When stage one restrictions were announced for Covid-19, Primary School teacher Jyoti Kendrigan’s heart sank. Her Wakakirri team consists of 96 St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School students who had already spent the first term learning their routines for the 2020 Wakakirri Story-Dance Challenge. The Sutherland students look forward to the school’s biannual tradition and this would be the only chance for many of them to participate. They’d be devastated to miss out on this year’s event because of a lack of opportunity to practice.
Kendrigan was already experienced with Google Classrooms so with Principal Phillip Tax’s blessing she set about switching her practices to a digital format. The first step was gathering content for her online rehearsals but she had an excellent resource available in the form of St Patrick’s College students who filmed themselves performing warm-ups, stretches and choreography for the team of students to follow from home. When she uploaded the videos to her virtual Wakakirri classroom, she received an immediate outpouring of support and gratitude from students and parents.
“When first creating the Wakakirri Classroom for the participating students, many students responded to the resources that were posted, they were grateful for the content as it gave them assurance that dance at our school will continue remotely. We received parent emails thanking the team for their quick response and hard work.”
Primary student Taryn was especially glad to keep up her Wakakirri practices. “I enjoyed having the dance routines to practise during isolation because it gave me an opportunity to learn the routine. It also was good for fitness and keeping me healthy and active. Another thing about having the routine online was that it was a fun activity to break up the day and stop the boredom.” Many of the students are not only practicing their routines with their families but also joining their classmates on video apps for a virtual dance class.
Wakakirri Festival Director Adam Loxley knows the pressure that teachers and students are both facing while students are stuck at home. “Movement is essential to children’s well-being and so is creative expression. Teachers have done a wonderful job at adapting their methods to digital tools and keeping kids going with their Wakakirri practices. Both teachers and students have shown remarkable resilience in the face of a really difficult school year.”
Wakakirri is Australia’s largest non-profit Performing Arts Festival for schools holding annual events across Australia since 1992. Every year 20,000 Primary and Secondary students participate from every state and territory. Students create and present original 3-7 minute Story-Dances that explore themes important to their community such as Reconciliation and Climate Awareness. St Patrick's Catholic Primary School hope to perform their Story-Dance at Riverside Theatre in Parramatta this coming October.
Wakakirri registrations are open for Term 4 Performance Season, find out more at www.wakakirri.com