As I mentioned in a previous post, my school’s summer culture festival actually has two parts, the second of which is a dance/performance competition held off-campus at one of the exhibition halls in the city. While the first two and a half days of festival are centered more around selling food and opening up the school to students’ friends and families, the last day, referred to as DISC, is all about showing off.
Several more performance-based clubs – like drama club, brass band, and koto club – get a chance to display their chops for the rest of the school. Lots and lots of dancing, though, takes up the majority of the day.
Each of the homerooms in the second and third grades puts together their own dance routine, complete with choreography and costumes. That might seem like a pretty easy feat, but these kids practice for months and months before DISC, on top of their schoolwork and regular club activities. And you can definitely see all of that hard work in the results.
Just like the rest of school festival, it’s amazing to see just how happy my students are when they’re dancing. (And they dance like fiends. Something about being Japanese must mean that you’re automatically an amazing dancer, because most of my students make my jaw drop.)
One of the things that I love most about DISC is that it lets the kids showcase talents that otherwise might stay hidden normally. I have one student, now a senior, who was one of the quietest in my English lessons. At kendo practice, though, he’s deafening and scary as hell. At DISC, though? He sounds like someone who should be taking the stage of American Idol finals. The kid can sing like an angel, and I’ve never known it – or would have guessed it – until DISC.
Similarly, you get kids from every grouping working together. This might just be my experience in American high school speaking, but I feel like cliques are still pretty prevalent. Naturally, that exists here; dance club kids hang out with each other, baseball players stick together, etc. But because each homeroom takes almost every class together, they’re with each other eight hours a day, five days a week, forty-two weeks a year. And that kind of camaraderie definitely affects something like DISC, because you can tell that they’re totally comfortable together, no matter how different their personalities or interests are.
Some of the routines are pretty linear and understandable. One homeroom had a Toy Story-inspired storyline; another went with something akin to Alice in Wonderland. Some, though, a bit more bizarre. I generally don’t even try to figure out what’s going on in those ones.
And there is a healthy amount of cross-dressing, too. My kids have no shame when it comes to stuff like this. And for some reason there are also a whole lot of High School Musical songs used in the routines. In Aomori High School, at least, “We’re All in This Together” is still a popular choice.