Welcome to a New Year in PA!

It is so exciting to be back at CDNIS for another great year of singing, dancing, drama and playing instruments! As our school transitions to using Seesaw as a tool for communicating student learning and announcements home, this blog will become a more static page with general information and celebration from Performing Arts in Grade 1-3. There are also designated pages for LS Strings and CDNIS Timbertones for students who choose to be a part of those ensembles.

I spent an amazing summer in the Volta Region of Ghana with a school called the Nunya Music Academy. There I worked with other music teachers to learn music and dance of West Africa. I’m excited to share what I learned with the students of CDNIS! Get ready for a lot of drumming and dancing!

To keep track of what’s going on in Performing Arts throughout the Lower School, I encourage you to follow all of our accounts:

LS PA on Twitter
LS PA on YouTube
LS PA on Flickr

There are so many methods of communication here at CDNIS, but the best one is via email. You can contact me at ashleybenusa@cdnis.edu.hk  Looking forward to seeing you in the LLAC!

End of Year Jams

Students in Grade 1 and 2 have ended the year singing a variety of songs which will culminate in an end-of-year sing along in the Forum on the last day of school. They’ve had so much fun with them that I thought I would post them here so they can sing them at home as well!

Save the Afternoon! After School Performing Arts Opportunities

Next year, the Lower School Performing Arts Department is excited to offer many after school experiences for the 2018-2019 school year. As you organise your child’s schedule for next year, keep the following opportunities in mind:

Treble Timbertones, led by Ashley Benusa will meet Tuesdays from 2:45-3:55. It is open to any student who loves to sing in Grade 3 to Grade 6.

LS Intermediate Band led by Kimberly Butler will meet Wednesdays from 2:45-3:55. Students who are already studying a wind instrument or percussion in Grade 3-6 are welcome to audition to be a part of this group.

LS Strings Ensemble led by Ashley Benusa will meet Wednesdays from 2:45-3:55. Students who are already studying violin, viola, or cello outside of school in Grade 3-6 are welcome to audition to be a part of this group.

LS Beginning Band led by Kimberly Butler will meet Thursdays from 2:45-3:55. Students in Grade 4-6 will have the opportunity to start an instrument from the beginning and work within an ensemble setting.

LS Dance Troupe, led by Carole Saunders is a new LS offering. It will meet on Thursdays after school for Grade 4-6.

More information about joining each of these ensembles will come out in August.

Getting Ready for G1 Spotlights!

Our Grade 1 Spotlights are coming up soon! We will be using shadow puppets, dance and singing to tell the story of the Chinese zodiac. Here’s what you need to know to help your Grade 1 child get ready for their performance!

Performance Dates:

Tuesday, May 8, 8:30am – 1A/1C
Tuesday, May 8, 12:30pm – 1B/1D/1E

What to Wear:

Performance dress that is appropriate for dancing. Girls are asked to please wear shorts under their clothing so that they can move comfortably on stage.

Help your child to “practice” at home by asking them to think through their performance with them. By transferring these ideas to a different environment, students are able to solidify the flow of their performance better!

  • Ask your child about their special job. What are they teaching the audience about dance? What do they like about this part of the performance? What do they dislike?
  • Ask your child to teach you “Sashay the Donut.” Who do they dance with? What moves do they enjoy? What moves are tricky for them?
  • If your child has a line, help them to memorize it, or at least speak it fluently with expression and confidence.
  • Ask your child to sing through “Animal Boogie” and “Celebration” for you, watch the videos below, as your child, how is the version for the Spotlight different?

Grade 3 Spotlight Performance Guide

We’re very excited for our Grade 3 How We Express Ourselves Spotlight in March. This year’s performance will have a new format which will involve the whole grade level performing at the same time! With so many bodies on stage, we want to share our learning more than once. We will give two shows, one first students on Monday, March 12 at 1pm and one for parents on Tuesday, March 13 at 1pm.

Below you can find information on how you can prepare for the Grade 3 Spotlight outside of Performing Arts class. You can also find the presentation that we use for lyrics and the form of each performance here. Each culture group has some work to do memorizing and solidifying their performance role. Each group also has a costume option for their performance. This is optional and should come from the students existing wardrobe, there is no need to purchase clothes for the Spotlight!

