Visual Arts, Drama & Dance
We don't have electives here. We want students to try everything.
Visual arts are taught weekly by specialist teachers and are also integrated into other subjects, in all grades K-8. Our aim is to foster a love of making in all of our students and confidence in themselves as artists.
Emulate, innovate, and take risks
We provide opportunities for self-expression through a variety of materials and concepts, leading students to discover their own creative methods. We nurture student artists to develop autonomy in the studio and to become intentional members of a community of artists. All students display two pieces of artwork in the themed Annual Art Exhibit, where they also answer questions from parents and other students.
The curriculum 'spirals' during the course of their journey
Each year we return to certain concepts and techniques such as: representing what we see through self-portrait; still life drawing; figure drawing; watercolor; printmaking; and sculpture. As our perspective matures and our abilities increase, the same pencil or clay in our hands responds more easily to reflect our intent.
Visual Arts Faculty
Developing a Unique Voice
Our students undertake years of vocal, musical, and dramatic training as well as participation in community assemblies and Town Hall. Students may choose to play their instrument, dance or sing during an Ensemble or Solo Performance Day or at the year-end Talent Show. By graduation, we find that our students are able to stand in front of groups and speak or perform confidently--the culmination of our focus on the development of each student’s voice.
Performances of Understanding
Beginning in kindergarten, lower school students participate in creating scripted performances, often including singing and dancing. These help to crystallize the students’ understanding of a theme or subject in a dynamic and embodied way. Working together on these all-class dramatic performances also provides ideal opportunities for developing class spirit and cohesion.
Each grade rehearses two of these "Performances of Understanding," performing it for the other lower school students and separately for their parents.
Drama is Not an Elective
In sixth and seventh grade, the weekly drama curriculum focuses on creative expression and imagination, along with the development of theater skills. Periodic drama performances accompany our cross-discipline study of works by various playwrights including Shakespeare, as well as student’s original scripts.
Sixth and seventh grade students have one drama class per week, and eighth graders have two.
Here are a few examples:
Kindergarteners construct insect costumes and tell a story inspired by Eric Carle’s The Grouchy Ladybug.
2nd graders each perform as one of the heavenly bodies or extrasolar objects as part of their planets unit.
4th graders study the Gold Rush, then perform a story based on The Great Horned Spoon.
8th grade culminates in an all-class open performance that showcases student skills in character development, improvisation, performance techniques, and play writing.
Authentic & Collaborative Movement
Expressive arts like these require (and thus improve) concentration, following direction, problem solving, improvisation, using language in new contexts, and finding ways to communicate both verbally and nonverbally.
Students in kindergarten through third grade learn a variety of folk dances, along with the songs that accompany them, in their weekly music classes.
Kindergarten and first grade students also enjoy a creative dance class that explores rhythm and space in a playful and nonjudgmental atmosphere, cultivating the integration of body, mind, and feelings. Students learn to convert impulses and ideas into coordinated movement. They develop self-awareness, cooperation, and a sense of both belonging to and contributing to the group.
In the upper school, dance is integrated into music classes throughout the year. Students will often create or learn dance choreography to accompany the music they are currently studying. We also host dance workshops with guests such as the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe.