Arts & Culture at Dio
The arts are an integral part of school life – whether it is performing or producing art for public performances or exhibitions, or simply for personal fulfilment and enjoyment, we believe that creativity is a vital part of education.
Visits to art exhibitions, galleries and theatre performances - as well as the hosting of performance groups in the school, ensures the girls get wide exposure to the arts. On stage or back stage, there is an arts and culture opportunity for everyone.
School productions are a highlight of the school year and music, speech and drama lessons are available to all students.
Kaupapa Māori at Dio is whānau based and whānau focused. Inclusive of Te Reo Māori me ōna tīkanga and kapa haka, students gain a sense of pride and belonging under the leadership of our Amokura (Māori prefect) and her Mana Wāhine council.
Our school year starts with the whole school pōwhiri by our kapa haka group to welcome new staff and students. This is followed by the annual Cuppa at the Kura evening for new and existing whānau to meet and greet.
At the beginning of term two, all Year 11 students attend camp at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawāhia, home to one of our most famous old girls, the late Māori Queen, Te Arikinui, Dame Te Atairangikaahu. This very spiritual camp aims to help students understand more about Kaupapa Māori, which is underpinned by Tainuitanga, and experienced in the very heart of the Kingitanga.
In term three, we celebrate Māori Language Week, and our annual Whānau Dinner showcases students' achievements and successes of the year in the concept of whanaungatanga.
Arts Opportunities Offered
Dio Arts & Culture Stars
The earthquakes certainly haven’t shaken the theatre scene at Christchurch’s The Court Theatre. The theatre produces eight main-stage shows a year, four kids’ shows, late-night comedy every Friday and Saturday, and four shows on their smaller stage at The Forge. It keeps Ashlyn Smith (Class of 2009) busy in her role as Stage Manager, bringing shows such as Mary Poppins, MacBeth and Romeo and Juliet to life on the stage.
As stage manager, Ashlyn needs to know everything about a show, from lighting and sound to props and costumes. It is her job to attend rehearsals, keep the script up to date and coordinate the backstage, scene changes, fast costume changes, technical rehearsals, and lights, sound and audio-visual. “I love the fast-paced, changing nature of the work. You've got to have the ability to be flexible and understand that each show has different needs and what may have worked on one show doesn't necessarily work on the next; so you've got to be able to constantly come up with plans A,B,C,D…”
That fast-paced nature can add some interesting challenges to the job. “Sometimes you'll have under a minute to assess a situation and make a decision on how to deal with an issue. It can be quite chaotic when a radio mic breaks - you can have up to three people working on one actor to get it going again in the 20 seconds they have off-stage.”
It was a Dio school trip to the Auckland Theatre Company that first sparked Ashlyn’s interest in theatre. Her Year 11 Drama class had travelled to watch She Stoops to Conquer and she was particularly impressed with the way the theatre was staged. “What blew me away was they had a garden as their set! A real living garden! It was beautiful. I was amazed and had so many questions about how they keep it looking so well, especially under very heat-intensive lamps for four weeks.” After Dio, she attended Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School and graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Management).
Ashlyn has a few favourites from all the shows she’s worked on. The first being a 12-part episodic show called Public Service Announcement at the BATS Theatre in Wellington. “It’s absolutely chaotic and only has a day-and-a-half rehearsal before it opens! It’s mental, crazy and fun.” Her other favourite shows involved some tricky stage magic - Equivocation by Bill Cain, which included two hangings in every performance, and Mary Poppins, which involved a flying Mary, ridiculously fast costume changes, and “so many tricks and magic that half the fun was working it out in rehearsals.”
Mary Poppins also provided one of Ashlyn’s favourite pieces of feedback, which came from a young boy. “As I walked past I heard him say ‘WOW, Mum, I'm going to work backstage here!’ That made me very proud of what I do.”
I love the fast-paced, changing nature of the work. You've got to have the ability to be flexible and understand that each show has different needs.