New Zealand

What everyone needs to do:

  • Have Tutira Mai and E Pa Pa memorized (don’t forget the moves to Tutira Mai!)

What Team New Zealand needs to do:

  • Find black clothing for your costume
  • Decorate your sticks (optional)
  • Practice your moves with your partner
  • Make your poi and practice (for the small poi group only)


What everyone needs to do:

  • Memorize the chorus for “I’se the B’y”

What Team Canada needs to do:

  • Find rain jacket, rain boots, rain hat, jeans or plaid shirts for your costume
  • Finish preparing your instrument and know how to play your ostinato on it!
  • Memorize your solo (if you have one) and work on your jig (if you’re doing one)


What everyone needs to do:

  • Memorize El Condor Pasa

What Team Peru needs to do:

  • Find a hat to wear in your dance
  • Boys if you have a poncho, girls if you have a shawl, bring it in for a costume!


What EVERYONE needs to do:

Memorize the song!

Grade 3 Call for Materials to Make Instruments

G3 has been engaging in some exciting work in preparation for our G3 Spotlight in March. While the dates and times for our performance are still being finalized (it will probably be in the afternoon of March 12 and or 13), we do need to know that we need to collect materials from home to make some of our instruments.

A dozen students are planning to make “ugly sticks” as part of the Newfoundland kitchen party tradition of Canada. Take a look at how you can make this instrument here:

To make the ugly stick and some other instruments we are asking Grade 3 students to scour their homes for the following:

  • old shoes/boots that are not worn anymore
  • jingly things that can be screwed onto the ugly stick (ie. bottle caps, washers, keys, metal rings)
  • tin cans (clean them first please!)
  • combs

Ms. T in the Maker’s Space will help us with the construction of ugly sticks in the coming week, so the sooner you bring your materials in, the better! Make sure that you understand these materials are donations, we can’t guarantee that you’ll get them back!

Also, several Grade 3 students have been interested in making poi from the Maori culture in New Zealand. Here is a video of how they can do that (please note, you can just ball up plastic bags to make the stuffing instead of buying new cotton fluff!):

A New Year in PA!

Happy New Year Lower School! Can you believe we’ve been at school for three weeks already! They have been busy ones!

It’s been a while since we’ve had a general update on what has been going on in PA for Grade 1, 2 and 3. Take a look below!

Grade 1 – Intro to Drama Unit – January-March 2018

Central Idea: People use the arts to communicate ideas, feelings and experiences

Lines of Inquiry:

  • Adopting voice or emotion of a fictional character
  • Listening and responding in role to other characters in role
  • The responsibility of an audience member vs. a performer

In this unit students will learn about tools for an “actor’s toolbox” including actor’s neutral, projection, mime, and tableau. We learn that actor’s use these tools to communicate their emotions and stories. Ask your child about games like “Space Walk,” “Sock Monkey” or the story “Stone Soup.”

Students will build upon what they learn in this unit in their Arts Spotlight in May. Their Spotlight will feature work from dance, drama, music and (hopefully) visual arts. Stay tuned!

Grade 2 – Drama Unit on Characterization – January-March 2018

Central idea: We can use our voice and body as a means of expression.

Lines of Inquiry:

  • The way body and voice can be used to depict a character through specific voice and body exercises and activities.
  • Experiment and develop vocal control in the use of character voices, impersonations and accents
  • Portray and sustain a character posture in a given situation

In this unit students will build on the work that they did in drama last year as part of their Spotlight and begin to look at how to use their voice, body and gestures to portray the role of a character. Through the vehicle of fairy and folk tales, students will not only embody a character as an actor, but also extend their thinking by changing well-known plot lines and outcomes. Ask your student about the Japanese folk tale “Momotaro-san”, soundscapes, “Good Evening Your Majesty” and “Hot seating.”

Grade 3 – How We Express Ourselves Transdisciplinary Work – November-March 2018

Central Idea: People can discover and express different cultures through the arts

Lines of inquiry:

  • How culture can be expressed
  • What influences the artistic expression in different cultures

This unit is our big Spotlight unit in Grade 3. Through our work in the classroom and PA, students will unpack world arts cultures from around the world. In PA, students will dig deep in the cultures of New Zealand, Peru and Canada. In March, students will present their work sharing what these art forms look like, but some universal understandings that we have discovered about music and dance around the world. Stay tuned!