Performing Arts

Kapa Haka retains Top 10 spot at Polyfest

Click here to watch part of the group's performance on the Maori TV website

Mount Albert Grammar's Kapa Haka group put on a stunning performance the ASB Polyfest on Saturday, 18 March, to come 9th in Auckland. This retains our place in the prestigious first division.

Forty seven students from Years 9-13 performed a 30 minute set of seven disciplines - an entrance item, a choral piece, a traditional chant, an action song, a poi item, a haka and an exit piece.

They were judged on their performance and command of te reo against 50 other groups competing across three divisions.

Mount Albert Grammar came 7th for reo, and 9th for performance, claiming 9th place overall.

Head of Te Puna o Wairaka, Ms Waimirirangi Paul, said this was an impressive achievement when MAGS was up against schools with bi-lingual and full immersion units, and who had performers who competed nationally.

"Our group rehearsed several times a week since January, including weekends staying at marae. They not only wrote and choreographed original pieces, they also learned elements of weaponry to incorporate into their performance, made costumes and submitted a written translation and explanation of the meaning behind each item," said Ms Paul.

A number of Albertians returned to assist in the group's preparation, and Ms Paul was also grateful for the support of parents and staff. She acknowledged the leadership of Year 13 members Waimarie Hunia and Kahurangi Morehu.

"The students represented the school strongly and with much pride," said Ms Paul.

Fairytale show for young audience

Two Year 10 and three Year 9 Drama classes delighted primary students from Balmoral School with a series of masked performances of childrens’ picture books and TS Elliot's poetry.

The Balmoral Year 1 and 2 students visited MAGS' Drama department on Friday, 2 December, to see a variety of performances, including masked interpretations of The Jungle Book, The Lion King, The Elephant’s Child and Jemima Puddleduck and the poems Macavity, Skimbleshanks and Growltiger’s Last Stand.

Head of Drama Dr Lilicherie McGregor said the Year 10 students spent the term making their masks and learning about the art of masked performance which required them to use slapstick humour and audience interaction to tell a story. The young audience loved it and took part by responding enthusiastically to prompts from the actors.

Dr McGregor says the inter-school exercise gave primary students exposure to how much fun Drama could be at high school, and provided the MAGS students with a receptive audience to gain a different style of performance experience.

After the show both groups of students met for a fun filled 20 minutes of interaction as the MAGS students helped the Balmoral children try on their masks.

MAGS' Head of Arts made Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

Ms Milica Zjajic-Moon, the Head of MAGS' Faculty of Arts and Head of Music, has been made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts based in London.

"This is a huge honour and I am very humbled," says Ms Moon, "and the thing I am happiest about is the variety of opportunities my fellowship unlocks for our students. We can now enter competitions open only to students of Fellows, which are sponsored by international corporations with prize money worth tens of thousands of pounds."

Ms Moon will also be able to collaborate with other Fellows around the world, enhancing the Arts programme MAGS can offer.

The Society was formed in 1754 to "embolden enterprise, enlarge science, refine art (and) extend our commerce". Fellows include Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin and Professor Stephen Hawking. Today the RSA describes itself as "an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges", and includes more than 2000 Fellows elected from 80 countries, including social entrepreneurs, scientists, community leaders, commercial innovators, artists, journalists, architects, engineers, and those from many other occupations who have demonstrated achievement or potential related to the arts, manufacture and commerce. The RSA's patron is Queen Elizabeth II.

New Fellows must be nominated by two existing members, and then elected. Ms Moon does not know who nominated her, assuming they are among the network of contacts she has built up through the arts and education in New Zealand and overseas.

She has been invited to the the Society's offices in London, and is looking forward to meeting its international co-ordinator during a planned trip to Europe over the summer holidays.

Arts concerts showcase a rich diversity of talent

Polished performances by singers, dancers, actors and, for the first time, a performance poet, made the annual Junior Bytes and Arts Alive concerts into highlights of the school year.

Junior students presented their show on Tuesday, 20 September and Seniors the following evening, both at the Centennial Theatre at Auckland Grammar School. Each was a showcase of the best performances of the year from subject assessments and public offerings.

They included excerpts from the school production, Grimm's Tales, dances selected for Auckland dance festivals YouDance and Tempo, and performances by our award-winning Strings Orchestra and Jazz Band. The new Headmaster's Choir, Ad Augusta, directed by choir master Mr Christian Malietoa-Brown, was breathtaking in their rendition of the 11th century Latin hymn Alma Redemptoris Mater. Performance poet Jonathan Buckman introduced the audience to the work of MAGS' Spoken Word group with his original poem about refugees, Friends.

Headmaster Mr Patrick Drumm presented our top Performing Arts students with Junior Arts Badges and the Senior Arts Lions at the conclusion of each show.

Headmaster's Choir impresses with first performance

Click here to listen

Mount Albert Grammar's newest singing group, the Headmaster's Choir, gave a breathtaking first performance at assembly on Monday, 29 August.

Singing a Latin hymn from the 11th Century called Alma Redemptoris Mater, directed by choir master Mr Christian Malietoa-Brown, the group sounded larger than their 24 members, and far more experienced than the mere four weeks they have had together since forming.

Headmaster Mr Patrick Drumm said he was motivated to launch the choir to build on the tradition of choral strength in Mount Albert Grammar's history. He hopes this group will grow larger, other choirs will form, and that next year MAGS will once again compete at Auckland's annual Big Sing secondary schools event.

"We all sing the school song at every assembly and prizegiving, and music is an important part of MAGS' life. I saw this as another opportunity to enhance the choral arts at the school, and build on the school's sense of community and culture," said Mr Drumm.

He was particularly pleased with the range of students keen to be part of the choir - boys and girls of a variety of nationalities and all year levels. "The exciting thing is that our young people want to be part of this story; it's part of the MAGS Way to get involved and learn something new."

The choir will gain performance experience at MAGS' Arts Alive concert on 21 September, at the next Albertians Lunch on 22 September, and in visits to local primary and intermediate schools in December.

Year 11 Drama presents Love & Information

Year 11 Drama students staged an unusual play for their families on Tuesday, 23 August, called Love and Information.

Written by English dramatist Caryl Churchill, the play is comprised of 57 short scenes, mimicking the digital world of text and tweet messages. Head of Drama, Dr Lilicherie McGregor, said the students enjoyed experimenting with the groundbreaking structure of the play, and creating meaning for their selected scenes.

