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Giving a stand out performance

Giving a stand out performance

Standing in front of thousands of New Zealand’s most pumped-up high school students in theatres across the country is no task for the faint-hearted.

But for the Subway 2006 Stage Challenge MC, AUT University’s Shanan Kiritea-Halbert, it’s just part of his job.

For the second year running, the AUT University relationship manager joins over 14,000 students from over 170 schools throughout the country as they prepare to take the stage with their own theatrical dance extravaganza.

Shanan says there’s nothing else like it.

“Stage Challenge comes at the end of months of rehearsals by students competing against schools in their region. They put their whole life on stage in front of an audience of their family and peers. That’s why it’s called a challenge.

“The biggest thing for me is the energy on the day of the final dress rehearsals and audience participation. It’s awesome to see everyone so excited and stoked to be there.”

Stage Challenge was designed to give high school students a platform for their own performance creativity in a drug-free environment. It is part of the Global Rock Challenge held in 50 locations worldwide.

This year’s Stage Challenge theme is “My life, I decide”. Shanan says AUT takes over the inside of the theatre during the day of final dress rehearsals at each New Zealand location.

“AUT’s right in there with the students,” says Shanan. “We’re encouraging them and revving them up for their performances in front of their friends and family that night. We’re there to make them the best they can be.”

AUT gets students on the microphone, hosts competitions and takes digital photos which are loaded onto a website (

This year, AUT University’s Te Ara Poutama (Faculty of Maori Development) is sponsoring a new award, Te Puutake Pasifika, for cultural content at Stage Challenge. Hamilton's Fraser High School was recipient of the first award.

The AUT connection doesn’t stop there. AUT’s Bachelor of Dance programme leader Jennifer Nikolai is one of the Stage Challenge judges.

Jennifer will look at performance elements of each school’s Challenge entry.

"I am excited about being a judge,” she says. “I love dance and all its many forms and want to spread that passion to high school students.”

Auckland’s Stage Challenge heats are at the ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, June 13-15 with the grand final on July 24. Tickets from Ticketek 09 307 5000. Visit: and


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