Dance is alive and well in Auckland's high schools, judging by the creativity, commitment and polished performance given to the 41 dances presented by teenagers in this year's You Dance Festival. This was an opportunity to show the way their high school dance courses have been developing their abilities, and what they have learned about making dances of their own.

Doubled in size from last year's festival, groups came from 16 high schools as far away as Tauranga, and were joined by five Auckland region youth dance companies.

Overall, the standard was higher than last year, the dancing more assured, the choreography more complex, and there was an almost even split between student choreography and dances devised with them by teachers or guest choreographers.

Every group gave their all, dancing up a storm to show just what they can do, and audience applause was generous at all times.


Highlights ranged widely over the two nights of performances.

Most impressive among the larger group works were Atlantis from Rangitoto College, an abstract dance by a very disciplined group of 10 young women moving almost as a single entity; Hidden A-Gender, performed by 13 young men and women from Rutherford College, exploring the way expectations and secrets tend to unravel if not expressed; and Ormiston Senior College's noirish, thoughtful, street-inflected work, for 16 dancers, We Have Come to be Danced.

Also very popular were the very personable, large-scale constantly changing formation dance You've Got Mail, collaboratively developed by dancers from Auckland Girls' Grammar and University of Auckland Dance Studies, and Glenfield College's utterly effervescent Bollywood Troupe of 15 dancers.

Smaller scale, student-created works which impressed included a gutsy solo, Wanna Be Free, choreographed and danced by Jess Woodroffe of Rosehill School to show how damaging bullying can be, and how much better life can be when you stand up for yourself; and Compulsive Habits, a dance for five from Rutherford College created by Rodney Tyrell, which was notable for compositional attention to spatial arrangements and transitions.

The youth companies also impressed, with accomplished dancing and thoughtful choreography.

Pointy Dog's charmingly reflective dance-on-a-rug for five, Memoirs of an Empty Chair, and One Step Beyond's Escaping Peer Pressure, drew the audience into the interactions between the dancers.

About 10 dances from this festival will be selected for presentation in October as part of the Secondary Colours showcase during the Tempo Dance Festival.

What: You Dance Festival 2013
When: June 6 and 7
Where: Centennial Theatre, Mountain Rd.