Between each act, student Billy McColl played keyboard, with Eric Lee, Vena-Rose Lennane and Xander Pou on vocals. Xavier Wong-See performed excerpts of the dance Va’a a le Pasifika.

"Rehearsing and performing a class production brings students together as an ensemble, where they support each other in their artistic endeavours," said Dr McGregor. "It is always a joy to see the students working as one and offering their best for an audience."

Silver and Bronze at KBB Music Festival

The String Chamber Orchestra won Bronze

The Jazz Band won Silver

Two of MAGS' music groups won medals at the 2016 KBB Music Festival, held at St Mary's Church in Parnell on 16-17 August.

The String Chamber Orchestra won Bronze in only their second outing in the competition, and the Jazz Band won Silver. This is the third year in a row the Jazz Band has come in the top three, earning Bronze last year and Silver in 2014.

The KBB Music Festival showcases the best in secondary school orchestras, concert bands and stage bands from across the Auckland region. More than 135 groups take part from more than 50 schools.

The String Chamber Orchestra is directed by Ms Loata Mahe, a former student of MAGS' Head of Music Ms Milica Zjajic-Moon. They played five pieces, including an original work by student Emma Moon.

The Jazz Band, accompanied by vocalists and directed by Albertian Ben Sinclair, played five pieces, including I Feel Good by James Brown, Bye Bye Love and the New Zealand hit For Today.

The MAGS Concert Band, directed by Ms Zjajic-Moon, played a seven-piece set in the non-competitive Festival section, and also received glowing praise.

MAGS dancers win Gold at World Championships

Click here to watch The Bradas Gold medal-winning performance

A hip-hop dance crew made up of current and former MAGS dancers has won back to back Gold at the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas.

The Bradas includes Year 13 student Jackson Tuarae and Albertians Riley Bourne, Gabriel Sutton and Nathan Kara. They are part of ID Co, headed by Albertian Josh Cesan.

MAGS Head of Dance, Ms Jacqui Cesan, said the boys won their second Gold medal in convincing style ahead of 57 teams from 35 countries. Their performance included references to haka, and brought the audience of 10,000 people to its feet.

More than 260 teams from 50 countries competed across the Championships' divisions. Year 13 students Celia Hext and Maria Wrassky Bulmer were part of the Masque crew which came fourth out of 71 crews in the 13-18 year old category, and Josh Cesan's Mega Crew came fourth out of 58 crews in his division.

Spoken Word poets into Auckland finals

MAGS' team of performance poets is into the final of the Auckland schools competition, Word - The Front Line, to be held at the Town Hall on Saturday, 27 August.

Pictured from left are Vaibhav Nayyar, Abby Irwin, Joseph McNamara, Harshita Nayyar, Shannon Hoole. Absent is Ethan Taumaoe.

The students made it through an initial round to take part in two months of workshops to improve their writing and performance skills, including a weekend camp. They went up against 11 other teams in the semi-finals, and are now one of six teams to compete in the final.

Described as an "explosion of youth expression", the event is a high-energy and confronting performance of teenagers' views, with an atmosphere more akin to a rock concert.

Word - The Front Line, 27 August, 7pm, Auckland Town Hall, Tickets: Adults $15, students $10 from

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra mentors students

A partnership between MAGS and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra saw four APO musicians visit the school music studio to work with students on Sunday, 7 August.

Violinists Mr Mark Bennett and Ms Dianna Cochrane, viola player Ms Christine Bowie and cellist Mr James Yoo spent four hours working with members of our String Orchestra in sections, and then together. Head of Music, Ms Milica Zjajic-Moon, said the students enjoyed "the intense and inspiring workshop, and learned a lot."

Earlier this year MAGS orchestra members attended a free concert by the APO at the Auckland Town Hall.

Living history at Alberton

Year 10 and 11 drama students used historic Alberton and the family who lived there to devise scenes for performances for Level 1 assessment.

Head of Drama Dr Lilicherie McGregor says groups of students chose characters from the family tree of the Kerr Taylor family, who lived at Alberton for 109 years. They then devised scenes suited to their chosen room in the house, with a theme relevant to the period. Stories included a sister getting involved in the women's suffrage movement of the late 1800s, and a daughter dying in the 1918 flu epidemic, and another daughter eloping with her sister’s intended fiancé.

A volunteer from Alberton visited the students during rehearsals to tell them about attitudes and etiquette during that time in history. Period costumes were hired from the Playhouse Theatre in Glen Eden, and the scenes performed before a live audience which moved between rooms with the actors.

Dr McGregor was pleased with the "high standard of consistency between the groups' performances." She extended the school's thanks to Alberton for hosting the programme.

Music Concert 2016

"I Feel Good" was the theme of the MAGS' Music Concert of 2016, and an appreciative audience was left with a spring in their step from performances that spanned the musical genres.

Held at the Raye Freedman Arts Centre on Thursday, 30 June, Head of Music Ms Milica Zjajic-Moon conducted the orchestra through a variety of works ranging 1970s and 1980s compilations, to 'Tijuana Brass in Concert' and 'All I Want for Christmas is You'.

Performances by the Gospel Choir and Pasifika group Lost Groovement, which won an Auckland competition last week, were interspersed with songs by the MAGS Rock Band, Girls Barbershop Quartet and soloist Alex London.

The String Orchestra performed to high standard that has seen them booked for public events, and the award-winning Jazz Band had feet tapping with their upbeat sound, enhanced by vocalists Siosiua Atuekaho, Salote Filoi, Lileekatre Ieriko and Cyprus Taumaoe.

Ms Zjajic-Moon commended the artists of all 24 items for their dedication to rehearsal and performance, and she in turn was applauded for staging another impressive concert.

Year 12 presents The Caucasian Chalk Circle

The second Year 12 production for the year was held in the Drama Room on Monday and Tuesday, 27-28 June. Students presented their interpretation of The Causasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht, a play which follows the fortunes of a young girl on the run in search of a safe haven during a time of war and revolution. She adopts a child and is determined to protect him, even if it means being separated from her fiance, and being forced to fight for the right to be acknowledged as the child’s true mother.

The growth in Year 12 Drama enabled two productions to be held this year. Last week saw performances of Metamorphoses, based on the myths of Ovid, written and originally directed by Mary Zimmerman.

Head of Drama Dr Lilicherie McGregor says the two plays were chosen to give each student a substantial role to fulfil their NCEA requirements, and work on a play that was challenging, interesting, educational and fun.

