Welcome to the Performing Arts Department at McAuley High School. Our department holds a firm belief and vision, aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, to foster and deliver enriching learning experiences for our girls which spark their interest and appreciation for the performing arts and creative industries and, by the end of their secondary years, sees them pursuing their world as confident, connected, actively involved, life-long learners.

The department is made up of varied and exciting teaching and learning programmes at all year levels where students can experience both drama and dance education through dedicated courses of learning that increase in complexity and challenge and amplify their creativity, confidence and communication skills during their time here.

Year 9 Dance and Drama (9DAN & 9DRA)
Dance and Drama are compulsory subjects at Year 9 and all students will receive an introductory, thirteen week rotation programme in each of the arts disciplines – including Music, Visual Art, Dance and Drama).  In Year 9 Dance and Drama students explore and develop practical ability and understanding of what Dance and Drama are and how they convey messages and meaning as art forms.
In Dance, students will experience a series of team building activities to develop the positive dynamics required for success in the subject. They will be introduced to the key elements of dance and be encouraged to develop their own natural movement vocabulary. Students will learn about dance making and performing and will explore a range of movement exercises and activities; particularly looking at the importance of body, relationships, space, time, and energy in movement. Students will put their developed knowledge to good use by collaborating to choreograph their own dance work in groups.
In Drama, students will learn basic performance skills by playing a series of games designed to help them create characters, think quickly, initiate ideas and accept other peoples’ ideas. They will learn how to speak clearly and to project their voice on stage. Students will investigate how the voice works, and how to control it whist exploring different characterisation techniques. They will explore a range of drama elements and conventions and perform a scripted scene with a partner. Students will also explore the stylistic features of ‘mime’ and ‘slapstick’ comedy and use these features and techniques to create a devised comedy performance.Performing Arts is a compulsory subject at Year 9 and all students will receive an introductory, thirteen week rotation programme between all Arts subjects – including Music, Visual Art and Performing Arts (Dance and Drama). In Year 9 Performing Arts, students will study a broad programme consisting of two key-focus modules – one in Dance and the other in Drama, to explore and develop practical ability and our understanding of what Dance and Drama are.

Year 10 Dance (10DAN)
It’s time to move your thinking!  Year 10 Dance is an optional subject at Year 10 where students can elect to take the course for the whole year.  It is designed specifically to develop students’ creative thinking skills whilst preparing them for the demands of the key areas of dance making, analysing and performing for NCEA work in future years.  Students will develop and grow their personal confidence levels, their physical and creative movement skills and will expand their enjoyment of dance as an art form through activities which aim to broaden and deepen their practical experiences and appreciation of movement vocabularies.  Students will work both collaboratively and independently in a variety of activities throughout this whole-year course. 

Our topics cover:

  • Movement Creativity, Composition and Choreography Modules: “Well Played!”; “Whakapapa: Being Me” and “Whakatauki in Motion!”
  • Movement Clarity, Control and Accuracy Training for Performance: “Tikanga Kanikani – Tutakitanga Wha Ahurea”; “Prop Me Up!” and “In Style”.
  • Movement Viewing and Response;  “In Style – Genre Analysis and Close Viewing” and “Looking Back, Moving Forward – Reflective Journaling”.

Year 10 Dance (10DAN)
It’s time to challenge, change, construct and shape your world!  Year 10 Drama is an optional subject at Year 10 where students can elect to take the course for the whole year.  This exciting, communication development course dedicates all of the learning activities to developing your creative and critical experiences in Drama.  It is designed specifically to develop students’ confidence, imagination and to affirm their identities and values within the world today.  Through a range of creative challenges, the course will prepare students for the demands of performing and creating work for NCEA in future years.  Students will develop and expand their personal levels of confidence as well as their skills in, and enjoyment of Drama through a range of activities which aim to develop their practical experiences of working in role and in understanding key vocabulary in drama and theatre environments.  Students will work both collaboratively and independently in a variety of activities throughout this course. 

Our topics cover:  Improvisation and theatresports; voice technique; characterisation; understanding Shakespeare today; physical theatre style and features; devising and creating original work; making an audience think; theatre and drama through history; reflecting on our own and others’ performance and creative work; understanding the theatre and drama industry.

