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Rodney Hide really knows how to act up!

ACT Party Leader Rodney Hide really knows how to act up!

The high-profile politician from Auckland's Epsom electorate has gone from strutting his stuff on the dancefloor to wearing tights as a "defender of the forest" in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The good-humoured personality, who won legions of fans for his never-say-die style on Dancing With the Stars, has signed on to work with full-time performance students at the Corelli School of the Arts in their annual pantomime.

Rodney will play Butterburr - a bumbling dwarf who never gets it right - in the panto written by acclaimed British playwright and pantomime writer Norman Robbins. It will feature 40 students from the "fame-type" school whose skills range from the visual arts, dance and drama through to music.

Original score has been written by the school's principal, David Selfe, and musicians will be directed by Daivd Woodcock (King Kong). Five professional musicians will also join the students on stage during the performances to be held at the school's purpose-built complex on Auckland's North Shore in June.

Mr Hide's appearance follows what is becoming a proud tradition at the school involving high-profile working performers or personalities to work alongside students. Previously, Suzanne Paul has appeared in Puss in Boots, Michael Barrymore in Aladdin and Celine Turner in Cinderella.

He's quite excited about playing a "defender of the forest".

"It's all about encouraging these kids to follow their dreams as artistes," says Hide.

"If by me wearing tights and having a laugh (and people laughing at me) makes a difference to their lives, well it will all be worth it. Taking the plunge on Dancing with the Stars was a very big one for me. Perhaps it wouldn't have been such a big leap if I'd been encouraged to pursue my interests in the arts at an age these kids are. They are taking that plunge from age 5 and by the time they're my age, they will be stars!"

School principal David Selfe - a veteran of the West End and working session musicians for international performers touring New Zealand - says the involvement of professional entertainers and/or personalities gives students inspiration to continue their studies.

The Corelli School of the Arts - located on the site formerly used as the hospital set on Shortland Street - is one of a kind in New Zealand. Children as young as five through to university can study there full-time, completing normal curricular activities as well as devoting about 30% of their day to performance.

Performance modules include visual arts, dance, singing, music and drama - all under the one roof.

With qualified staff and a comprehensive timetable, each class has a maximum of 24 pupils dedicated to the achievement of excellence in the performing and visual arts and the standard general curriculum. Up until now, this standard has only been attainable through study overseas.

European models upon which this school is based include: The Yehudi Menuhin School and the Purcell School in London (of which David Selfe, the Principal of The Corelli School, is a graduate).

The purpose is to create an environment where the joy and appreciation of the arts is recognised and fulfilled through in-depth study, by like-minded individuals (running in conjunction with the standard curriculum). This enables graduating students to be of an international standard, therefore widening their opportunities for tertiary study or a professional career in the arts, if that is their goal.

The Transformation


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