Many children find themselves drawn to the stage. Performing is in their blood. But while many schools fail to provide sufficient opportunities for these students to explore various performance forms, Jerudong International School (JIS) is not one of these schools.
The Arts Centre at JIS is the largest of its kind within South East Asian, growing increasingly popular since its opening in October 2011. Modern in design, traditional in purpose, the centre is now a hub of inspiration for young creatives at the school and within Brunei.
Music and the Arts are an essential component of every child’s education. The best schools foster the creative side of young minds along with the academic. The Performing Arts team at JIS does exactly that, granting pupils an authentic feel for what it’s like to perform on the professional stage.
Read on to learn five of the best things about performing arts at JIS…
1. It’s incredibly inclusive
Every student at JIS is encouraged to get involved in some shape or form with Performing Arts, regardless of their age or existing skillset. This enables students from multiple backgrounds, social circles, and ages to mingle harmoniously. Friendships are formed between pupils who may not have otherwise crossed paths.
The aim of the performing arts programme is to amplify the skills of each child and to allow them to find their ‘voice’. Formal Drama lessons start with specialist teachers in Year 3 and are a compulsory part of the curriculum until Year 9 (14 years). Every year, children from Nursery through to Year 8 will be involved in some style of performance. From Years 9 – 13, in the IGCSE, A Level or IB Diploma courses, the students can choose to study Drama, Music, Art and Design, and Design and Technology. These senior students perform in 2 productions per year. However, through the Co-curricular programme (CCA), other students can participate too in the Whole School musical, a play or in the Junior Production. Other CCAs include a Drama Academy, a range of dance options and also a prop making club! Each of these productions on stage are supported by a large student team behind the scenes making costumes, designing, building and painting the set, sound and lighting, hair and make-up – every aspect of a show!
2. The range of exciting performances
It’s a fact: JIS knows how to put on a show. The range of productions the school invests in is seemingly limitless. A favourite among both the school and the local community is the annual musical production. Presently planning for a major musical in March 2018 (watch this space!), the School has put on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Les Miserables, Oliver! Little Shop of Horrors and Grease with students and audiences enjoying the vibrant dance routines and stunning sets.
This stage at JIS is no stranger to diverse performances. It has even seen special visiting acts from overseas, including the renown UK Globe Theatre perform ‘Hamlet’, the Toyota Classics – most recently the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (RPCO) from London. The school music team offer a range of musical performances from concerts to chamber ensembles, wind ensembles, five different choirs, jazz bands, rock bands, guling tangan, weekly concerts for the students – by students, ‘Battle of the Bands’, JIS Idol and so the list goes on!
Every year the school puts on around 30 performance events, exhibiting its students’ wealth of drama, dance, and musical talent. These performances bring everyone together, offering jobs for all who wish to be involved while the buzz of excitement zips up and down school corridors.
3. The theatre is second-to-none
The school’s auditorium is sophisticated and majestic, boasting internationally-engineered acoustics that can be used for just about anything from orchestral and choral concerts, to conferences; from theatrical performances, to award ceremonies. The theatre is so impressive, it recently received a visit by the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
This space can easily adapt to suit many different sizes and purposes. The auditorium seats up to 725 audience members at full capacity, along with an additional 19 VIP guests. Hundreds of performers have taken to the stage, moving both the parents and members of the public.
The theatre is equipped with fantastic lighting and audio-visual systems, plus black box and flexible staging facilities that mimic Broadway and the West End. Backstage, you’ll find modern, spacious dressing rooms dedicated to school performers, ensuring all pupils are happy and comfortable as they prepare to rule the stage.
4. It’s not just the theatre on offer…
But the JIS Arts Centre is so much more than just its celebrated theatre; in addition to the auditorium, the centre is home to an exhibition gallery, a large dance studio, spacious music rehearsal facilities, and other smaller soundproofed music, drama, and dance spaces.
The Foyer and Exhibition area is open and spacious. It’s the ideal backdrop for more intimate events, musical or drama performances, and exhibitions. Here, students can experiment with complex theatre theatrical concepts where the audience is much closer to the performance.
JIS students are constantly immersed in the world of performing arts. Once a week, the school hosts lunchtime concerts in the Exhibition area, while Art and Design pieces by both the pupils and the public are continually refreshed in the Gallery.
The centre’s dance studio is classically designed, with sprung wooden floors and ceiling-to-floor mirrors covering the walls. This space is used regularly in and outside of class for both teaching and rehearsals.
Some JIS rehearsal rooms are also used for smaller productions. One is available for hire and seats an audience of 150. Early Years students often use this as a preparation space for their grand theatre performance.
5. There is so much future potential
JIS instils students with both the skill and the confidence needed to succeed in the world of performing arts. By inspiring a passion for the arts from a young age, the school nurtures well-rounded students equipped with innate creative flair and academic knowhow.
For those who aren’t keen to pursue performing arts as a career, encouragement in the subject area helps them gain sought-after transferable skills. The confidence needed to perform – especially on a stage as large as JIS’s – is invaluable to any young person. For those who don’t take to the arts naturally, the school help to bring out the creativity that lies somewhere within every child.
Born-performer or not, JIS is giving pupils an edge over their peers, sending them to college, university and eventually the professional world with the confidence needed to thrive.
Whether it’s a small gaggle of students practicing dance in a rehearsal room, a brand-new art exhibition in the gallery, the students’ Battle of the Bands or JIS Idol, a full-blown musical production in the auditorium, or simply a singing lesson; there’s always something going on at the JIS Arts Centre.