Year 12 presents Metamorphoses

The growth in Year 12 Drama has enabled two separate productions this year. This week saw two performances of Metamorphoses, based on the myths of Ovid, written and originally directed by Mary Zimmerman. It featured nine stories of transformation, with a common theme of love and loss, and the desire to stay connected to a loved one in the afterlife.

Next Monday and Tuesday, 27-28 June, other Year 12 Drama students will present The Causasian Chalk Circle at 7pm in the Drama Room. This is one of Bertolt Brecht's most well known plays, and follows the fortunes of a young girl on the run in search of a safe haven during a time of war and revolution. She adopts a child and is determined to protect him, even if it means being separated from her fiance, and being forced to fight for the right to be acknowledged as the child’s true mother.

Head of Drama Dr Lilicherie McGregor says the two plays were chosen for the Year 12 classes to give each student a substantial role to fulfil their NCEA requirements, and work on a play that was challenging, interesting, educational and fun.

Pacifica music group wins Auckland contest

A MAGS Music group has won the Auckland Central section of the Smokefree Pacifica Beats National Competition with an original composition.

The group, called Lost Groovement, came first out of about 20 groups with their song We Are Pacifica. The group comprises Siosiua Atuekaho, Viliami Moli, Cyprus Taumaoe, Ailao Leota, Tenese Gibbons, Nela Ta'ufo'ou and Inoke Halaholo.

They will now compete in the Auckland Regional Division at Auckland Girls Grammar on Saturday, 2 July.

Music teacher Mr Zach Beard said the students formed their group independently, and have been diligent in rehearsing at lunchtimes and after school for the past month.

Dance students excel on the public stage

MAGS Dance students received acclaim at two events last week.

Three pieces were selected for the YouDance Youth Dance Festival at the Raye Freedman Theatre on Tuesday, 31 May - two choreographies by Year 13 students Celia Hext and Holly Grbich, and a Pacifika Fusion choreography by teacher Ms Samantha French featuring 10 of our Year 12 and 13 male dancers.

Twenty schools and youth dance companies presented work at the festival this year.

The MAGS students gave outstanding performances and received excellent reviews from the industry professionals who were invited to give feedback.

On Saturday, 4 June, the MAGS Mega Crew (left) won the Project Dance competition for the third consecutive year. Held in Tauranga, the competition is open to school and company groups from across the North Island.

Head of Dance Ms Jacqui Cesan says all students at both events gained great experience and were excellent representatives of MAGS.

MAGS in NZ Music Month

A number of students performed at the Mt Albert Library as part of NZ Music Month.

Top New Zealand violinist Kauri May performed on Sunday, 22 May, followed by the MAGS' Senior Students Duet of Jenna Ackerman and Ben Cullen.

On Thursday, 26 May, the Chinese Cultural Group performed the dance they presented at Polyfest earlier this year.

The library's Senior Children and Youth Librarian, Ms Suzy Donovan, said the students did a great job and were warmly received by their audiences. "We really appreciate them taking the time to give back to the community and share their talents."

Grimm's Tales a collection of gems

The 2016 school production of Grimm's Tales closed last Saturday night, 21 May, after an outstanding season which saw full houses and delighted cast and crew.

More than 70 students were involved on stage and behind the scenes of the show, held at the Playhouse Theatre in Glen Eden. Drama teacher Ms Jessica Rigold selected eight of the Grimm brothers' tales to interpret - four dramas and four comedies. Award-winning student singer songwriter Jenna Ackerman wrote an original score for the show, and dances were choreographed by top Dance student Oliver Mathiesen.

Students Jonathan Buckman and Brooke Walker wrote original scenes that depicted aspects of the Grimm brothers' lives growing up in Germany. They were inserted between each tale as a way of introducing the following story, with Jonathan playing Wilhelm Grimm and fellow Drama student Elliot Paton-Simpson playing his brother Jacob.

Ms Rigold said that while stories of magic and encounters with characters such as the Pied Piper and the Handsome Prince may seem far-fetched, "a quick look at today's news and popular entertainment shows us equally outlandish and horrifying characters and situations."

While she selected the tales, the students did the rest of the creative work to bring the production to the stage, including scripting, music, choreography, design and artwork, costumes, lighting, sound and backstage organisation.

"I have been privileged to work with such students - their discipline and hard work when deadlines were approaching were awesome," said Ms Rigold. "They show that our future is in good hands."

Grimm's Tales given new twist in school production

Original music and new scenes will add a fresh, modern edge to a performance of Grimm's Tales, Mount Albert Grammar's school production for 2016.

More than 70 students are involved on stage and behind the scenes of the show, to be held at the Playhouse Theatre in Glen Eden from 18-21 May.

Drama teacher Ms Jessica Rigold selected eight of the Grimm brothers' tales to interpret - four dramas and four comedies. Award-winning student singer songwriter Jenna Ackerman (far left) has written an original score for the show, and dances will be choreographed by top Dance student Oliver Mathiesen.

Students Jonathan Buckman (at right) and Brooke Walker have written original scenes that depict aspects of the Grimm brothers' lives growing up in Germany. These will be inserted between each tale as a way of introducing the following story, with Jonathan playing Wilhelm Grimm and fellow Drama student Elliot Paton-Simpson (second from right) playing his brother Jacob.

"We wanted to give the audience more than a performance of the brothers' stories," says Jonathan. "We thought also telling stories of the brothers' lives and the events that shaped their work would be interesting."

Ms Rigold says that while the dramatic tales will be played "pretty straight", she and the actors have taken some artistic license with the comedies.

Costume design is well underway, including a collection of masks made specially for the production to represent the various animals in the tales - rats, hounds, a wolf, dog, donkey, cat and rooster.

Jenna says the result is an "emotional rollercoaster" of a show. "The audience will swing between finding one tale hilarious, the next tragic, and feeling sorry for and angry at different characters," says Jenna, who is also rehearsing her role of Little Red Riding Hood between helping the cast perfect her musical numbers.

"We wanted the cast and audience to find some modern day relevance in these historic tales," says Ms Rigold. "Each story has a kind of moral, such as resisting corruption or women being empowered to get out of a bad situation, that still resonates in the 21st century."

