Young gymnasts add magic to Wonderland

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“I’M LATE, I’M LATE”: The white rabbit rushes past Alice who is reading a book, falls asleep and follows the rabbit down the rabbit hole into Wonderland

Classic story told in gymnastic movements

LOUISE KNOWLES

THIS year’s Sunshine Coast Gymnastics concert, Alice’s Adventure, was a multifaceted, dynamic play enacted through the medium of artistic gymnastics, at the Albany Centre last Wednesday  and Thursday

The set was a wonderland of directions for the white rabbit with paths and passages and doorways. Children were hidden in and behind gym equipment, and as they were on stage and moving about all the time, the choreography and timing had to be spot on.

The sold-out show was produced by Kayla Stiekema, 14, with the aim of ensuring that the concert would be entertaining and the parents would be able to enjoy their kids’ performance, said Kayla’s mother, Carol-Ann Stiekema, the coach and owner of Sunshine Coast Gymnastics.

Kayla, an artistic gymnast training at level 9 who will be at Olympic level once she completes level 10, is home-schooled and was given the option of producing the annual concert as her fourth term performing arts project, her mom said.

“Kayla is competing on level 8 at the Anderson’s voluntary competition next weekend,” said Stiekema.

“She trained for three hours in the morning and worked with each child to train them for the concert in the afternoon.”

Kayla choreographed 80% of the dances, including the infinity loop and the trampolining.  Kayla also taught herself Moviemaker and downloaded a movie from the internet which she edited so that it would be only half an hour long, “unlike my mom’s previous plays”, Kayla said.

She even designed the make-up herself using time lapse to see before and after images on the internet. The cast of more than 40 children had to be made up by seven make-up artists who worked on the face painting for two hours before the show using professional kryolan products.

The beautiful costumes of Alice, the Queen of Hearts and Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and the Mad Hatter’s huge top hat, were made by Stiekema who used to be a dress designer, while some costumes were hired from Jolene Campbell.

Stiekema started the gymnastics club nine years ago as a hobby with four children in the Port Alfred High School hall.  But it soon grew into a business and each year they acquired new equipment and eventually moved into their own premises in the Albany Centre.

Many of the young school children of Port Alfred have benefited from Stiekema’s coaching, producing excellent results.

“But I would never have thought I could have come this far or produced a play like this without the help of God,” she said.

In order to raise funds to attend competitions, Kayla, who was unfortunately unable to attend an event in Zimbabwe, has her own Facebook page, Kayla’s Big Dream.

“As far as her homeschool term 4 performing arts project goes, I think most would agree she passed with flying colours,” said her mom.

STRANGE CREATURES: Alice is lost in the forest and paralysed with fear even for the dormouse (played by Deryn Hulley)

DREAMSCAPE: ‘I warn you child, if I get angry you will lose your head,’ said the Queen of Hearts (Mia Marais) to Alice (Jessica Harty)

1. IN CHARACTER: Kayla Stiekema as the Cheshire Cat in the annual Sunshine Coat Gymnastics concert, Alice’s Adventure

IN CHARACTER: Kayla Stiekema as the Cheshire Cat in the annual Sunshine Coat Gymnastics concert, Alice’s Adventure

HE’S MAD TOO YOU KNOW: The March Hare, played by Caitlin Munro, and the Mad Hatter, played by Amelia Downey

HE’S MAD TOO YOU KNOW: The March Hare, played by Caitlin Munro, and the Mad Hatter, played by Amelia Downey

IDENTICAL TWINS: Tweedledum and Tweedledee played by Lilly and Kate Weeber in the annual Sunshine Coat Gymnastics concert

IDENTICAL TWINS: Tweedledum and Tweedledee played by Lilly and Kate Weeber in the annual Sunshine Coat Gymnastics concert

STRANGE CREATURES: Alice is lost in the forest and paralysed with fear even for the dormouse (played by Deryn Hulley)

STRANGE CREATURES: Alice is lost in the forest and paralysed with fear even for the dormouse (played by Deryn Hulley) 

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