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Study Performing Arts

University of Auckland New Zealand

New Zealand has a strong tradition of education in the performing arts, with institutions such as the University of Auckland and the Performing Arts School at UNITEC offering students a wide variety of courses. Throughout the country there has been a growth in performing arts training within a number of tertiary institutions. 

All cities boast of fine programmes; some schools such as the NZ School of Dance in Wellington offer intensive training for a professional performing career in dance, others such as the Bay of Plenty Academy of Performing Arts are pre-professional in the r focus. 

In Wellington there is also the New Zealand School of Drama, while Christchurch has a full-time two year course in Dramatic Art at the Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art. 

Within Auckland students have a choice of excellent courses at the Performing Arts School at UNITEC, helping them to acquire will help them to contribute to community and Professional arts groups throughout New Zealand. 

The Performing Arts School actively fosters contemporary dance and acting from screen theatre as well as film and television production and direction. Next year the school will have four full-time programmes - the Diploma in Contemporary Dance, the Diploma i  Acting for Screen and Theatre, the Diploma in Television and Video production, and a certificate in Television Operations. 

The Diploma of Acting for Screen and Theatre is a full-time two year course aimed at equipping students with the skills and practical experience to enter the New Zealand film, television and theatre industry. 

The course is performance based and students are given an opportunity to apply their learning in  theatre and video-recorded productions. Course time comprises of developing techniques and professional attitudes as live (theatre) and as recorded (television) performers, as well as movement classes, voice studies and related studies, including performing arts history. 

Meantime the Diploma in Contemporary Dance is a progressive two-year tertiary education programme which fosters the leading edge of choreographic innovation and dance performance artistry in New Zealand. 

The aims of the course are to educate dancer choreographers to have a high technical standard and solid understanding of the function of the human body, the philosophy of dance, dance history, the craft of choreography, dance criticism and traditional dance forms within New Zealand and the South Pacific. 

At present the Diploma in Contemporary Dance is held over two years, but plans are underway for a change to a three year programme in 1998. A degree in the Performing Arts is proposed, with majors in Contemporary Dance, acting for Screen and Theatre, Film and Television production, with the possibility of adding a major in Contemporary Music in the not too distant future. 

These programmes offer the opportunity for cross-disciplinary work and interdisciplinary work. 

The Performing Arts School has three large purpose built dance studios, all equipped with sound systems, video cameras, pianos and percussion instruments and changing rooms. It has a dedicated performance space equipped to run as a theatre and offer~ eight productions each year. And the film and television programme offers excellent, studios fully equipped for making television and video productions. 

As well as running the Diplomas, within its Community Programme the school also offers an excellent performing arts education for people of all ages and abilities. The programmes includes both recreational and vocational training in all areas for screen. 

The performing arts also have a particularly high profile within The U Diversity of Auckland, including the annual summer Shakespeare, held every year in different parts of the University's beautiful grounds.

The Theatre Workshop attracts many to view quite different (and sometimes controversial) productions of the Bard. For instance over the past three years The Winter's Tale, As You Like It and Twelfth Night have had high audience  attendance.

But above all, the University has a prime function of offering professional training; for instance the Diploma in Performing Arts (Opera) based within the Music Department. A one-year intensive full-time course that offers a technical grounding to young singers, conductors and repiteurs, the Diploma has successfully trained a number o  people for a professional career in opera.

Undoubtedly the chief attraction of the course is the ability for students to work at their own speed and develop particular interests, while tapping into the different specialisms of the relatively large number of course teachers, and of the wider University resources on campus.

The next step has been to add a full time postgraduate Dance Studies option to the Diploma of Performing Arts starting in 1996. The course should not be perceived as a training course for dancers; its aim instead is to add a new, high level input to dance education, including performance, dance history, dance criticism, dance theory and cultural studies, movement analysis! dance notation/dance therapy, dance in the South Pacific, dance recording/video dance/interdisciplinary studies, and dance production. While Dance Studies will be a viable option for the future, the existing Diploma in Drama, based in the English Department has provided an outlet and training for many an aspiring actor or theatre director over the years.

Areas covered in lectures include acting, voice, mime and movement, lighting, design and direction, while students are required to carry out, for example, a short exercise in group creation. The diploma has its own studio theatre space with full sound and lighting facilities. And for those people who wish to develop their skills in arts management there is the Diploma in arts Administration. The programme offers a solid grounding in business skills and management, complemented with more, specific papers dealing with arts management

The course utilises the teaching skills of staff within the Executive Programmes of fhe University of Auckland Business School, in conjunction with leading experts from the arts industry. It is taught alongside the Diploma of Management, which addresses specific industry needs over twelve intensive months.

The University of Auckland also has a lumber of arts venues on campus. The chief of these is the Maidment Arts Centre, which includes two theatres, the Kenneth Maidment Theatre and the smaller B-side Theatre.

The twin-theatre complex combines some of the best performance space features available in Auckland, and is currently undergoing major refurbishment. The Maidment can assist groups with lighting design and rigging, sound design and operation as well as stage management.

Apart from the Maidment Arts Centre there are other excellent venues as well. For example the School of Music includes a fine venue for concerts and recitals, used by staff and student artists, and by the national and international artists that visit the university. The Drama Theatre in the Arts building is both a training and performance area for Drama students. On these solid foundations the University believes that much more can be built.

Other polytechnics and universities also offer training in the performing arts, with various Schools of Education having an emphasis on dance studies. For example, within the University of Otago dance is taught as a compulsory subject for all first year students and dance options are available in subsequent years.

Subjects include technique, improvisation, composition, choreography and performance, dance history, cultural and sociological perspectives, elective ( eg jazz, modem, folk). And the University of Waikato School of Education runs a Bachelor of Leisure studies programme available to all students with an interest in dance from all schools in the university.

Meantime all the Colleges of Education throughout the country hold compulsory and optional units of study in aspects of dance and drama education. These are offered within their Schools of Early Childhood Education, Primary Teacher Education and Secondary Teacher Education.

Last but not least the New Zealand School of Dance, Wellington offers two full times courses that include classical and contemporary dance, anatomy, music, dance, history, composition, performance workshops and productions, repertory, national dance, pointe, pas de deux, modern partnering.

Other performing arts schools include the Bay of Plenty Academy of Performing Arts, Tauranga, which offers two year, full-time Diploma in the performing arts. All students are given core training in associated areas of the performing arts, as well as majoring in their specialist areas of dance or drama. Finally, the Takitimu School of Performing Arts Trust, Hastings, offers a Diploma of Maori Performing Arts that includes traditional/contemporary Maori dance, traditional/contemporary Polynesian dance, Maori music, sound, video, marketing and personal development.

And the Whitereia Community Polytechnic, Porirua has one year Certificate of Performing Arts that concentrates on Maori dance arts; Samoan dance arts; Cook Island dance arts; contemporary dance; dance composition; dance improvisation, Tai Chi, aerobics and fitness, vocals, choreography, and production.

As can be seen, there is plenty of scope for those concentrating on performing arts education. Training in the arts will give them new opportunities, and the skills they acquire will help them to contribute to community and professional arts, both nationally and internationally.

Author Tara Werner Director  Diploma in Arts Administration University of Auckland 

Arts Students' CentreRoom 001 (Basement)ClockTower Building22 Princes Street
Ph +64 9 3737599 ext 5060
Fax + 64 9 3737458
E Mail: 
Email-Arts Faculty

Arts Students' CentreRoom 001 (Basement)ClockTower Building22 Princes Street
Ph +64 9 3737599 ext 5060
Fax + 64 9 3737458
E Mail: 
Email-Arts Faculty

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