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Juggling exams and rehearsals all routine for Spectacular students

Preparing to finish high school is daunting enough but spare a thought for the Higher School Certificate students who are gearing up to shine in front of millions of Australians.

Pedro Donoso

Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School student Pedro Donoso is splitting his time between studying for his HSC and rehearsing to be a featured dancer in Schools Spectacular.

While many of their classmates have been frantically preparing for the upcoming HSC exams, around 20 of the stars at the centre of this year’s Schools Spectacular are putting their multitasking skills to the test.

With less than a fortnight until the first day of exams, the Schools Spectacular featured artists spent a week of the October school holidays immersed in intensive rehearsals at the Department of Education’s Arts Unit in Lewisham.

“This is an exciting time for every featured artist,” Schools Spectacular Creative Director, Sonja Sjolander said.

“They will be introduced to their songs and be given the inspiration and guidance to make it their own.

“From here on the momentum of preparation really gathers pace as we build up to our four performances on Friday and Saturday, 22 and 23 November.”

Killara High School student Leah Berry said balancing the stress of both study and performance was something she had experienced during her six previous Schools Spectacular appearances.

“Last year during show week I was doing an English assessment that was due two days after Spec, so I had to balance that time,” Leah said.

“I balance my time so I won’t get stressed for these things because the idea of being stressed when you’re trying to enjoy something like Spec just makes the experience not much fun.”

Pedro Donoso, who will sit his HSC at Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School, said that his six years of experience in Schools Spec had prepared him to focus on doing his best.

“Obviously there are nerves that come with the HSC as well, and when you overcome those nerves by just saying to yourself, ‘I’m doing this for me, I’m not doing this for anybody else, I’m doing it to benefit my own wellbeing’, is when you actually produce your best work,” Pedro said.

“That, in turn, is giving yourself a favour, because that’s when you get your best results.”

For many of the featured artists, including seven-time Schools Spectacular performer Tana Laga’aia, this year’s show will be a “last hurrah”.

“For me, with finishing and this is my seventh year of Spec, it’s just going to be an amazing way to close out the year. These performances, the shows and the rehearsals, are always just so much fun,” Tana said.

During the busy week of holiday preparation, Ms Sjolander said the featured artists were engaged in an interpretation and presentation workshop, rehearsals of their songs and segments, simulation of a showrun and blocking of the choreography for their performances.

It also marked the commencement of a regime of practice at home and regular rehearsals with some of the other 5,500 participating students.

“The dedication that these young people devote to performing at their best is truly remarkable and a credit to all those who support them in their endeavour,” Ms Sjolander said.

“The real reward comes as they thrill audiences at Qudos Bank Arena and through the Channel 7 networks across Australia.”

The featured artists will join 5,500 performers drawn from public schools across the state for the show with the theme: STARS.

The galaxy of talent includes 57 featured artists, a 100-piece symphony orchestra, stage band, 2,700-voice choir, 2,300 dancers, the D’Arts Ensemble disability program, the Aboriginal Dance Company, puppets and an indispensable behind-the-scenes team.

In the true spirit of variety, the fast-paced show will transition through a colourful choreographed kaleidoscope of music from pop and hip hop to the classics, from a crescendo of massed voices to stunning solos, and a full spectrum of dance styles.

Four performances will be staged on Friday, 22 (11am, 7.30pm) and Saturday, 23 (1pm, 7.00pm) November.

Tickets, available through Ticketek, are already selling fast so now is the time to secure your preferred seats.

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