Grimm's Tales, Playhouse Theatre, Glen Eden, 18-21 May, 7pm, Matinee 1pm on Saturday, 21 May. Tickets from Students $10, Adults $20, Family Concession $50 (2 adults, 2 students)

MAGS dancers 2nd in NZ competition

The MAGS Megacrew came 2nd out of 15 high schools at the New Zealand Hip Hop Championships held in Auckland on Sunday, 1 May.

More than 90 students auditioned for the crew, for which 34 were selected. The students, ranging from Year 9-13, trained through the April holidays. They were led by Year 13 Dance student Jackson Tuarae, who composed most of their dance's choreography, assisted by fellow Year 13 students Maria Wrassky-Bulmer and Celia Hext. Jackson is part of the ID Co crew The Bradas which won the Gold medal at the World Hip Hop Championships last year.

Dance teacher Ms Samantha French said the students were truly deserving of their 2nd place. "Most students had not performed in this competition before, and were extremely committed and passionate."

Dance Concert 2016

Mount Albert Grammar's annual Dance Concert was this year titled History in Motion, with pieces themed
around events, issues and iconic moments of each decade of the 20th century. Dance styles covered those seen throughout the decades.

Held at the Centennial Theatre at Auckland Grammar School on Tuesday, 12 April, the 29 piece show featured performances from Year 9-13 Dance students, and choreography by Senior students.

Year 13 Drama production of Comrade Savage

Year 13 Drama students performed the play Comrade Savage, written by Alan Brunton, in the Drama room on Wednesday and Thursday, 6-7 April. This respected but little known New Zealand play chronicles the life of Labour leader Michael Joseph Savage, from his birth in outback Australia to his death in 1940 while still serving as the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

2016 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Labour Party in New Zealand. The play studies a man who was elected as the working-class’s first Prime Minister in 1935, and venerated with an intensity that equalled that given Franklin Roosevelt in the United States. In some homes his photograph was displayed, in others he was despised. He led a party that implemented social reform, establishing the Welfare State that aided the unemployed, and established the principle of free education and health care.

Audience feedback:

“I can’t think of a better example of what drama should be in relation to both text choice and performance. The balance was just right.”

“What a treat – our very own socio-political history - education wrapped up in entertainment!”

“It was thought provoking, and insightful into early NZ politics.”

“It was interesting to talk to my grandfather about the play; h was born not long before Joe Savage died while he was in power – and to hear why he was exalted as one of the greatest New Zealanders of all time. Savage was a defender of the working class, he believed in social security – people could at any point be destitute – so under him people knew they wouldn’t lose everything if they had an accident. His government implemented the welfare state, introducing the unemployment benefit, free medical care and free education. And it was interesting to hear about the controversies over the fact that the same men who had been conscientious objectors in WWI, introduced enforced conscription in WWII”. - Elliot Paton-Simpson, Year 13 (pictured above, centre)

Violinists selected for prestigious groups

Year 11 student Hannah Houghton (above left) and Year 13 Prefect Kauri May have each won selection into New Zealand groups to display and hone their skill with the violin.

Hannah has been chosen as a member of the New Zealand Secondary Schools' Symphony Orchestra. She and her fellow orchestra members will gather in Christchurch in the April holidays to take part in an intense six-day course, culminating in two public performances.

This course is widely regarded as a significant training ground for young players aspiring to membership of the New Zealand Youth Orchestra, and ultimately to a career as a professional musician.

Kauri was selected as one of only 30 musicians from throughout New Zealand to attend the 2016 Adam Summer School for Chamber Music, run by the New Zealand String Quartet and held in Nelson in February. Applicants had to perform at tertiary level or above. Kauri not only won a place, but at the end of the course was named as the winner of the Donald Armstrong Award for the student who made outstanding progress during the summer school.

Both girls are members of MAGS' Orchestra and MAGS Strings, overseen by Head of Music Ms Milica Zjajic-Moon.

Polyfest 2016

Mount Albert Grammar made a strong impression at the 2016 ASB Polyfest, with our largest group of students ever taking part, and winning three awards.

More than 300 students took the stage at the Manukau Sports Bowl from 17-19 March, with groups representing the cultures of Maori, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, China, Japan, India and Korea.

The Tongan group came 2nd in the Mako category, the Cook Islands group won the non-competitive Cook Islands division, and MAGS' Kapa Haka came 8th equal, two places better than last year and retaining their place in the prestigious Kapa Haka First Division.

Headmaster Mr Patrick Drumm, who is Chairman of the Polyfest Trust, said the students' performances represented outstanding dedication through many hours of rehearsals over the past two months, costume making and fundraising.

"The students and the teachers and community members who oversaw each group deserve high praise for the quality of their performances, and for representing Mount Albert Grammar so well at what is the largest festival of its kind in the world."

Mr Drumm hosted Prime Minister Mr John Key during his visit to the festival on Friday, 18 March. Mr Key attended a VIP function, where members of MAGS' Te Puna o Wairaka performed waiata, and then visited the Cook Islands stage and walked through the grounds speaking with students.

MAGS dancers in Auckland champion team

Year 13 Dance students Celia Hext and Maria Wrassky-Bulmer were part of the eight-member dance crew Masque which won the Varsity section of the Auckland Hip Hop Championships on Saturday, 27 February.

Held at the Vodafone Events Centre in front of a full house of more than 800 people, the all-girl team were up against 14 other boy and girl crews in the age 13-18 category.

MAGS' Head of Dance Ms Jacqui Cesan said Masque was the clear winner in its section. She was also proud of other MAGS students who competed in crews under the umbrella of dance company ID Co, directed by Albertian Mr Josh Cesan.

Year 9 boys Faolan Okan, William Tuarae and Ben Rawnsley were part of Swagganauts, which came 3rd in their division in their first outing at the competition. Year 12 student Jaimee McLaughlan's group Shique came 5th in their category, while novice team Recruits, featuring Year 12 student Louis Dan-Tyrell, was named Most Promising New Crew - all these teams qualified for the National Championships to be held later this year.

Another novice group, Clique, featuring Holly and Janelle Kara, Eva Williams, Maddi Bencich, Amelia Worsley, Estella Wason and Peri Bailey, coached by Dance teacher Ms Samantha French, was also praised by judges for the high standard of their performance.

"These dancers have committed every weekend since January to their training, and showed that dedication to training really pays off," said Ms Cesan.

The Swagganauts came 3rd

The MAGS girls of Clique

Lisa McLaughlan to join Sydney Dance Company

Lisa McLaughlan, MAGS’ Deputy Head Girl for 2015, and our top Dance student, has accepted the offer of a place with the Sydney Dance Company from next year.

