WORDS & PHOTOS: JULIA WADE
Dancing Queens and bopping Kings entertained and delighted at a recent local school dance showdown, which even featured a ‘Rainbow Unicorn Fairy’ armed with a magical bubble wand.
Kaiwaka School held their second Kidz Bop dance competition on July 7 at Kaipara Sports Complex, with over 30 school children bopping, twirling, wiggling, jumping and jabbing through a variety of pop songs and routines, putting on their best dance steps for an audience of parents, staff, peers as well as three judges.
Kaiwaka School’s deputy principal and matai teacher Michelle Dempsey, aka Rainbow Unicorn Fairy, says the performances this year ‘were outstanding!’
“I am always impressed with the level of talent we have at our school,” she says. “Due to its popularity with students, parents and staff, Kidz Bop has now become an important part of our school year. Many students have already asked if they can put their names down to perform in next year's event – and they’ve even chosen their song!”
Introduced by Dempsey in 2020, the school’s staff got right behind the event and have been encouraging students to ‘give it a go'.
“I wanted to provide an opportunity for our tamariki to show excellence, participation and have fun using the arts curriculum, in particular dance,” she says. “Our principal Sharlene Tornquist said that she had tears rolling down her cheeks while watching students who don't normally like to be noticed, out there on stage giving it their all and having fun!”
Kidz Bop is a brand of music which produces albums of ‘clean versions’ of high-charting modern pop songs and besides the dance-off, Dempsey has also used the product’s YouTube videos for a number of years for ‘brain-breaks’ and teaching kids dance steps.
“I needed to ensure that the songs and dance moves used were appropriate for primary aged students, and they are a great way to listen to and watch videos of current pop songs without having to worry about certain words or adult-themed clothing and dance moves.”
Children had the option to perform either as a solo act or with a group and had six weeks to prepare and choreograph their routine, dedicating hours of practice after school and weekends as well as giving up their free time at lunch breaks, with staff on hand to help out if requested. Kaiwaka Kidz Bop aligns with the schools Discovery Learning culture Dempsey says, ‘where students are able to use their creativity to learn about what interests them’.
“Ultimately it is totally student led. Our students love that they get to choose the song and make up or copy whatever moves they want to. They like getting together with their friends on the weekends and practising what moves will work best with the music,” she says. “Students commented that they would be too scared to sing in front of people so having the music playing and just dancing makes it easier for them to want to give it a try.”
Dempsey’s own first-time performance as her alter ego – the Rainbow Unicorn Fairy – also received some acclaim, with parents requesting for her special brand of ‘magical unicorn bubbles’ to return next year.
“We had a great audience… I guess they appreciate that I go above and beyond to ensure that all performers are acknowledged with a small prize for their efforts,” she says. “I think parents liked the way that it is an inclusive event where the main aim is participation and fun, and are particularly impressed with being able to see their kids shine in a different way.”
“Students love that they get to choose the song and make up or copy whatever moves they want to.”