GEORGINA BENISON –
On Friday afternoon, last weekend, the American International School Muscat (TAISM) sports field and courtyard was turned into a veritable extravaganza of food, games and performances from around the world – the world from which TAISM draws its diverse and rich mix of international students.
You needed to have missed lunch to have indulged in the wide range of snacks and gastronomic styles from every country and continent represented by the TAISM community, and there was a whole arena dedicated to Arabic countries offering mezza, travel information and a live Arabic music trio.
After grabbing a plate of delicious Indonesian ‘bami goreng and chicken sate’ – from the stall with the longest queue all afternoon – I headed over to the impromptu amphitheatre to watch the in-house entertainment provided for the relaxation and diversion of families.
The show was presented by Dylan Dwyer as emcee for the day, and after a warm welcome we were treated to the cutest performers imaginable: The Early Childhood students singing “Hooray for the World”, all dressed up in their national costumes, followed by the Kindergarten youngsters singing and dancing to, “My Own Two Hands”.Next up on the open-air stage were two very talented sisters from the Frumau family; a short piano piece from Sophie and then a solo ballet recital from Maria to some well-known Tchaikovsky extracts.
This was delightfully pursued by an Indonesian dance troupe from the school, trained by their talented instructor on the finer points of Javanese hand movements and steps, in the folk dances, “Jali Jali” and “Jaranan, Lion Dance”.We were in for a special treat when our MC for the day, just back from an International Schools band symposium in Amman, put on his jazz performer’s hat and played Harold Arlen’s beloved chestnut, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, but not as you would expect to hear it in the “Wizard of Oz”.Here Dylan allowed his improvising technique on tenor saxophone to let fly, and we were transported to the smokey jazz clubs of – the United States of America!
I just loved the “Sock Hop Rock” which followed; a smart American ensemble of girls and boys, some 6 going on 16, in their 1960s “Grease”-style skirts, winging us back to a by-gone era of rock-and-roll.
The dancing was impressive, and we can look out for some show stars in the future from these talented performers.
After a break for some prize-draws from the sponsors of the day, the show resumed with a very talented local family from Poland.
Entertaining us were Tomasz Gniatkowski on accordion, Maurycy on trumpet, a double-bass player, and songs from Renata, Lidia and Konrad in their mother-tongue, while dancing in colourful national costumes which are rarely seen in these warmer climes.
From the cool steppes of Eastern Europe, we were transported to the warm, sensual beaches of Colombo, as Natalia enchanted us with her National Anthem and a lively dance number to a backing CD.
And from there to the Far East and an exotic “The Jasmine Flower” traditional fan dance from China.
This was beautifully executed, as the opening and closing fans variously formed flowers, snakes and a final tableau in front of our very eyes.
Hard on their heels were the team from the up and coming TAISM Elementary School Musical, “Annie”, complete with buckets and mops, they sang and danced their way through “It’s a Hard Knock Life”, and it was hard not to be swept off our feet by this intrepid troupe of orphans.
Indeed, a taste of things to come next weekend.
Some very talented older students regaled us in the next section of the entertainment, including an excellent ballet solo from Katy Palmer, a Bollywood Fusion Dance from the confident and brave Tanvi Kelkar, a short Spanish guitar piece from Maximus Gelinas and an inspiring piano solo from his sister, My-Linh.
Another session of lucky-draw provided a pause in proceedings and then one of the senior students gave an impressive one-woman-dance performance in four parts, changing her costumes behind a make-shift screen, from northern Iran.
Katy Ghaffari took to the stage as the light was fading, and the ambience created by the shadows only enhanced her mature and captivating gestures.
The show was drawing to a close as the adults moved on stage to sing “The Colours of the Wind” and perform an Indian Folk Dance for the Finale.
The music was over, the food consumed and small children were getting tired.
It was the end of a weekend, but also the conclusion to a very successful enterprise by students, parents and staff of the School in Ghala.
Well done, everyone!