Show Class Co-ordinators

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Are you a “people person” – well organised, keen to be part of the success of the show, able to keep cool, calm and collected, and be sympathetic to the nerves and concerns of dancers and their parents/caregivers?

Co-ordinators have a pivotal role in helping the show to be a success by being very involved in the lead up, and the show, and helping to make sure the dancers and their parents know what they are expected to be doing and where they need to be when.

The main role involves communication.  Co-ordinators are the central person in each class group who receives all the messages, and needs to attend any costuming and logistical meetings as we lead up to the show, making sure that all information is quickly passed on to the rest of their group. Parents in the group should also be asking any questions they have to the class co-ordinator so the teachers are able to spend their time working with the dancers, and only a small group of selected helpers.

Each co-ordinators is given a list of the children in their particular class group and their contact details. And what does the co-ordinator need to do?

  1. Be proactive! Make sure you know who all the children in your group are, who their parents/caregivers are, and that they know who you are.  Also get to know any ‘special needs’ that affect any of those in your group.
  2. Is anyone missing off this list?  Also make sure their name is spelled correctly – this is what goes into the programme and we don’t want any tears later.
  3. Who’s in the show (we don’t need to be sending emails, thinking about costumes etc for those who choose not to be in the show), and have they paid show fees?
  4. Make sure that parents are aware that this is a big commitment and that the scheduled practices are essential to make it all work – the co-ordinator needs to make sure that each dancer and their parent/caregiver knows when and where they need to be for classes, rehearsals, costume fittings and performances.
  5. Is anyone on this list on another class list also – work co-operatively with other co-ordinators and decide which group they should be in.
  6. What dances are each of the dancers in? – this may be a bit unclear at the start but parents/dancers will soon get this sorted out – very important for costuming.
  7. Keep up with what’s happening in each of the dances your group is involved in too.
  8. What other groups are in the same dance –liaise with other co-ordinators when several classes are involved in one dance – establish who your ‘partners’ are, work together, and make life simpler.
  9. Make sure that each child (and their parent/caregiver) in the group knows what clothing and shoes they need to have themselves.
  10. Get estimated sizes of each child – this makes it easier for those making costumes
  11. Find out who in each group can help with any of the other important tasks in getting the show together:- there will be lists at the studio as the show gets closer for volunteers to help backstage and in the dressing rooms at the theatre, and also the ‘party’ between the Saturday shows.
  12. Find out who in each group are the sewers, helpers who can cut out, do hand-sewing, and help with sorting suitable costumes from our substantial array of costumes, and fittings? Lots of inspiration is always greatly appreciated for costume and headgear ideas and we have a very resourceful and creative group of parents and caregivers in the studio who we sometimes need help to find.
  13. Make sure that all the costumes for the class group are gathered together and ready to be packed into the theatre on pack-in day.
  14. At the theatre the co-ordinator will need to be responsible for their group and the ‘running’ of their dressing room too.  This does not mean the co-ordinator needs to be backstage for every show but they do need to know what’s happening with their group and that those backstage helping know what they need to be doing.
  15. After the show is over make sure that all costumes are sorted and either ready for pack out on the Sunday or allocated out for washing etc after the last performance so they can be returned to the studio as soon as possible.

It looks like a long list but all pretty straight forward and common sense really.  Being a co-ordinator gives you the opportunity to be an integral part of the fun and excitement that is the show, get to know the other dancers in your child’s class, and their parents/caregivers.  Make the difference and get involved – you won’t regret it!

Dancers meet health challenge

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A group of dancers from Peta Spooner Dance Academy are raising awareness of asthma through steps and movement.

It was all song and dance at Fashion Island yesterday.

Dance for Asthma is the theme for this year’s Asthma Awareness Week, and a group of dancers from Peta Spooner Dance Academy put on a show for bystanders yesterday to raise awareness.

Nelson Asthma Society manager Hilary Croft said there were about 3800 under-15-year-olds in the Nelson region and that one in four children in New Zealand struggled to blow up a balloon because of their asthma.

Dance academy owner Peta Spooner said she was happy to have her dancers involved in supporting such a good cause.

“Heart, asthma, cancer, anything to do with health and promoting awareness for the kids who are healthy, we always support it,” she said.

One of the dancers, 16-year-old Hamish McIntosh, said he sometimes suffered from asthma.

Luckily, it didn’t affect his dancing very often, he said.

Keeping it under control so he could continue dancing was important.

Ms Spooner agreed, and said that asthma should not deter anyone from dancing.

“It’s like anything, nothing stops you from doing what you love.”

As part of Asthma Awareness Week, information tables have been set up around the region each day. A table will be set up outside the Farmers store in Nelson on Friday.

Ms Croft said the tables had resources and brochures about how to keep asthma under control.

She encourages those with asthma to work with their health professionals, have an asthma management plan, use their preventers regularly and to get their free flu vaccinations.

“Having asthma shouldn’t stop you from doing anything,” she said.

