A new competition at Te Awamutu College is just like the popular television series Dancing with the Stars, except students pair up with staff to put on an entertaining and unpredictable performance.

In Dancing with the Staff, teams battle it out on the dance floor in front of the school each week to prove who has the best moves.

Teacher Laurel Mason and Year 11 student MJ Neethling in the semi-final, which they were eliminated in.
Teacher Laurel Mason and Year 11 student MJ Neethling in the semi-final, which they were eliminated in.

Dancing with the Staff

was initiated by Te Awamutu College Year 12 student Rylan Richardson. The arts lover and drama student decided the school needed more creative arts activities.


"I was watching Dancing with the Stars and I thought — what if we did Dancing with the Staff? My attitude is 'make what you want to happen, happen'," he says.

So Rylan got to work.

The 17 year old pitched the idea to principal Tony Membery who gave it the go-ahead.

The next task was asking teachers and students to sign up to the challenge.

Rylan says it took a bit of convincing to get staff onto the stage — but the result was worth it.

The competition has been running throughout the term and began with 11 teams, which have steadily been eliminated by judges.

Throughout the week the student teaches the staff member the new dance.

They squeeze practices into lunchtime breaks or study periods.

Each week has a different theme including hip-hop, 80s, Broadway, Kiwiana and Top 40 hits.

The dancers have sourced costumes from local stores, op shops, theatre companies, the school's costume department and borrowed from family and friends.

The last-standing two teams — teacher Bernard Oliver and student Jamiee Gielen, and teacher Taylor Hunter and student Danielle Morton — will compete in the finals tomorrow, with the theme 'dancers' choice'.

Rylan says the weekly competition is a hit.

"The whole hall fills up with students and staff eager to watch the performance."

Principal Tony Membery supports the event and would welcome it back next year.

"It brings another level of humanity to our staff," he says.

"It lets teachers show students that they can get up on stage, not take themselves too seriously, make mistakes and have some fun."