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Author: Celine Gibson

Molls Dolls

The dames of dance: how the award winning dance group ‘Molls Dolls’ got their collective groove on

Molly Chapman was four years old when she donned her first pair of tap shoes and clicked her way across the floorboards. Born and raised in Dunedin, Molly grew up in a family that was, and still is, very involved in musical theatre. “My sister plays leading roles and directs musicals in Dunedin, and my brother acts and directs too.”

Molls Dolls

Molly taught tap in Dunedin and continued to teach it when she moved to Christchurch, aged 22. Her love of dance was passed onto her son, Hayden Withers, who graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in 2014, and is now New York based, and wowing audiences at Off Broadway. “Hayden’s my
inspiration,” Molly says.
The birth of Molls Dolls came about when the mother of a young girl she taught suggested Molly take a class for adults, as well as preschoolers. The same mother also suggested the name Molls Dolls.
It was while attending a Masters Games event with a softball team, which Molly says was enormous fun, that she became aware that the Masters had a Dancesports category.
She returned home with a plan in mind and wasted no time in putting out the word she was looking to teach tap to adult women. She set up a dance studio in her home and in 2015, Molls Dolls were up and tapping.
In 2016 they competed in their first Masters Games in Dunedin. “Our team comprised six ex-tap dancers. We were in the Formation Team section of the Dancesports and the crowds loved us so much that we returned home wearing silver medals!”
Fired with such a win, Molls Dolls headed to the Masters at Wanganui in January 2017. “But this time there were 11 of us (three teams) and we came away with Gold and Silver.”
On Waitangi weekend of this year, Molls Dolls competed at the Masters, again; by now the three teams had grown to 21 dancers, aged from 37 to 69. They made a clean sweep, with the red and silver team winning the gold medal, the blue team taking out the silver, and the black and gold team getting bronze. They also got the silver medal in Show Dance.
The girls are super industrious when it comes to fundraising. “From May to August we make up to 300 dozen cheese rolls, per run – we’ve even made over 1,200 dozen!”
Next up for these indefatigable dames of dance is the Masters Games in October at Timaru and Wanganui in February, 2019. “We’ve also been invited to an Australasian Competition called Follow Your Dreams, with a qualifying competition in Christchurch in August. If we qualify then we’ll be heading to Melbourne in January 2019.”
Molly says her dancers inspire her and have brought so much fun into her life. “The girls give me so much joy. I don’t think I would have survived the hard times without them; they make Molls Dolls!”
For more information, email molz@xtra.co.nz.

Flash Fiction

The flashest fiction: National Flash Fiction Day

Up and down the country writers are pounding their keyboards, pausing only to scratch their heads as they scrabble to craft a flash little story that will be awarded the flashest little 300 words in Aotearoa.

Flash Fiction
“Every word is precious and precise.”

Last year’s National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD) competition saw Christchurch writer – and former Metropol scribe – Rachel Smith, awarded runner-up, while first place went to Auckland writer, Patrick Pink, for his flash Gunshots Are Too Common.
“Flash is a concentrated moment, a distilled glimpse, the juicy essence between characters, setting, conflict and time,” Patrick says of the genre.
“Every word is precious and precise. Flash challenges the writer. Flash is poetry. Flash is meditation. It restricts and releases. Flash is the visceral stuff of heart and guts.”
Founded in 2012, NFFD is now one of the most anticipated writing competitions in New Zealand.
The 2018 round is open until 30 April and, as New Zealand’s celebration of the shortest form of fiction writing, winners are announced on the shortest day of the year – 22 June. This year’s judges are acclaimed short story writers, novelists and poets Tracey Slaughter and Sue Wootton.
Last year, NFFD launched the Youth Category, and this year sees Patrick and poet/writer Tim Jones as judges in this space.
NFFD 2018 introduces a te reo Māori prize in both youth and adult categories, judged by poet/ novelist and short story writer Vaughan Rapatahana.
This year, the fourth annual Micro Madness series will also run, with 22 micros selected for inclusion, and three winners will be selected from the 22 finalists.
So, calling all Cantabrian writers…the challenge is on! Think you can fashion that flashiest flash? Well then… head to those keyboards – pronto!
Held at Space Academy, June 22 from 6-8pm.
More news and updates, including other publications and competitions involving New Zealand writers of compressed fiction, can be found by visiting
nationalflash.org.

The Himalayas

Building hope in the Himalayas: how four people set out to make a difference in Nepal

Just when it seems the world is suffering a surfeit of doom and gloom stories, along comes a story big-hearted enough to illuminate the entire universe. Along comes Project EBC and four fabulous people – Mike Lowden, Bette Chen, Tina Morrell and Fergus Flannery.