Ms Croft also launched the first of the Richmond Better Breathing Classes yesterday.

“They are designed to help you breathe better and enhance your quality of life.”

Lasting passion finds fulfilment on stage

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DEDICATED AND DRIVEN: Alice Macann first started dancing at the age of 3 and has now joined Footnote Dance as a company dancer.

Alice Macann remembers watching company members from Footnote Dance as a child and wishing she could join them.

She had a bit of growing to do first, but her dream came true this year.

Macann has joined Footnote Dance as a company dancer, after three years at the New Zealand Schhol of Dance.

“It was the most amazing three years of my life. I gained so much. It was definitely challenging, but it was a dream come true, or the beginning of my dream,” she said from Wellington before Easter, after being let off an afternoon rehearsal.

The 20-year-old will be in Nelson next week, for the premier of Made in New Zealand with Footnote Dance at the Suter Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of Heritage Week.

Macann will then fly back to Wellington the following Thursday for the opening of another show a day later.

“It’s go, go, go,” she said.

Made in New Zealand features four choreographed dance pieces by four New Zealanders set to music also composed by Kiwis.

Sarah Foster’s piece, Trance Like Happiness, is influenced by a trip to Israel and Southern Cross, by Clare O’Neil, is about coming back to New Zealand after a decade abroad.

Macann, who performs in three of the four pieces, said (SEX) by Ross McCormack focused on flesh, physicality and the feelings created around sex. Malia Johnson’s In Pieces was about the body falling apart and putting it back together.

“Each work is about something different, but I think they all complement each other well,” she said.

Sitting in the audience at the Suter Theatre next week, bursting with pride, will be Peta Spooner, of the Peta Spooner School of Dance.

Ms Spooner saw Macann graduate from the New Zealand School of Dance alongside Nelson’s Kimiora Grey at the end of last year and said it was like seeing one’s own children graduate from university.

“It was incredibly moving. I felt absolutely so proud,” she said.

Macann started ballet when she was 3 and moved on to modern dance, working with Ms Spooner for eight years.

Ms Spooner said Macann, who moved to Nelson from Wellington when she was 9, was driven, dedicated and passionate about dance.

“Alice is a worker. She loves a challenge. Really, all I did was nurture her development,” she said.

Ms Spooner said Macann was a girl when she left Nelson, at 17, to join the New Zealand School of Dance, but she was now grown up.

“She’s beautiful. She’s a gorgeous-looking girl. The studio and the teachers who have been part of her life are very proud. It’s hard to get into anything these days. We’re just absolutely over the moon,” she said.

Macann said she always made sure to visit Ms Spooner when she was back in Nelson.

“She sparked my passion for dance. She’s an amazing person and creates a really great environment to learn,” she said.

Graduating from the New Zealand School of Dance last year was the end of an era, but it was also exciting to go on to bigger and better things.

“I remember when Footnote used to come to Nelson when I was little. I used to watch them and wish that I could be in the company, so it’s amazing that I’m here now,” she said.

  • Footnote Dance presents Made in New Zealand at the Suter Theatre, 7.30pm Tuesday and Wednesday. Tickets from Everyman Records in Hardy St.

Ballet programme moves to Nelson

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A strand of the Canterbury Ballet School is moving to Nelson in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes, which have robbed the school of its original central city premises and destroyed the confidence of prospective dance students unwilling to chance it in the still shaky city.

The school’s principal, Taisia Missevich, said she planned to shift a foundation course to Nelson and begin a new fulltime accredited dance trainee programme, to operate from the Peta Spooner Academy of Dance.

She had applied for the dance trainee programme to be accredited through the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, with the aim of attracting stronger interest in what was typically a two-year course.

The Canterbury Ballet School has launched the international careers of a number of young dancers over the 30 years it has been operating, including that of Christine Owen, who danced with the San Diego Ballet, and recent graduate Lily Cartwright, who is now with the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Canterbury Ballet also runs a youth dance company, and has plans for a new bridging company, which Ms Missevich would also like to shift to Nelson.

The bridging company would do performances for schools, using local dancers. Ms Missevich said she had already checked out venues, and Nelson’s Theatre Royal was entirely suitable.

She said she was not turning her back on Christchurch. Like many in the city, she had become used to the earthquakes, but she understood why the city would not appeal to new students.

“If you’ve not been through what we’ve been through, it’s hard to understand, but if you’re the mother of a 17-year-old, I can see why you wouldn’t want to send your daughter here.”

Ms Missevich said students came to the academy from around the country and occasionally from overseas.

After last February’s quake, several “terrified” students who had planned to start a month later pulled out.

Canterbury Ballet was closed for three months last year after its Montreal St studios were a writeoff because of the quake. It shifted to new premises in Middleton.

Ms Missevich said the aim now was to start operating aspects of the school from Nelson by the middle of this year. She sent the school’s fulltime dancers to the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington after the quake so they could keep up their training for the New Prague Dance Festival and Competition, which they attended a few months ago.