Lisa will undertake the company’s pre-professional programme, preparing her for a career as a professional dancer.

Lisa has won many awards during her time at MAGS, and recently came second in the Modern Dance section of the National Young Performer Awards in Palmerston North. The record number of entrants, 69, was whittled down to six for the finals.

One of the judges commented: “Your unique adaptation and delivery of this choreography was breathtaking. This was beyond! Your movement combined with the music gave me goosebumps.”

Lisa will put her prizemoney towards her studies in Sydney.

MAGS Strings in demand

Mount Albert Grammar’s award-winning Strings group has become a go-to act for Auckland Council event organisers.

The group, which won Silver at the secondary school KBB Music Festival this year, has performed at a number of council functions, and has more bookings ahead.

Among the events at which they’ve performed have been the opening of the Heritage Festival and a Superdiversity Stocktake, and they are booked for a ceremony at the Town Hall later this month.

Head of Music Ms Milica Zjajic-Moon says that although the group’s performances are intended as background music, they often turn into mini-concerts, with guests gathered in front of the students listening to and applauding each piece.

“People often say ‘They are so good and so focused. This is the best music we have had. You must be so proud of them!’. And yes, I am very proud indeed,” says Ms Zjajic-Moon.

MAGS Strings is made up of Victoria Ting, Kauri May, Kate Ploeg, Emma Moon, Arien Okan, Anton Aish and Anvilly Huang.

Junior Bytes and Arts Alive 2015

The annual Junior Bytes and Arts Alive concerts were stunning showcases of the rich and varied talents among MAGS students.

The Junior concert by Year 9 and 10 students was held on Tuesday, 22 September, with the Senior concert held the following evening, both at the Centennial Theatre at Auckland Grammar School.

Each show combined Dance, Drama and Music performances across a range of genres and themes. Junior Bytes included Musical Theatre, jazz and classical music, and drama excerpts from Shakespearean plays. It concluded with the presentation of the inaugural Junior Arts Awards, by Arts Co-ordinator Ms Jacqui Cesan and Headmaster Mr Dale Burden.

Arts Alive this year included a contemporary Pasifika dance which has been selected for performance in the Tempo dance festival in October, an excerpt from the original play Four Out of Five that students produced earlier this term, and a piece by the MAGS String Group which won a silver medal at the KBB Music Festival. The 2015 Arts Lions were also presented.

Click here for the Junior Bytes programme including the names of Junior Arts Award winners

Click here for the Arts Alive programme including names of 2015 Arts Lions

Student film selected for dance festival screening

A short film by Year 13 students Camille Hay and Anita Soleimani will be screened as part of the Tempo Dance Festival's Quick Flicks film evening at Q Theatre on Sunday, 11 October.

Camille and Anita's film Mute was selected for the collection of short dance films by emerging and established New Zealand choreographers and filmmakers.

Camille excels in Dance, and Anita is a Media Studies student. Camille says they chose the idea of using movement rather than voice as a form of expression, and created three characters with a passion for contemporary dance, but were unable to talk. "This gave us the basis to explore the idea of an ‘international language’," says Camille. "Mute is our interpretation of what it would be like to live in a world where individuals only use movement and dance to depict emotion and opinion. We used film techniques to portray our story, but we also wanted Mute to be a dance piece in itself."

Tickets to the Quick Flicks screening at the Tempo Dance Festival are $18.Click here to book

Year 11 Drama production

Photos by Angela Lei, Year 13

MAGS' two Year 11 Drama classes each presented their interpretation of the play Children of the Black Skirt in evening performances in the Drama room on Monday, 31 August, and Tuesday, 1 September.

Described as a "gothic fairytale" aimed at teen audiences, the play, by Australian writer Angela Betzien, tells the story of three children who come across an abandoned orphanage, and recreate the stories of the children who lived there when it was run by a woman they called "the black skirt".

Drama teacher Ms Jessica Rigold says the play is ideally suited to drama classes as it offers multiple roles, and gives students the opportunity to perform as an ensemble.

Ms Rigold said the performances were excellent and she was very pleased with the productions of both classes.

Jenna Ackerman in final of performing arts competition

Year 11 student Jenna Ackerman will have one of her original songs included in a CD compilation after reaching the finals of the Auckland Stand Up Stand Out competition.

Jenna was one of six finalists in the solo vocal division and performed in front of a live audience of 3000 people at the Vodafone Events Centre on Friday, 28 August.

She performed one of her original songs, Come Back.
Click here to watch her performance on YouTube

Jenna has also made the finals of the Word Up lyric competition, the winners of which will be announced on Friday, 11 September.

KBB Festival awards for MAGS musicians

The MAGS Jazz Band won arguably the top award at this year's KBB Music Festival - the Chairperson's Command Performance Award for their rendition of You Are My Sunshine by Ray Charles.

Although the band won Bronze in competition for their five-piece repertoire, their performance so impressed Festival Chairman Dr Trevor Thwaites that he chose them as his favourite group of the week-long event.

To top off our success, the MAGS Chamber Strings group (right) claimed a Silver medal in only their first outing in this prestigious competition.

The KBB Music Festival showcases the best in secondary school orchestras, concert bands and stage bands from across the Auckland region. More than 135 groups take part from more than 50 schools.

The Jazz Band, directed by Albertian Ben Sinclair, won Silver last year, and this year played pieces by Duke Ellington and Henry Mancini, among others. For You Are My Sunshine the 20-member band was joined by vocalists Siosiua Atuekaho, Janet Stewart, Sarah Alatimu, Cyprus Taumaoe and Esther Ji.

The 12-member MAGS Chamber Strings group includes nine members who are still only in Years 9 and 10. Directed by Loata Mahe, also a former student of MAGS' Head of Music Ms Milica Zjajic-Moon, they played four pieces and were congratulated by the judges on their lively and polished performance.

The MAGS Concert Band (below), directed by Ms Zjajic-Moon, played a six-piece set in the non-competitive festival performance section, and also received glowing praise.

MAGS dancers are World Champions

A men's hip-hop group including current and former MAGS students has won the Gold Medal at the 2015 World Hip Hop Championships in San Diego.

The Bradas includes Year 13 students Gabriel Sutton and Jackson Tuarae and Albertians Riley Bourne and Nathan Kara; the group is managed by Albertian Josh Cesan, son of MAGS' Head of Dance, Ms Jacqui Cesan.

