Thursday 24th September

Breaking Barriers with Music and Dance

Three days, thirty students, and the weaving together of music, dance, and creativity.

From 2-4 September, a collaborative team of two musicians from the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and four dance tutors from mixed ability dance company Jolt worked with a group of students from the special education, drama and music units at Mt Aspiring College as they brought together their unique skills, interests and abilities in an innovative performing arts project called Tukutuku.

Meaning “weaving together” and sharing the name of the decorative woven wall panels found in the wharenui (meeting house) of a marae, Tukutuku is a unique project that brings together students in special education units and those in the general school population to create something that breaks down barriers and preconceptions about people who have different needs and capabilities.

The programme was first piloted by the CSO and Jolt in Gisborne Girls’ High School in 2019 as a part of the Gisborne International Music Competition activities, to great aplomb and success. The Gisborne Herald wrote, “A special magic shone out of a collaborative production of dance, music and spoken word.” (17 October 2019)

Jolt, the CSO, and the Gisborne International Music Competition were jointly awarded a highly commended certificate for Tukutuku in the 2019 Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards. 

Over the course of the three days, where students were devoted entirely to the project, while the tutors got to know them, their styles, abilities and creative ideas. Students also learned some skills like drumming and ukulele playing to help them along as they created their pieces for the final performance. Students were also encouraged to write their own songs, poetry and original music to be woven into the final works that respond to each student’s musical tastes and dancing styles.

Mt Aspiring College student Matai Wells, who plays the clarinet and saxophone, said through that through the programme, he became much more aware of what could be done through music and dance. "Working with HQ [the special education unit] was great. The whole process had a very fun atmosphere while still being productive and interesting." 

HQ student Fleur said she really enjoyed the project. While the final performance was daunting, since she was going to be performing in front of some of her friends, she found it helpful to work with the older mainstream students and have them understand how hard she had to work to achieve what might be easy for them. 

“I’m hoping the students will all see everyone’s creativity,” said CSO Head of Community Engagement Cathy Irons, who is one of the musicians involved in Tukutuku. “Of course we want them to see their own creativity too, but also to realise that there’s something beyond the surface of each person and people’s preconceptions of them and what they can do.”