She said the plan was to use dance tutors in Nelson and the ballet school’s usual visiting tutors for faculty programmes.

Ms Missevich said she had known Ms Spooner for about 25 years, and the idea to move some of the school’s programmes to Nelson came about after a recent get-together. “I came to visit Peta and we started talking and started looking into the future.”

Nutcracker delight for kids

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IN REHEARSAL: Nutcracker dancers, from left, Lily Warner, Ellie Edwy, Lauren Hammond and Fiona Saunders.

The Nelson Symphony Orchestra is to visit the Land of Sweets this Saturday, with a set of three children’s shows.

Children will be invited to “meet the instruments” before a combined show with Peta Spooner Academy of Dance dancers, performing a mix of traditional ballet and expressive modern dance.

The orchestra – playing Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite – and dancers will paint a story adapted from The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, narrated by Hugh Neill.

The show follows Clara – portrayed by Lily Warner – in her quest for the Nutcracker her uncle gave her, which was stolen by the Rat King.

The Sugar Plum Fairy sends Clara on a journey to the Land of Sweets and a prince comes to Clara’s aid and the Nutcracker’s rescue.

Nelson Symphony Orchestra oboe player Frances Rae said the show was a great way to expose young dancers and children in the audience to live orchestral music.

  • The Nutcracker, Nelson School of Music, this Saturday at 10.30am, 1pm and 3pm. Tickets $10 from

Peta Spooner

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  • Examiner International Dance Teachers Association
  • F.I.D.T.A.Ballet
  • F.D.T.A.Mod/Jazz
  • F.I.D.T.A. Freestyle, Dance Ex. Dip (Hons)
  • A.I.S.T.D. Mod. (London)
  • Assoc. Dip. I.S.T.D. (Cecchetti) Ballet

While excellence is my goal, I strive to provide a positive learning environment for all students to enjoy.

My intention is for everybody to achieve, have the opportunity to perform, and to become an appreciative audience for others.

I pass on to all my teachers I train, my philosophy of integrity and fairness.

I am always extremely proud of my students, both past and present for their achievements.

My hope is for each student’s life to be richer for this experience.

Jane Pascoe

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  • F.I.D.T.A-Modern Jazz
  • L.I.D.T.A-Ballet
  • A.I.D.T.A-Theatre Craft
  • A.I.D.T.A-Freestyle
  • Dance Exercise Diploma (Hons)

With over 10 years of training and experience behind her Jane Pascoe is qualified to teach Modern Jazz, Classical Ballet, Theatre Craft, Power Yoga, Dance Exercise and Freestyle Dance.

Jane holds Fellowships in Modern Jazz and Classical Ballet. This is the highest teaching qualification obtainable in dance. Professional development is something Jane is totally committed to. It adds to the quality of teaching that is passed onto her students.

Jane’s breadth of experience ranges from Pre School to adults for recreation and professional Training and in 2011 she added Power Yoga to her list  of teaching qualifications. Her dance students and the wider community have responded enthusiastically to these classes and she is excited about the prospect of its future growth.

Jane currently teaches in Nelson, Richmond and Upper Moutere, along with schools and the wider community. The environment that is fostered throughout all the classes is quite unique; something Jane has taken from her training at Peta Spooner Academy of Dance.

Newcomers are always welcome.

Contact Jane for more information on Dance and Yoga classes in the areas she teaches in.

Elle Marquet

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Elle Marquet

F.I.D.T.A Ballet, I.D.T.A Diploma in Anatomy & Physiology

A passionate dancer from a young age, I was fortunate enough to join the Peta Spooner Academy of Dance in 2006 and have never looked back. Gaining my Fellowship Ballet qualification in 2012 was a career highlight and I look forward to further professional training under the mentoring of Peta.

Working full-time outside of the studio means I have spent the majority of my teaching career with senior students and whether it is choreography, exam preparation, syllabus or unseen work, I strive to keep classes fresh and unique. My goal is to share my own passion for dance in order to see that passion come alive in our students.

I thoroughly enjoy the rewards of teaching dance, the enjoyment our students get is second to none and while always aiming to achieve their best they make lifelong friends along the way.

Valerie Roche

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Valerie Roche

ARAD registered teacher

Valerie is a life member of the Royal Academy of Dance, she danced professionally as a member of the Alexandre Babes and the Lehmiski Ladies in Pantomimes in Birmingham England, her place of birth.

After emigrating to the United States in 1961, settling in Omaha Nebraska. She  established the Omaha Academy of Ballet (1962), the Omaha Ballet Company (1964) and the Dance program at Creighton University (1974), where she continued to teach until coming to New Zealand with her Kiwi husband Percy in 2002.

In addition to ballet Valerie has trained in tap, acrobatics, national character dance, musical theatre, and contemporary dance styles, She has Choreographed extensively for opera, and musicals as well as ballet productions. She has taught for Peta Spooner since 2004 and loves teaching enthusiastic students.