The Himalayas
“IF ANYBODY CAN UNDERSTAND THE HARDSHIPS THIS FAMILY HAS ENDURED, IT’S CANTABRIANS.”

Project EBC (Everest Base Camp) was born from the coming together of like-minded individuals whose passion and vision for Everest initiated a two-fold mission: to trek to Everest Base Camp (at an elevation of 5,364 metres) and to help a family from Khumjung Village rebuild their earthquake-damaged home.
The home belongs to Tshering Thundu (Sandu), his wife, Tangii, and their four children. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake of April 25, 2015 wrought such havoc that Sandu – a porter and guide for more than 15 years who has summited Everest five times – and his family have had to camp under canvas ever since; not pleasant when winter temperatures can plummet to minus 15.
“If anybody can understand the hardships this family has endured, it’s Cantabrians,” Tina says.
The cost for the materials and freight for the repair of the family home exceed NZD $20,000. Funds raised in excess of building and repair costs will aid in the children’s schooling and any surplus to support the Project EBC team, which will be working on-site in Khumjung for two days alongside local Nepalese tradesmen.
This is ‘trekking with a mission’. With a goal of raising $25,000, Project EBC ran the 2017 Mount Cook Marathon as a team and raised $1,800+; they completed the 2017 CBD Stampede Obstacle Course, and on February 17 hosted a fundraiser gala dinner which raised more than $7,000.
“It may seem only one family’s benefitting,” says Fergus, “but the community will help build the home – the ripple effect from that can’t be measured.”
Tina nods, “A bit like conquering Everest – one step at a time.”
For more information, visit
www.projectebc.com.

Singing in Italian

Cantare in Italiano: learning to sing in Italian

If you’ve long dreamed of singing Italian and sounding Italian, then Claudia Lues can help you realise your dream.

Singing in Italian

“I think my love of music began in the crib,” says South African born Claudia. “My parents are Italian; my mother sang all the popular Italian songs, including opera and my maternal grandfather was a conductor, so music surrounded my entire life.”
In response to the earthquakes, Claudia pitched the idea of Italian singing classes to the Canterbury Workers’ Educational Association (CWEA). “I felt the need to do my bit – to help traumatised people.”
The CWEA gave her a ‘test run’ to ascertain interest. “That was in 2014. I began with six students then it kept growing. Now I have 15…and I would love more!”
Claudia says there’s no need to feel apprehensive about singing in a foreign language. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Italian; the joy is in singing the words – that’s how you learn the language.”
The song repertoire ranges from classics to modern – “From Puccini to Bocelli, we do it all,” Claudia says. “My students say the class is the highlight of their week; they’ve grown to love the language so much, they’ve taken trips to Italy!”
Claudia feels very fortunate to be doing what she loves most. “It’s who I am – a musical Italian. To share my passion and make people smile, that’s my goal. For me, it’s pure pleasure.”
For more information visit
admin@cwea.org.nz.

Crazy Clampett Chaos

Crazy Clampett Chaos!

Oil That Is, Black Gold…Texas Tea! Yes, ma’am, you heard right. That rag-taggle bunch of Hillbillies are coming to town, and they’re promising all kinds of crazy Clampett chaos!

Crazy Clampett Chaos

Produced by Craig Hutchison of CAS’n’OVA PRODUCTIONS, The Beverly Hillbillies is the second show to be directed by Rebecca Wakelin. In 2016 Rebecca directed Dad’s Army and had such a ball, she couldn’t wait to get back in the director’s chair.
The Beverly Hillbillies calls for 22 characters, with 17 actors on stage. “I love big shows and I love big casts,” Rebecca says. “We are only in the second week of read-throughs, but already there’s a great sense of camaraderie amongst cast and crew.”
Along with crotchety Granny, peace-maker Jed, heart-throb Jethro and the lovely Ellie-May, the show sees the return of unscrupulous banker Milburn Drysdale and his ostentatious wife Margaret, and Drysdale’s secretary, the prim and proper Miss Hathaway.
“We’d love for people to dress the part – flaunt their favourite Hillbilly look. We plan to have the Clampett’s car (a near spot-on replica) parked outside the theatre, so people can pose as ‘the Clampetts’ and have a photo or two of a fantastic, fun-filled show.”
That’s as genuine a heart-warming invitation as the Clampett’s ‘Ya’ll come back now – y’hear?’
The Beverly Hillbillies: 19 April – 28 April. Bookings information visit
www.casnova.co.nz/theatre.
Metropol has two double passes to The Beverly Hillbillies to giveaway. To enter, head to www.metropol.co.nz/win. Entries close on Monday 12 March and winners will be notified on Tuesday 13 March.