By ERWIN CHLANDA
Participation in performance arts by Alice Springs youngsters is exploding: This year’s Centralian Eisteddfod featured 515 separate acts, up from just over 300 last year.
AT RIGHT: Madeleine Luey.
Committee member Allison Huhs says in the season of two weeks “young and old took their place in the spotlight, all eyes on them, in front of an audience and performed in the 32nd annual event.
“I am thinking of the rushing blood, the pounding hearts, and the exhilaration each must have felt hearing their names announced – the anxiety held in check, following the hours of preparation, practice, and sacrifices made, culminating in the those few minutes on centre stage, focussing energy, and performing with a twinkle in their eyes, a lightness in their step, joy in their hearts, and confidence in their smiles.”
Ms Huhs says entries ranged from the 6-year-old Ini Oyekan on the violin, to the senior quartet recital of Kipling by JART, and all the dancers, singers, musicians and performers in between.
“It is astounding to discover the depth of talent in our community, and the Eisteddfod continues to provide an all-inclusive platform for those to explore the performing arts,” says Ms Huhs
“School participation is again on the rise. Dedicated staff juggled school camps, curriculum, and of course NAPLAN to ensure their students found their moment in the spotlight.”
She says the Eisteddfod Council admires the “dedicated teachers at Ross Park, Gillen, Bradshaw, Larapinta, Sadadeen, Acacia Hill, Araluen Christian College, OLSH, St Philips, CSC, and CMS.
“The support of these teachers is the lifeblood of the Eisteddfod.
AT LEFT: Time Warp – Studio B.
“Dance and Music are the front runners. Studio B manages over 200 student dancers and singers with solos and group dances.
“Tennant Creek Dance come every year showcasing their passion for dance, and FAD Cheer and Dance shine in their groups,” says Ms Huhs.
“NT Music School teachers are amazing – supporting music in the public schools. Centralian Senior College, OLSH and St Philip’s support their students and a number of private students are engaged with music teachers like Adele Gibson, Karen Jackson, Jane Coleman, Dianna Newham, and Karen Miegel.
“Bec Hewitt and Jess Fahey are champions at Bradshaw, and Elke Harrison encourages Sadadeen and Acacia Hill.
“The speech and drama sections run for a single day – and we are working hard to revive interest in this discipline, with Alison Pyper visiting a number of primary schools in her own time to work with teachers and students.
“Hannah Maddin at Larapinta, Mel Insch and Anne Chivers at OLSH are working hard with their students, as Alastair Sherriff leads his teachers at Ross Park, dominating the primary School entries.
“Prepared reading, plays, recitations and improv performed at the Eisteddfod can and should translate into curriculum credit for the students willing to engage. OLSH, Larapinta, Bradshaw and Ross Park are avid supporters of the Speech and Drama Sections.”
For weeks and weeks, the children’s motto is “practice, practice and more practice leading to the Eisteddfod which is equivalent to Match Day for the students of the arts.
AT RIGHT: Emily Wilson and Leticia Keane.
“The hum of excitement backstage is quite visceral. The Araluen foyer resonates as musicians warm-up. The dressing rooms are alive with laughter and controlled chaos.
“Participants draw enthusiasm and support from each other, they crowd around monitors watching each other perform. They help each other get ready, go over lines, get over nerves, and build each other up.
“They instil in each other a confidence that is unprecedented across a football pitch. No one wants to see anyone fail, and if a performer does fall short – there is no shortage of support from those backstage – from the friends they arrived with to the ones they made while waiting in the wings.”
Ms Huhs says the Eisteddfod employs three adjudicators – judges – to provide feedback to every entry, and of course to select winners.
“Pat Wilson was our music adjudicator from Adelaide, Meredith Dickson came for speech and drama from Mt Gambier, and Carol Murray from Sydney managed dance.
“While we concede the Eisteddfod is a competition, participation is our focus and the feedback the adjudicators give each participant is the most important aspect.”
Ms Huhs says there will be a post-Eisteddfod concert on June 16 at the Centralian Senior College called Alice Has Talent.
Pitching for more financial support, in addition to the current grants from the Town Council and the Department of Education, she says: “The Eisteddfod volunteer pool is finite, and the less we stretch our individual members, the more we can sustain our enthusiasm, dedication to our stakeholders and focus on delivering the program.”
Tennant Creek Dance Crew.
Ini Oyekan and Joann Joby.
Desert Fiddle Club.
By ERWIN CHLANDA