The 2018 Victorian State Schools Spectacular (VSSS) will showcase 3000 young performers from more than 200 schools across Victoria for two shows on Saturday 15th September at Hisense Arena.
This year's production With The Beat explores ideas of belonging and identity. The journey of exploration will see Hisense Arena transformed into a mystical Venetian masquerade ball and a wondrous Steam Punk Fairground in a cornucopia of new and old mixed together. For the first time the VSSS Pacifica Choir will perform, taking inspiration from the movie Moana, and the audience will be immersed viewing one of the most powerful forms of cultural dance, a HAKA; specifically written for the show. Taking inspiration from the Grimm's Brothers folk tale – The Goose Girl, a famous story of lost identity, will feature a puppet designed by Philip Millar of Creature Technology Company bringing another performing dimension to the stage. Adding that extra bit of 'magic' will be student Tim Mason, an international award-winning magician who will delight audiences of all ages with his masterful showmanship far beyond his years.
This year's extravaganza will feature a 75-piece orchestra, 31 principal vocalists, 16 principal dancers, 20 principal ensemble dancers, 9 backing vocalists, 44 Victorian State Schools Choir members, 55 specialist dancers / singers, a magician, a puppeteer, a 1300 voice choir and 1125 mass dancers.
Taking part in the Spectacular provides a unique training opportunity for students onstage, as well as behind the scenes in audio, lighting, video production, stage management, costume, make-up, marketing and photography. The annual performance will see 33 secondary students and 90 Tertiary / TAFE students learning and working across these platforms in 2018.
This year the VSSS will be saying goodbye to some of the long-standing students who are coming to the end of their secondary education. Imogen Spendlove has been part of the VSSS for the past nine years where she has had the opportunity to perform over 30 songs as a Principal Vocalist. Imogen says she has found "Spec to be a space to learn and explore the art of performance". VSSS also welcomes 116 new students in 2018 who will be involved in behind the scenes as well as on stage.
There is something for everyone's musical taste in this year's show with songs being performed from Macklemore, Imagine Dragons, Sheppard, Tim Minchin, Beyonce, Rihanna to Little Mix, as well as Camila Cabello, Vance Joy, Bruno Mars, John Legend, Elton John to Karl Jenkins and Hans Zimmer.
'With The Beat' is a creative vision of industry professionals including Creative Director Neill Gladwin (Olympic and Paralympic Opening Ceremonies), Musical Director Chong Lim AM (John Farnham MD, Dancing With The Stars), Dance Director Deon Nuku, (Scooby Doo, Happy Feet, Moulin Rouge) and Associate Dance Director Yvette Lee, (Dancing with the Stars, X-Factor Australia, Australia's Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance).
The Spectacular has a long-term partnership with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, providing tutoring and mentoring to student string musicians.
The Spectacular supports the Education State targets of more students reaching the highest level of achievement in the arts; ensuring kids are happy, healthy and resilient; and building pride in their schools. It also provides students an invaluable performing arts opportunity, encouraging development of their creative skills, discipline, perseverance and confidence over months of rehearsals. The environment is non-competitive allowing students to learn from each other as much as from the mentors. Lifelong friendships are often made on this incredible journey.
Success and achievement in the arts is one of the key targets for the Education State, as Victorian students learn to think critically and find creative solutions.
Minister for Education James Merlino says "The Victorian State Schools Spectacular celebrates the next generation of creative Victorians who might be at the threshold of their future careers on stage and behind the scenes."
"The Spectacular provides an engaging performing arts opportunity and industry training experience for our young people while showcasing the talent that exists in Victorian government schools."
The VSSS is one of the largest recurring productions in Australia. Across the two shows, over 10,000 people will have the chance to see some of the rising stars of today.
Ticket prices to the event have not increased from last year making this an entertaining and affordable event for the entire family.
Presented by the State Government of Victoria, the 2018 Victorian State Schools Spectacular – With The Beat, is a not-to-be-missed event.
THE VICTORIAN STATE SCHOOLS SPECTACULAR – WITH THE BEAT
Saturday 15 September
1pm & 6:30pm (Performance length 3 hours (including interval))
Adult:$40.00 + BF
Concession: $30.00 + BF
Junior (U15): $20.00 + BF
Question: Can you tell us about your role on the Victorian State Schools Spectacular 2018?
Yvette Lee: This year I am the Associate Dance Director of VSSS18.
My role allows me to work thoroughly on the VSSS production and manage my schedule outside it also!
I am able to choreograph for the Principal and ensemble dancers and also go and spend time with the team visiting the mass dancers also.
Question: Where do you find your creative inspiration?
Yvette Lee: I find creative inspiration EVERYWHERE.
Interestingly some of my most creative inspirations have come from when I am not in the dance studio. They have been when I am I am holidaying of taking some down time. I find I in these moments I am most observant to people, nature, animals and I really do study movement patterns of these things. Sometimes it has been the way a bird walks or a cat stretches or pounces. It is interesting what triggers inspiration.
Question: Can you talk us through the process, so far?
Yvette Lee: Deon has the dance process so finely tuned on VSSS.
It is a building process of stages and layers.
It all begins with the auditions to find out principal and ensemble dance cast.
Then the dance department get delivered the songs they will be choreographing to. After this we will get together to lay the mass choreography down onto video to send out to the schools around the state.
We then will receive our schedule to come into the Sunday sessions and intensives throughout the year to teach the principle and ensemble cast our choreography.
During these periods we go on the road visiting the mass schools to teach them their choreography.
Question: What's it like working with Deon Nuku?
Yvette Lee: Deon and I have known each other for many years. It is amazing seeing him working in the capacity on VSSS. His dedication to the production in just incredible.
He understands the importance of giving these performers a professional experience and letting them have so much fun at the same time!
Question: Could you please explain the theme, With The Beat?
Yvette Lee: This year's production 'With the Beat' explores ideas of belonging and identity. Dance is a primal instinct. From the beginning of time people have always moved their bodies to rhythm. If you put music on you can be sure that a tiny baby, who doesn't even know what music is, will move their body to the rhythm.
The beat is inside all of us. Although we will all express or interpret the beat differently we all connect with it, so we all are "with the beat"
Question: What message do you hope to spread through With The Beat?
Yvette Lee: A message of connection and unity.
Are message of a collective love for rhythm and a celebration of all that 'the beat' brings to us.
Question: How difficult is it to work with 3,000 young performers?
Yvette Lee: There are challenges that come with the sheer volume of the performers but from a logistical point of view the team have it so incredibly organised!
What we always find is that the kids get SO excited when they first enter the stadium that they forget the choreography they have been learning all year because there is a sensory overload for them! Choir, orchestra, lights, led screens etc. Once we overcome that hurdle we are off and running!
Question: What should audiences expect from the Victorian State Schools Spectacular 2018?
Yvette Lee: This night is really about celebrating our next generation of young performers. It is about supporting their hard work and nurturing their skills.
I can say that audiences can expect to be blown away!
Question: What's next, for you?
Yvette Lee: The television show I was a choreographer for Chanel 7 'Dance Boss' is on air now and the day after VSSS I will fly to Manila to begin choreograph Air Supply's new musical called "All Out Of Love"
Interview by Brooke Hunter