The Bradas is part of ID Co, whose groups won Silver in 2013 and 2014. This year they claimed Gold ahead of 80 crews from all over the world.

Click here to watch The Bradas' winning routine

Read the NZ Herald story here

Watch the Paul Henry Show interview here

10/10 for student production Four/Five

Download the programme here

The student-led production of a play written by Year 13 student Emma McShane was so successful that several participants have been approached by professional theatre companies.

Emma's play, Four/Five, was staged at the Glen Eden Playhouse Theatre from 30 July-1 August. Emma's twin sister Alex produced the show and fellow Year 13 student Mackensie Clayton wrote songs for it. They pulled together a team of actors and production crew. While teachers oversaw the play's development, the students worked and rehearsed independently to bring to life Emma's story, which follows a group of teenagers who fall out after a disaster. It mirrored the sense of loss and uncertainty that comes with the move from high school out into the world.

A total of 550 tickets were bought by people wanting to see the show across its four performances. Among them were representatives from the Auckland Theatre Company, who offered free singing lessons to Year 11 student Aysha Blanchard, Bullet Heart Productions, who have invited the team to a meeting to go through their script, and the Glen Eden Playhouse Theatre, which has asked Emma to direct a play.

Emma, who is studying Scholarship Drama but led this project purely for enjoyment, says she was delighted with how well the production came together. "The cast was amazing, the crew was fantastic, and the audiences were great. I was really happy."

Unity Concert 2015

More than 100 students celebrated the cultural diversity of Mount Albert Grammar School at the 2015 Unity Concert, held at the Dorothy Winstone Centre on Friday, 24 July.

For the first time Korean and Japanese students were represented when groups performing their traditional dances in traditional costume took the stage.

An audience of more than 600 also enjoyed displays by Tongan, Indian, Chinese, Samoan and Cook Island groups. MAGS' Kapa Haka group performed the collection they presented at this year's Polyfest, which the other cultural groups may attend every second year.

Deputy Principal Ms Te Aroha Keenan said the Unity Concert is held in alternate years to MAGS' wider participation in Polyfest to encourage all our cultural groups to prepare well for the biggest high school Polynesian festival in the world.

"They have to earn the right to attend Polyfest by showing though the Unity Concert that they are organised and can perform to a high standard," says Ms Keenan. "Unity is partly about inspiring students who will be here next year to go on to Polyfest, and also to celebrate the wonderful range of cultures among the young people at MAGS."

Jaimee McLaughlan wins LA dance scholarship

Year 11 Dance student Jaimee McLaughlan will attend a week of classes at the prestigious Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles after impressing visiting teachers at a workshop series.

Jaimee was one of a number of MAGS students who attended the Jazz dance workshops run by LA-based professional dancers during the school holidays. Fellow Year 11 student Oliver Mathiesen won entry to the next workshop series to be held in New Zealand.

Jaimee will have to put her week in LA on hold while she trains for the World Hip Hop Championships, where she will represent New Zealand with the ID Co team Masque.

Students take the reins for school production

Read the Central Leader story here

When a group of enthusiastic Arts students heard there would be no school production this year, they decided to put one on themselves.

Scholarship Drama student Emma McShane (pictured centre front) even wrote a play herself. With the help of her twin sister Alex (front right) and Mackensie Clayton (front left), the girls pulled in a team of actors and production crew to stage the play at the Glen Eden Playhouse Theatre next week.

Teachers have overseen the play's development, but the students have worked and rehearsed independently to bring to life Emma's story, 4/5, which follows a group of teenagers who fall out after a disaster. It mirrors the sense of loss and uncertainty that comes with the move from high school out into the world.

MAGS stages a full school production every other year, but the 4/5 team is hopeful they will gain just as much audience support.

4/5, Glen Eden Playhouse Theatre, 30 July-1 August. Tickets: Adults $15, students $10 from

Music Concert a blend of old and new

"Something Old, Something New" was the theme of the MAGS' Music Concert of 2015, and students showed they were adept at a variety of music styles that spanned the generations.

Held at the Raye Freedman Arts Centre on Friday, 3 July, Head of Music Ms Milica Zjajic-Moon conducted the orchestra through a variety of works ranging from Quincy Jones' Soul Bossa Nova to Neil Diamond's I'm a Believer.

Year 12 student Kauri May, who came first in New Zealand in the Trinity College Grade 8 Violin exam, peformed Czardas by Vittorio Monti. James Donaldson performed the original song with which he won the FIFA U20 World Cup song competition, Colours, and Jenna Ackerman performed her original song Rumours, which won her second place in the Auckland Smokefree Rockquest this year.

A highlight was the Year 13 flamenco group, whose energetic and expressive guitars fired up the audience and garnered huge applause.

Ms Zjajic-Moon commended the artists of all 21 items for their dedication to rehearsal and performance, and she in turn was applauded to staging another impressive concert.

Dancers praised for festival performances

MAGS Dance teacher Ms Samantha French and a group of student dancers were praised for their work for the You Dance Festival by the Theatreview review website.

The festival, which features works by secondary school students and youth dance groups from across Auckland, was held from July 1-2 at the Maidment Theatre. The festival's Artistic Director is MAGS' Head of Dance Ms Jacqui Cesan.

Theatreview described as "a charmer" the dance choreographed by Ms French, called Autele. It was performed by 10 boy and seven girl students. Theatreview said: "A vibrant and dynamically driven dance based in Samoan traditions, this requires precision in rhythm and spatial patterns arising from the constant re-positioning of groups on the stage. There's no doubting the passion and commitment of the performers to be the best they can be, and they perform with passion, pride and verve to Maori Beat by Highlight Tribe."

Student choreographers Gabriel Sutton, Alicia Barrington and Jonathan Osborn also had pieces chosen for the show. Theatreview commented on Gabriel's dance: "Under the Influence is a trio choreographed by dancer Gabriel Sutton for himself and two mates from Mount Albert Grammar and the Boyzdance company who really love to dance. They wear shirts and jeans, and they each have an armchair where they pause for thought. Set to The Friends are Knocking by Hopsin, and with a theme of individual passions shared, this is an utter charmer, winning us over with the confidence and charisma of the performers as much as by the beautifully crafted choreography and the casual interjection of hiphop tricks just when you least expect them."

Christopher Lim in university songwriting workshop

Talented Year 12 musician Christopher Lim was selected by Auckland University to take part in a songwriting workshop at the Kenneth Myers Centre on Thusday, June 25.

