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ANZ Stadium Lends A Helping Hand For Schools Spectacular

Crystelle Cordero

WITH catastrophic fire danger forecast last week, the Schools Spectacular 2019 operations team needed to act fast.

180 students who make up the Aboriginal Dance Ensemble were due to spend the week rehearsing for the Schools Spectacular inside a basketball court in Tempe with no fans or air-conditioning.

“We had intel from State Emergency HQ that this would be a dangerous week of weather with high temperatures and a lot of smoke, so we needed to move the kids somewhere they would be safe indoors, and in the cool. Luckily we reached out to Stadium Australia who were so wonderful and able to accommodate us at the last minute.

“The kids who are here come from towns like Walgett, Leeton, Taree and all the way up the north coast. We wanted to make sure that the experience we were giving them when they came to Sydney was one where they would be in a cool, calm environment and this has just been better than we could have imagined.”

Kelly Small, a mother of one of the students in the Aboriginal Dance Ensemble, said it was a sense of relief to discover rehearsals had been moved to Stadium Australia for the student’s safety and wellbeing.

“We’re from the mid north coast near Bellingen and we’ve had to evacuate three times in the last week. Everything was fine, but fires were close enough that we had to get out. A lot of the kids are from the country and have struggled to get to Sydney because of the fires, it’s been very traumatic and emotional.

“Honestly when I heard it had moved from the hot tin shed where they were practising with no fans and no air-conditioning, I wanted to find out who I could write to at Stadium Australia to say I am so grateful and thankful. The kids are so much more relaxed here. From a parent’s perspective it’s just wonderful.”

Many of the students have never visited Stadium Australia before and were blown away by the scale of the 83,000-seat Stadium.

“When I walked into the seating bowl I gasped because I’d never seen it empty and that’s where the kids are going to have their lunch and I just thought what an awesome experience for these kids coming from the middle of NSW where they are dealing with some pretty awful conditions with the drought and bushfires and now we can provide something that’s a little bit special for them,” said Lucy.

Working with professional tutors from Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australia’s leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance company, the students will spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday rehearsing in the Millennium Room at Stadium Australia before moving across to Qudos for their performance on Friday and Saturday.

Bangarra first began collaborating with the The Arts Unit and Department of Education NSW in 2011. Sidney Saltner, Youth Program Director at Banagarra, said the students are having an amazing experience rehearsing at Stadium Australia. 

“The first piece the students will be performing has been choreographed by Frances Rings, Associate Artistic Director at Bangarra. It’s from a piece called David Unaipon and is inspired by the life and intellect of the Aboriginal inventor, writer, philosopher and story-teller, who is featured on the Australian $50 note.

“The second piece is called 2000 and Whatever and is about what happens to our soul and spirit after we leave our body and this earth.”

The Schools Spectacular is a remarkable New South Wales success story and is proudly presented by the NSW Department of Education.

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