Director’s Chair

It takes a full 12 months to prepare for Dance Education Centre’s annual ballet show. We talk to DEBBIE GOOCH about what it’s like to sit in the Director’s chair.
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She’s one of the first to arrive at DEC each day, and the last to leave each night. And in the lead up to this December’s show of Jack and the Beanstalk, Debbie Gooch will be working all hours to ensure a top notch performance hits the stage.
“The children get underway in the last term but in terms of arranging the music, the choreography, costuming, the scenery and everything else, you have to be organised,” she explains. “We have to book our slot at Baycourt two years out. Planning a story to fit a ballet format is the first step, then we choose music and sewing gets underway in February. Six months out we begin work on the scenery, props and other things.”
While Prue Gooch oversees the artistic aspects of the show, Debbie ensures the business side is taken care of such as rehearsal schedules, liaising with Baycourt, designing the programme and artwork, marketing, communications and ticket sales.
Performing in a DEC show has a huge number of benefits for the children involved, she says. “It teaches them about commitment and teamwork – about being part of a greater whole, not just their individual class. They also learn valuable theatre skills which you can’t teach in the studio such as entrances, exits, performing in what seems like darkness, knowing special people are there watching, being on time and being prepared. The older students always step up to help the younger ones with any nerves and to keep the groups cohesive and presentable. You don’t get that experience anywhere else.”
Debbie says she enjoys the unique challenges that each show brings, and the camaraderie of everyone involved.
“We always have ideas of what we want to do, then it’s about a whole lot of people sparking up to make it happen because they’re not usual things – you don’t go down the road to buy a beanstalk! So all of that ingenuity comes together and we have a lot of fun coming up with different ideas and solutions for props, scenery and costumes.”
Despite the long hours involved, there’s also immense personal satisfaction in watching the DEC children grow and mature through the performance process. “I have come through the same training as a child so there’s much to pass on to future generations. I enjoy sharing my experience and knowledge with them.”
Debbie says there’s an energy that goes with creating a show like this and it’s extremely powerful having so many families involved. “For me, the satisfaction is the experience those children are going through. They certainly get challenged and usually all make that step forward by thinking of the show and less of themselves. It’s a very giving time.”
This year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk will be staged at Baycourt on Friday December 13th and Saturday 14th. To purchase tickets, visit the DEC shop or Baycourt’s ticket office.