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Christchurch schools get Antarctic dance lesson

Christchurch school students had a special dance session with internationally acclaimed choreographer Corey Baker, who originally hails from the city and recently staged the first dance in Antarctica.

Students from Lyttelton and Yaldhurst primary schools busted out their best dance moves for Baker on Thursday as part of a school visit program organised by ChristchurchNZ and Antarctica New Zealand.

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Baker will share some of the insights and challenges he faced in Antarctica while creating four-minute dance film Antarctica: The First Dance and engage students in some fun and interactive movement.

The award-winning choreographer grew up in Christchurch and attended Yaldhurst school. Earlier this year he transformed the penguin-populated ice desert of Antarctica into the backdrop for the first ever dance film staged on the world’s last great wilderness, aimed at raising awareness about climate change and environmental sustainability.

ChristchurchNZ general manager of attraction Linda Falwasser says this is a great opportunity for our children to explore and connect with Antarctica through dance and expression while highlighting our city’s unique relationship with the icy region.

“Christchurch is one of five Antarctic gateway cities globally and an official gateway city for Antarctic research and operations, making it a leaping off point for exploration and research in extreme conditions,” Ms Falwasser says.

“We’re thrilled to partner on projects like Corey’s which raise awareness of climate change and for our city’s links with Antarctica on a global platform,” she says.

Antarctica New Zealand GM Communications Megan Martin says, “What happens in Antarctica affects the rest of the planet … and vice versa. People don’t always make that connection.”

“Corey’s beautiful ballet has captured a new audience, and now his creativity is helping Christchurch school children connect with and learn about the southern continent.”

Christchurch’s council owned international air and sea port are important logistics hubs for the Antarctic and our involvement in the Antarctic is a vital source of social and economic benefit for the city.

“Christchurch has strong education, research, and business opportunities associated with the Antarctic region, which comes from our city’s strong manufacturing and technology industry,” Ms Falwasser says.

“It’s also great that our city now has Christchurch Antarctic Gateway Strategy, which will further strengthen our commitment and relationship with this precious continent – for us and future generations,” Ms Falwasser says.

“Our vision is for Christchurch to be an Antarctic city where we celebrate and realise the value of our gateway status for the benefit of the city and the nation, for current and future generations.”

Baker visited students at Hornby Primary School as part of his Christchurch school tour, as well as Lyttelton Primary School and Yaldhurst Model School.

Baker was granted rare access through the prestigious Antarctica New Zealand Community Engagement Programme to create an unforgettable performance in an extreme environment, with support of Antarctica New Zealand and economic development agency ChristchurchNZ

He collaborated with director of photography Jacob Bryant for this project and the film features Royal New Zealand Ballet star Madeleine Graham. The four-minute dance film Antarctica: The First Dance was released on Earth Day, April 22.

Baker has since choreographed an Antarctica-inspired Mozart piece which is currently touring with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. A 60minute documentary detailing Corey Baker and his dance team’s 15-day residence with scientists at Scott Base will be released later this year.

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