Year 11 Dance (11DAN)
Move your thoughts; move your feelings; move your mind and the mind of your audience.  This is a foundation programme in movement making, analysing and performing that is essential for advanced study in dance.  In this course students will have the opportunity to present work towards Achievement Standards for NCEA Level One in Dance.  Dance is an approved subject for university entrance (no matter what direction or area or field students’ future study plans may take!) and for students who excel in this area, it will provided a well-rounded and complimentary set of skills and results for their NCEA record of achievement.  Developing confidence and increasing practical experiences and understandings of movement as a form of communication will be the focus.  Students will explore a range of Dance activities which are specifically designed to extend their creative thinking and physical communication skills.  Students will continue to increase their personal levels of confidence and capabilities in Dance as they work both collaboratively and independently in a variety of movement making, performance and analysis modules.

Assessment opportunities cover:

  • creating, composing and choreographing movement
  • performance skills
  • movement techniques in selected styles of dance
  • exploring dance ensemble (large group) skills
  • indentifying, exploring, reflecting on and evaluating use of the elements of dance in a range of contexts
  • reflecting on and describing aspects of professional Dance performances and industry practices.

Year 11 Drama (11DRA)
Theatre makes people think.  Become a thought-leader and challenge peoples’ thinking in Drama!  This is a foundation programme in devising, performing and critiquing drama that is essential for advanced study in later years.  In this course students will have the opportunity to present work towards Achievement Standards for NCEA Level One in Drama.  Drama is an approved subject for university entrance (no matter what direction or area or field students’ future study plans may take!) and for students who excel in this area, it will provided a well-rounded and complimentary set of skills and results for your NCEA record of achievement.  Developing confidence and increasing students’ practical experiences and understandings of drama as form of communication will be the focus.  Students will explore a range of creativity and performance challenges which are specifically designed to extend their critical thinking and performance knowledge.  Students will continue to increase their personal levels of confidence and capabilities in Drama as they work both collaboratively and independently on a variety of performance, devising, and theatre analysis projects.

Assessment opportunities cover:

  • drama techniques for performers
  • devising original drama to challenge thinking and perceptions
  • theatre form studies: understanding styles of theatre and their features
  • a major class production and understanding the world of playwrights
  • trips to professional theatre and drama performances
  • describing live drama performance.

Year 12 Dance (12DAN)
Dance is expressive movement that has intent, purpose, and form/shape.  At this level in their dance education journey, students integrate critical and creative thinking with movement and expression.  The course will build on the practical and theoretical dance work from the previous year of learning and is a fast-paced and exciting creative and academic programme consisting of Achievement Standards in Dance at NCEA Level Two.  Collaboration skills at this level are vital and there will be many small group, whole class and individual tasks to complete in choreography, performance and dance analysis.

Assessment opportunities cover:

  • Dance Choreography – exploring the processes of choreographic movement; small group choreographic projects and individual composition tasks.
  • Dance Performance – performing as a whole class in a contemporary theatrical style taught by your teacher or a visiting tutor; performing a range of piece (a repertoire) within a selected genre of dance; also visiting tutor and technique classes in specific styles of dance.
  • Dance Analysis – understanding the work of established choreographers; viewing and interpreting live and recorded dance performances (EOTC trips) and the background and context of a selected dance genre.

Year 12 Drama (12DRA)
Drama expresses human experiences as students create imagined worlds.  Through both individual and collaborative experiences, they discover how to link creative and critical thinking, with their imagination and feelings.  They learn to use spoken and written language with increasing control and confidence and how to communicate effectively using body, movement, and space construction.  Drama aims to give students a deeper appreciation of our cultural heritage and the power to judge and question or challenge attitudes, behaviours, and values in the modern world. This course will build on the drama experience developed from the previous year of learning. It is an exciting and creative academic programme consisting of Achievement Standards in Drama at NCEA Level Two.  Collaboration skills at this level are vital and there will be many group and individual tasks to complete within the rich contexts (broad topics) studied.

Assessment opportunities cover:

  • Performance Techniques – exploring scripted text and learning how to communicate the intent and purpose of a scene using voice, body, movement and space.
  • Devised Drama – a devising project, working collaboratively with a small group to create your own original performance piece.
  • Theatre Forms/Period (Style) – exploring the history, background, features and performance techniques associated with a selected style of drama/theatre performance.
  • Production – a major class production project for an invited audience, following industry practices and utilising production technologies.
  • Performance Analysis – the opportunity to view and evaluate live performed drama (EOTC trips) and experience professional theatre productions, as well as evaluation and understanding of how drama elements, techniques, conventions and technologies combine in performances.

