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Award winning performer Gianni-Mia Attrill-Dowling has set her sights on the global stage – and with the support of ACG Strathallan’s dynamic performing arts department she looks ideally placed to get there.
Since starting at the school four years ago, the talented singer and actress has flourished, making her mark on stage, both on and off campus.
“Coming to Strathallan really helped snowball my capabilities and I’ve improved so much as a performer,” says Gianni-Mia, who plans to study musical theatre at Griffith University in Brisbane.
“Contrary to what most people think, many singers are not born with talent and instead have to work at it – and I did. The arrival of Mr Mckay marked the beginning of my vocal exploration. He built my confidence, helped me to pick up the trumpet, and entered our music class into all sorts of competitions. ACG Strathallan’s singing teachers are really fantastic and are so popular they have many people on their waiting lists.”
Since winning the school talent quest with an original song in Year 9, Gianni-Mia has carved her place as one of ACG Strathallan’s most talented performers. A regular soloist at school events, she has represented the school at youth music and dance competition SUSO (Stand Up Stand Out), and was part of an ensemble who performed for an international school in Spain. She also got the chance to audition for Smokefree Rockquest’s national competition after winning People’s Choice at the regionals, and has performed at local Pukekohe events, Papakura Youth Council events – and even sung the national anthem at a national dog show.
“The great thing about the arts is that they always allow you to change and grow with what you are interested in. Singing is so personal and close – it exercises not just your voice but your connection to your emotions. I really struggle with stage fright, especially when it’s an audience of people I know, so I am always challenging myself when I sing in front of people.”
But it’s not just her vocals that are first-class. Gianni-Mia is also a gifted actress and is well-known for her lead roles in school productions.
“I think singing and drama go together like bread and butter – wonderful on their own, but even better together.”
Her first lead in a production outside of school (Pukekohe Performing Arts’ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Junior) saw her nominated for best female youth performer in the Northern Area Performance Theatre Awards. But she says her proudest achievement was making the call back list for an international audition, where she was up against adult performers from musical theatre colleges across America.
Now ACG Strathallan’s Arts and Culture Prefect, the Year 12 student is passionate about growing the performing arts and ensuring it is accessible to all students at the school, even those with little or no experience.
“It’s never too late to pick up a new hobby or skill. I didn’t start dancing until I was 16 but I love it so much. I may not be the best but I know it has really helped me with my overall musical theatre performance. There’s nothing to stop people learning something new at any age.
“Performing arts at ACG Strathallan has come such a long way in the time I’ve been here. Ms Brady, our new dance and drama teacher, has contributed so much to growing the culture. With her help our Arts Council has established a dance movement group, wider interest in AS-Level Drama as a subject, a fantastic AS scripted performance, and great enthusiasm for all facets of drama technique and conventions.”
When she eventually heads off to college in Australia, Gianni-Mia is confident singing, drama and dance at the school will just keep getting better.
“I feel so happy knowing that the school’s performing arts culture will continue to grow under Mr Mckay and Ms Brady’s expert guidance. They have become my mentors and have made a permanent imprint on my teenage life.”