The Year in Creative and Performing Arts

Dance - “We can't always choose the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it!” (Anonymous)

There have been many changes this year in Creative and Performing Arts. This year we had three new staff join the team, Mrs. Nicola Bartasek as the Music Teacher, Ms. Carly Johnson as the Drama Teacher and Ms. Justine MacCormick as a Visual Arts, Photography teacher and as the Coordinator. Mrs. Laura Pearce continued teaching Dance, Mrs. Liz Igoe-Taylor Visual Arts and Mr. Matthew Reynolds Media.

Throughout the year we have seen a rapid change to the way we deliver content. Staff have been changing the way they teach and putting together online tasks to meet the need of all students. Thank you to Mrs. Susan Anderson, and the support staff, who put together art packs to students without art supplies at home. This ensured students were meeting all curriculum outcomes during the remote learning period. We held our first online Art competition “Appropriation in Isolation” at the beginning of Term 2. We would like to thank all our students who submitted and congratulate our winners:

  • Group Performance: Hannah David-Hoole, Merryn Culhane, Lindsay Holmes
  • Music Performance: Saanvi Bajaj, Hannah David-Hoole
  • Visual Arts: Jessica Kalthofen (High Commendation), Lindsay Holmes (High Commendation), Madeline Ween, Abigail Van Ballegooyen, Guntas Sidhu, Amy Redmond, Anna Mels, Giana Fuertez, Hycenth Meani

In Visual Arts, students in Year 7 and 8 explored printmaking, ceramics, and painting techniques in the Creative Communication unit.

Students in Year 10 explored two units of work. In Semester 1, they completed a unit working with found materials and completing a monochromatic painting. In second semester, Year 10 explored the work of Matisse, Mondrian, and Pollock in the Abstraction unit. Senior Photography completed the Art Photography and Contemporary photography units. These units gave them the opportunity to experiment with their photography practice.

As a faculty we have revived current programs, writing new units for all year groups and developing a plan for the faculty to meet the IB MYP requirements. The faculty participated in an MYP planning day in Term 2 lead by Ms Fairfax.

Mrs. Pearce and Ms. MacCormick have been invited to be part of the BSSS Dance and Photography Course Development. Ms. MacCormick and Mrs. Igoe-Taylor attended the ZART: Nurturing Creativity online conference in the last week of term. Mrs. Bartarsek’s Year 9/10 Music class and Ms. Freeman's choir entered the Echo Fest Schools Online Music Competition. At the end of this year we say farewell to Mrs. Igoe-Taylor who will be going on long service leave in first semester and Ms. MacCormick who will be leaving to re-join her family in Newcastle.

Dance - “We can't always choose the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it!” (Anonymous)

That quotation seems particularly relevant for the year 2020 when nothing has been certain and the rules kept changing, but through all the challenges presented this year we did manage to keep dancing at Merici!

The Year 9s and 10s began the year studying dance in Musical Theatre and we explored some of the themes, cultures and dance styles apparent in well-known stage and film musicals. The Seniors were studying Contemporary Dance and learnt some professional repertoire as well as creating their own original dance composition using artworks as a stimulus. Then we were engaged in remote learning which certainly provided some interesting challenges, but on a positive note I did get to meet a lot of the family pets during our weekly warm up sessions on Teams! Having had to dance alone in our homes for several weeks certainly made us all appreciate the camaraderie of the dance studio when we returned to face to face learning. The Arts industry has maintained its creativity throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and the Senior class were fortunate enough to view and study a performance of the highly acclaimed musical ‘Hamilton’ when it was screened on Disney Plus.

The Dance students were disappointed at not being able to participate in the usual public performances at the Canberra Theatre this year, but they have continued to  develop their choreographic skills and have collaborated to create their own group routines selecting their own choice of music and costumes. Devising their own routines provides opportunities for the students to develop their independence, experiment with their own ideas, problem-solve and explore themes that are relevant to their lives and then express themselves through the dance. We all hope that next year the theatres will re-open so that we can enjoy the experience of live performances, both as audience members and as performers.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Year 12 student, Olivia Willshire, who has successfully auditioned for a number of Tertiary Dance courses, here in Australia and overseas. Olivia now has the difficult task of choosing which Dance course to attend! I wish her continued success in her Dance career.

Laura Pearce, Dance Teacher


Music @Merici - 2020 has seen the re-introduction of Music as an elective at Merici College and a group of very enthusiastic girls embarked on courses in both Year 9 and 10 and in the Senior School.

Year 9 & 10 Music has focused on performance with girls spending much of their Wednesday double singing and playing in both small and class ensembles. Repertoire from Musicals, Program Music, Jazz and Fusion Rock has been explored as the girls gained confidence in their music skills. This culminated in the class entering an online performance competition ‘Echo’ which took the place of a music festival held annually in Bendigo, Victoria. The girls did an amazing job of singing the Jazz classic ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing’, accompanied by Merici’s own piano teacher Jaki Kane. With the expansion and updating of both the software and hardware available in the Music room, girls have also explored and gained experience in using ‘Sibelius’ composition software to help them develop their own creative ideas.

In Year 11 and 12, Merici’s senior class embarked on the study of Film Music and Contemporary and classic Rock Music. With some girls having never learned an instrument before the start of the year, progress has been made in starting, developing and eventually performing a number of pieces on acoustic and bass guitar as well as piano and voice.  The girls have also spent time analysing the role of music in film, studying iconic film composers including Bernard Herman, Ennio Morricone and of course John Williams.

The girls have certainly risen to the challenges and rewards of studying music in the unique setting of 2020.

Nicola Bartasek, Music Teacher



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