Christopher, who is studying Year 13 Music, was one of 50 secondary students chosen from across Auckland to take part in the workshop, which included tuition in songwriting, engineering and producing, vocal delivery, guitar and piano playing, stage craft and performance. At the end of the full day workshop, the students performed the new songs they had created before an audience of their friends and family.

Christopher says the experience was valuable for gaining feedback and advice from professional musicians and those involved in Music education at the university.

Year 12 Drama presents modern take on Shakespeare

Two Year 12 Drama classes presented two modern interpretations of Shakespeare plays in performances at school on Tuesday, 30 June, and Wednesday, 1 July.

Both plays were by New Zealand satirical feminist writer Jean Betts. Revenge of the Amazons is based on A Midsummer Night's Dream; Ophelia Thinks Harder is based on Hamet. Drama teacher Ms Jessica Rigold says that each play presents a gender reversal of Shakespeare's original story, asking what would happen if the women characters had the lead roles and "turned the tables on the men".

Both classes presented their plays on both nights and Ms Rigold was pleased with the standard of peformance.

Dance and Music groups broaden students' awareness

Two groups that promote dance and music for people of mixed ability visited MAGS on Friday, 26 June.

The Touch Compass dance company and the Mutes from Mars music group worked with Year 13 Dance and Music classes to highlight the contribution that can be made to the arts by people living with physical or intellectual disabilities.

The groups ran a workshop with the classes, and then put on a lunchtime performance the whole school could enjoy. Head of Dance Ms Jacqui Cesan said it was wonderful to see MAGS students joining in to the lunchtime show.

"The Year 13 students who did the workshop found it really motivating, and were impressed by the passion for music and dance shown by the company members," said Ms Cesan. "It was important for them to see how music and dance can touch a wide variety of people."

Musicians come first and second at Rockquest

A band made up almost entirely of MAGS students has won the Auckland Regional Final of the Smokefree Rockquest. Fellow student Jenna Ackerman came second in the Solo/Duet category.

The band Joe Says No is made up of, from left, Denzel Kelemete, Jin Yun, Joe Curtis, his brother Oliver and a friend from another school, Ethan Broughton. They won the bands category ahead of 12 other finalists, with two of their original songs which Joe describes as "alternative rock or garage punk - we have a lot of energy and are really loud!"

Denzel also won the award for Best Lyrics for his song Maybe.

Joe Says No (the name was settled on after band members suggested various titles and Joe said no to them all), has been together for about 18 months. They write all their own songs and practice at Joe and Oliver's house. They are already performing at youth gigs and events.

Jenna Ackerman, who is still only in Year 11, won the Lyric Award last year, and this year came second in the Solo/Duet Performance category with her original song Rumour, which she will perform at the MAGS Music Concert on 3 July. She is studying Level 2 Music and aims to continue to tertiary level.

Jenna and Joe Says No are now each working on a 15 minute video of their songs in the hope of being selected for the Rockquest Naional Finals later this year.

Kauri May tops NZ violin exam

Year 12 student Kauri May has come first in New Zealand in the Trinity College Grade 8 Violin exam.

Kauri scored 93% in the exam, and will receive her first place certificate at a ceremony on 15 June.

The 16-year-old says she has been learning violin since she was 3, and practices for at least an hour a day, increasing to two hours before a music exam. She will soon perform for the next level above Grade 8, the ATCL Diploma, for which she will play three pieces totalling nearly 40 minutes in length. Trinity College says this is equivalent in standard to the first year of a Music degree.

"My favourite composer is Beethoven - he broke the boundaries of what was known as classical music at the time," says Kauri. "He made it more romantic."

Kauri is part of the MAGS Orchestra and MAGS Strings and will perform with them at the annual Music Concert on 3 July. She will also perform a solo piece, and in a trio with another violinist and a pianist.

Kauri is aiming to become a doctor, but says she will continue playing violin for enjoyment.

Chamber Music Contest

Eight strings students represented Mount Albert Grammar School at the 2015 NZ Community Trust Chamber Music Contest on Thursday, 4 June, at the Raye Freedman Arts Centre in Epsom.

Our group performed three pieces, and played very well. They displayed excellent ensemble awareness skills, expressive phrasing, good dynamics and and fine articulation. The MAGS group were commended for their choice of pieces, for accuracy, and how well they used their dynamics to project the sound. Their adjudicators were Richard Mapp, a pianist, and an artist teacher at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington, and Douglas Beilman, a violinist from Juilliard School of Music, who has moved to New Zealand and joined the NZ String Quartet. As string music is his forte, and he was able to give the performers detailed and positive feedback. This was very helpful as the MAGS group formed only in Term 1 this year, under the leadership of our new string specialist, Ms Loata Mahe.

The students who represented MAGS were Victoria Ting, Kauri May, Emma Moon, Kate Ploeg, Precious Valencia, Arien Okan, Anton Aish and Anvilly Huang.

Hip hop dancers win Youth Dance Project

The 42-strong MAGS Megacrew dance group won the Urban Youth Dance Project competition in Tauranga on Saturday, 30 May. Dance teacher Ms Samantha French says it was the biggest group ever to take the stage at the annual event. The Year 9-13 crew and its choreography were led by students Gabriel Sutton, Jackson Tuarae, Moana Te Hei and Semira Van Der Made.

"It was a very effective routine - well choreographed well performed," says Ms French.

In addition, a seven-member MAGS boy group called The Pride came third out of 12 teams in their division. The Year 11-13 group have been together for only a month, and this was the first time they had competed. The Pride is made up of Desmond Petelo, Javan Wong-See, Harley Sorensen, Keti Magalo, David Ropati, Matthew Esekia and Aamon Carson.

MAGS band into Rockquest finals

Four Year 13 Music students who formed a band only a month ago have made it through to the Auckland finals of the Smokefree Rockquest.

Pictured from left, James Venkatrao, Connor Stockman, Biku Adhikari and James Luff formed the group Apollo after meeting in Music class, and deciding to give the competition a go. They won the Auckland Central division of Rockquest on Saturday, 16 May, ahead of 12 other bands.

Biku, a guitarist and singer-songwriter, says he finished writing their winning song, Everlasting Innocence, only the week before. The group is now putting together two new songs for the Auckland regional final on 12 June, hoping to make it to the national final.

James Venkatrao also plays guitar, James Luff plays bass and Connor plays drums.

