NIDA shares its musical theatre expertise with China
In April, NIDA provided an intensive four-week program of musical theatre masterclasses in Beijing. Partnering with the Really Useful Company Asia Pacific and One World Culture Communications, NIDA staff including myself, Philip Quast, Anne-Maree McDonald, Tyran Parke, and Troy Honeysett, worked with singers and dancers from the China Oriental Performing Arts Group, developing their core skills for mainstream musicals.
China is experiencing a rapidly growing appetite for the performing arts, in particular, musicals, and the need for skills development in this area is a direct result. Whilst the professionals we worked with have exceptional abilities in singing and dancing, we were able to offer insights into creating characters, particularly through improvisation and collaborative storytelling.
Early in our visit, we were invited to provide a one-off masterclass with students at the Beijing Dance Academy, which is an institute very similar to NIDA in that it offers a broad range of performing arts related education and training. The focus was again on improvisation and creative collaboration, and the workshop was very well received. In fact, response to this initial session was so positive that we were invited back for regular sessions during the month, and were asked to work with first, second and third-year students.
The month culminated in a combined presentation by the professional singers and dancers as well as the students, attended by the organisers and industry guests. They performed material from West Side Story, Les Miserables, and A Chorus Line, with a focus on presenting connected, realistic characterisations.
We were knocked out by the talents and abilities of the professional performers as well as the students, and were overwhelmed by the welcome and support we received during our stay.
We are now in discussion regarding further training opportunities with both organisations, and whilst we didn’t have time for sightseeing on this trip, we did have time to experience Beijing cuisine and can happily recommend all of it!
Mark Gaal, Director, Vocational Studies.