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Wallan dancer to shine on major stage

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Pam Kiriakidis
Pam Kiriakidis
Pam Kiriakidis has worked as a journalist at the North Central Review since 2022, with a particular focus on the City of Whittlesea and stories for the Whittlesea Review. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media and Communications majoring in journalism and focuses on politics, community, and health with the occasional niche sports story finding its way in front of her.

A Wallan Secondary College student will step up her dance skills on Channel 7 this Saturday as a principal dancer in the Victorian State Schools Spectacular.

The schools spectacular is an annual musical extravaganza uniting a large group of State Government primary and secondary school students to perform in front of a live audience at John Cain Arena in Melbourne.

Filmed on September 9, more than 2000 students took to the stage as circus artists, puppeteers, musicians, singers, dancers and skaters with the support of behind-the-scenes roles in stage management, lighting, sound, costumes and production.

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The students, who performed as principal vocalists and dancers, backing vocalists, in the Victorian State Schools Choir, 51-piece orchestra, or among 1100 mass dancers and 960 mass choir, were required to undertake an extensive rehearsal period to prepare for the show’s magic.

Wallan Secondary College year 10 student Indiana Ojczyk, among other principal dancers, was in about nine performances relating to this year’s show theme – Happy Travels – which follows a group of hapless tourists across the world of circus mayhem.

Indiana Ojczyk, of Wallan, performed in nine songs in this year’s Victorian State Schools Spectacular. ​

Indiana had previously performed at the schools spectacular when she was in primary school.

“When you are that principal dancer, these little kids [in the mass dance] come up to you … and they’ll run up to you with a piece of paper and a pen – they’re like ‘can I get your autograph’ and you’re the one that people look up to,” Indiana said.

The Wallan dancer, who has been taking lessons since the age of three, started learning her dance routines in March, with a few guest-star choreographers including James Maxfield and Jarryd Byrne, both well-known on national dance series and from musicals.

Indiana said rehearsals were intense but provided excellent opportunities to work with some of Australia’s biggest names in dance.

“It’s very straight up, you’ve got to pick up the choreography – if you don’t know what you’re doing, they’re going to let you know you don’t know what you’re doing,” she said.

In that time, Indiana was lucky enough to learn how to engage with cameras in preparation for the live show under school spectacular’s dance director Yvette Lee.

“We had a few dances this year that were specifically made for a camera track, for the broadcast – so we learned a lot about how you can’t fisheye and look into the camera and see yourself,” she said.

“I had a lot of media opportunities this year, so I had a few interviews, and I got to [be] interviewed during the broadcast … you learn a lot about how to talk to the camera as well.”

Indiana said she made great friendships throughout the entire process, from rehearsals to the show’s finale when the performers bonded during their last times on stage.

“It was a really good finale, it was really expressive and just before we went on the finale, they had a deaf choir sign to ‘What a Wonderful World’ – and we were all in tears backstage, so we’re going on the finale bawling our eyes out,” she said.

“[I made] so many new friendships, the spectacular is so good because it’s like a central point – we all come from around Victoria.”

The show airs on Channel 7 on Saturday at 7pm, and will then be available on 7Plus.

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