Biku, who intends studying Music at university next year, says the group was pleased that their first song came together so well. They've made use of Mount Albert Grammar's Music Department for composing and rehearsals.

"We started off as four musicians and are now a band," says Biku.

Smokefree Rockquest Auckland Regional Finals, Friday, 12 June, 6.30pm, Dorothy Winstone Centre, Auckland Girls Grammar School, tickets $23.10 (adults), $12.85 (students),book here

Music trip to New York

A group of 20 Music students went on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New York during the April school holidays.

Head of Music Ms Milica Moon led the 12-day tour, accompanied by Deputy Principal Ms Yevette Williams and two parents.

The students took part in workshops led by a Broadway performer and another with a casting director, had dinner with the cast of An American in Paris before attending the show, toured the Lincoln Centre, including the Juilliard School of Drama, Dance and Music, and attended a New York Philharmonic concert after which they spoke with one of the musicians. They had a behind the scenes look at the musical Wicked, and met the musicians of a top New York jazz band after listening to them play at a restaurant.

The group also visited the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Natural History. They visited the New Zealand representative to the UN Security Council,Mr Jim McLay, at the United Nations, and toured many other New York tourist attractions, including City Hall.

Ms Moon said the students' were great representatives of Mount Albert Grammar School and New Zealand, and gained a great deal from what was an inspirational trip.

Click here to read Ms Moon's day by day diary of the trip

Year 13 Drama production of Mother Courage

A flexible approach to staging the Bertholt Brecht play, Mother Courage and Her Children, meant that all the Year 13 students taking part had the opportunity to play multiple characters.

Staged at Alberton House on Wednesday and Thursday, 6-7 May, the 13-scene performance had actors taking turns at playing key roles, and at other times continuing with those they had presented in earlier scenes.

Dialogue was interspersed with songs by actors who are also talented vocalists, with others playing musical instruments.

Brecht wrote the play after he escaped from Hitler's Germany to avoid the fate of artists and writers who were being executed. He went into exile in Denmark, and wrote a play set during the 30-year-war in Europe during the 1700s. A mother takes her three children and a wagon to follow in the wake of the conflict, offering help to civilians, but instead she loses all her children to the war.

Head of Drama, Dr Lilicherie McGregor says the play has themes that still resonate with modern day students and audiences.

"It's a tragedy, and has themes that are still relevant to wars going on today, such as in Syria and its effect on the children there," says Dr McGregor.

Dr McGregor says this was the first time Alberton House has invited MAGS' Drama Department to stage an evening production at the historic homestead, in addition to the shorter daytime works it hosts for Year 11 students later in the year.

Albertian staff also helped source military costumes for the Year 13 actors to wear, which added to the authentic feel of the play.

James Donaldson wins U20 World Cup song contest

If you visit the 'fanzones' during the FIFA U20 World Cup being staged around New Zealand in June, listen out for a song by MAGS' Music student James Donaldson.

James was the joint winner of a competition run by the Play It Strange Trust on behalf of the World Cup organisers, with his song Colours.

FIFA wanted a song by a young New Zealander that celebrated the coming together of nations to celebrate "one passion in one place". James says he spent about two weeks creating the words and music for his entry, which he recorded himself with the help of the Garage Band software programme.

After being announced the joint winner by the Trust, which fosters songwriting and performance among young musicians, James was able to have his song professionally recorded at Roundhead Studios. Joining him to record the track were MAGS musicians Nathan Rhodes-Hasler on lead guitar and Reuben Brooks on drums. Nathan also has a starring role with an amazing guitar solo in the second half of the song.

The song will be played at fanzones set up for the public to watch matches on big screens, and may also be played at stadiums.

This is the second time James has won a songwriting competition run by the Trust, which is led by former Split Enz member Mike Chunn.

MAGS dance group runner-up to NZ title

The MAGS Mega Crew hip hop dance group came second in the Street Dance NZ National Championships held at the Vodaphone Events Centre from 17-19 April.

Up against 14 other schools and before audiences of 1200-1700 people, the MAGS group also won the trophy for Most Outstanding Performance. Head of Dance Ms Jacqui Cesan gave credit to group leaders Gabriel Sutton, Jackson Tuarae, Moana Te Hei and Semira Van Der Made, who led the team through full day rehearsals through the school holidays.

Gabriel and Jackson also joined Albertians Nathan Kara and Riley Bourne in the group The Bradas, which won the adult 5-8 man crew division. They received a standing ovation and also won the trophy for Most Original Performance.

MAGS students Jaimee McLaughlan and Celia Hext were also part of the group Masque, which came third in the Varsity section.

The Bradas and Masque have now qualified to represent New Zealand at the World Championships, to be held in San Diego in August. The groups are part of ID CO, managed by Albertian Joshua Cesan.

Dancers present a moving showcase

MAGS Dance students from Year 9 to 13 performed a showcase of their work so far this year at the Moving Thoughts concert at Centennial Theatre on Wednesday, 1 April.

The evening featured 24 dances, with themes ranging from lighthearted takes on the fun of dance, to intense studies of the effects of terrorism and domestic violence.

Dance styles including jazz, contemporary, hip hop and Pasifika. Most Year 12 and 13 students performed their own choreographies, including impressive works by Scholarship students.

Next term the students will begin work for more extensive Junior Bytes and Arts Alive concerts, scheduled for September.

Lisa McLaughlan studies with New Zealand Dance Company

Deputy Head Girl and top Dance student Lisa McLaughlan won a coveted three-week secondment to the New Zealand Dance Company from February 16-March 6.

Lisa was the only secondary student to be invited to audition for the place. She won the secondment ahead of about 20 tertiary dance students.

Lisa says she spent her time with the Company as understudy for two roles in its contemporary dance production of Rotunda, which opens in Tauranga on 13 March and tours New Zealand and Australia until the end of May. Lisa says she may be called on to perform in the show if either of the professional dancers she understudied cannot take the stage.

Rotunda tells the Anzac story, incorporating live music by the NZ Army Band and North Shore Brass, and is the creation of Arts Laureates Shona McCullagh (Artistic Director) and Don McGlashan (Musical Director).

Lisa has won a number of dance and choreography awards and is aiming for a career as a professional dancer. For now, however, it is back to her studies, and rehearsals with the MAGS hip hop Megacrew as they prepare for the National Championships.

Rotunda, Australasian tour 17 March-23 May,click here for information and tickets