2000 years of Christianity at Sydney Olympic Park.

· Following the jubilee, the program continued as the SCS performance arm.

· The program has expanded considerably but maintains the central focus on dance, drama and voice that ensured the success of its first performance

What’s new

· Regional squads held in the east, south and inner west allow more students to be part of CaSPA.

· Regional squads meet and practice on select Wednesday nights across terms 1 and 2, and focus on singing and movement.

· CaSPA LiVE has expanded to include the new regional squads, adding extra performances.

· Dancemaking has been added to CaSPA’s suite of gifted programs, joining songwriting, scriptwriting and filmmaking.

· Musicians have been invited to join the CaSPA Youth Ministry Band, which will play alongside industry professionals.

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