Teachers roll up, roll up for the performance of a lifetime, writes Kristie Kellahan.
As one of the largest performing arts events in Australia, the Victorian State Schools Spectacular includes a cast of almost 3000 students.
Professionally staged in September each year for an audience of more than 10,000, the spectacular provides an invaluable opportunity for Victoria's government school students to showcase their performing talents.
The three-hour show celebrates choir, dance, vocal, drama and orchestra. Students are given the opportunity to work with internationally renowned industry professionals before performing in front of thousands of people.
And it's not just for the standout performers with extraordinary abilities. Schools can participate either as part of the massed dancers or the massed choir or both, with no audition process required by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development's Performing Arts Unit.
Expressions of interest from the school must be endorsed by the principal and have a dedicated contact teacher nominated.
As head of dance and drama at Ringwood Secondary College, Kate Tanner teaches senior classes and has a hands-on role in preparing students for the event.
"We have had students perform as principal dancers, principal singers, orchestra members, a small specialist tap group, back-up singers and a mass dancers' group," she says.
Tanner says her students cannot wait to be part of "a rewarding, challenging and exciting performance" each year.
"The students enjoy meeting other students and learning from the professional choreographers, music and stage directors, and when on stage they thrive in front of the enormous audience," Tanner says.
"They are often a bit star-struck by the senior performers; however, they understand they are equally an important part of this event, contributing to its success."
Tanner says the experience garnered opportunities for some students performing for Prince Charles and on The X Factor.
"These types of incredible opportunities are quite rare and generally out of reach for the majority of state students," Tanner says.
"The experience really builds up their confidence in their own abilities and opens their eyes to an exciting world of possibilities."
Even for teachers with no formal dance training or ability, Tanner recommends getting involved.
"All of the skills required for the performance are taught in a friendly, relaxed and enjoyable manner, and the students are supported through the entire process," she says.
School expressions of interest for the massed dance and choir ensembles are open until December 3.
For more information, see www.education.vic.gov.au/spectacular, or phone (03) 9415 1700.