Year 13 Dance (13DAN)
“Dance – the body says what words cannot.” (Quote, Martha Graham).  In their final year of secondary dance education, students increasingly integrate their critical and creative thinking skills with communicative movement and feeling/expression.  This intensive, academic senior dance course is designed to prepare students for university or tertiary pathways of their choosing with dance being a fully recognised and approved University Entrance subject.  The course will build on practical and theoretical dance work from previous two years of learning and is a demanding, advanced-level creative programme consisting of Achievement Standards in Dance at NCEA Level Three.  Self-management and both independent and collaborative work skills at this level are vital and there will be many small group, whole class, pair and individual tasks to complete in the broad study areas of choreography, performance and dance analysis.

Assessment opportunities cover:

  • Dance Choreography – exploring creative processes and practices associated with choreography and performing choreography as well as a major individual choreographic project.
  • Dance Performance – performing movement as a class taught by the teacher and/or visiting tutors; also within a selected genre of dance in a series (repertoire) of dances taught by your fellow students; visiting tutor classes in specific styles of dance.
  • Dance Analysis – understanding the work of established New Zealand choreographers, viewing and critically analysing live and recorded dance performances (including EOTC trips to professional dance works) and the background and development of dance as an art form in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Year 13 Drama (13DRA)
Drama expresses human experiences through a focus on role (character), action, and tension, played out in a time and place/space.  At this level in Drama, students work both individually and collaboratively in a range of theatre making and performance experiences.  They will will discover how to link creative and critical thinking, with their imagination and feelings.  Students will learn to use spoken and written language with increasing control and confidence and to communicate effectively using the actors body, movement, and space.  Ultimately, students will gain a deeper appreciation of our rich cultural heritage and the power and confidence to examine and critique the attitudes, behaviours, and values around them in today’s world.  This course is designed to prepare students for university or tertiary pathways of their choosing with Drama being a fully recognised and approved University Entrance subject.  The programme will build on the practical and theoretical experiences students have developed from previous years of learning.  It is an advanced and demanding creative and academic programme consisting of Achievement Standards in Drama at NCEA Level Three.  Self-management and both independent and collaborative skills at this level are vital and there will be many small group, whole class and individual tasks to complete within the rich and broad contexts (topics) studied.

Assessment opportunities cover:

  • Acting and Communication Technique – exploring scripted texts and learning how to integrate choices as actors into performance in order to communicate the intent and purpose of a scene within a wider setting using voice, body, movement and space.
  • Devising Drama – a major devising project working collaboratively or alone (student choice) to create a performance concept, and to execute or realise the concept in your own original performance piece.
  • Theatre Form/Period (Style) – exploring the history, background, features and performance techniques associated with a selected style of theatre and texts (plays) which exemplify this style of performance.
  • Production – a major class production project for an invited audience, following industry practices and incorporating technologies.
  • Performance Analysis – the opportunity to critically understand live drama performances (EOTC trips) and experience professional theatre productions, as well as evaluation and understanding of how drama elements, techniques, conventions and technologies combine in performances to create dramatic meaning and understanding.

Co-curricular and Extra-curricular Dance and Drama Opportunities
The Performing Arts Department aims to provide a wide-range of opportunities for all girls attending the school to experience dance and drama activities, whether they choose to take these disciplines as a school subject or through their involvement in one of the dance or drama activities and groups here at school.

Our extensive co-curricular programme will change from year to year depending on student demand and interest, and includes:

  • The Performing Arts Student Leadership Committee
  • Theatresports 
  • SDNZealand Megaschool Hip Hop Competition
  • Gen-X Unleashed Fusion Arts Competition
  • SGCNZ University of Otago, Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival
  • Others as student interest demands.

Where assessment conditions are met and the nature of the work undertaken in the above activities also meet the requirements of achievement standards in dance or drama and various levels, students will have the opportunity to put forward the performances they develop for these co/extra-curricular events for assessment.  This is a way of acknowledging the rich, authentic and real-world learning that naturally occurs in these environments.