Performing Arts Curriculum

Middle School

6th-Grade Drama

This course seeks to help students explore creative expression in a variety of theatrical experiences. Overall goals include building body awareness, enhancing spatial perception, and using body and voice expressively. Since all work in drama is a collective endeavor, working cooperatively towards a creative production is an essential ingredient in this course. Topics may include pantomime, improvisation, movement, and stage design.

7th-Grade Drama / 8th-Grade Drama

Three basic strands—perception, creative expression/performance, and critical evaluation—provide broad, unifying structures for organizing knowledge and dramatic skills that students are expected to acquire in 7th and 8th grades. Perceptual studies help students increase their understanding of self and others and develop clear ideas about the world. A variety of theatrical experiences enable students to communicate in a dramatic form, make artistic choices, solve problems, build positive self-concepts, and relate interpersonally. Student response and evaluation promote thinking and further discriminating judgment, helping students become appreciative and evaluative consumers of live theatre, film, television, and other technologies. Topics may include Reader’s Theatre pieces, play production, scene study, and monologue work.


Upper School


This course seeks to broaden the student-actor's abilities in movement, control, poise, and understanding, and to expand his/her expressiveness, body awareness, and sensitivity to the senses and emotions. Students learn to build their confidence when performing before an audience, using methods developed by Grotowski and Stanislavsky. Students participate in voice, movement, and associative impulse exercises with particular emphasis on physical actions. Work centers on scenes chosen from realistic plays. Students study character development by exploring psychological objectives and how they are embodied in physical actions.

Art of Classic Theater

The Art of Classic Theater is a semester-long survey course that is offered as either a fine arts or literature elective. It introduces students to the major playwrights from Ancient Greece, The English Renaissance, French Neoclassicsm, Realistic Theater, and Existentialism. The class explores acting, directing, design, and research for each of the plays.

Art of Contemporary Drama

The Art of Contemporary Drama is a semester-long survey course that is offered as either a fine arts or literature elective. It introduces students to the major playwrights of the mid-20th century till today, examining the major themes, styles, and designs for their plays. The class explores acting, directing, design, and research for each of the plays.

Dance for the Theater

This semester-long course explores different styles of dance in theater. Students examine the great choreographers of musical theater, including Bob Fosse, Agnes DeMille, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharpe, Michael Bennett, Tommy Tune, and Kathleen Marshall. Students study the styles of these individuals and their contributions to theater, choreograph pieces in those styles, and teach them to the class. The final project is a showcase of works choreographed and performed by students.


This course takes a hands-on approach to the function and role of a director. Students select a script, analyze its structure, do research, and cast scenes to be performed. The work of leading twentieth-century directors is researched and discussed. Students direct one another and other actors in projects, and focus on the discovery of dramatic action through coaching and composition. In the process, they also learn about leadership skills and human interaction.

Improvisation for the Theater

This semester-long course is a fine-arts elective and introduces students to the principles, techniques, uses, and history of improvisation in the theater. Students explore the non-verbal approach to drama; however, some sessions are discussion-centered and deal either with the subject or with students' writing. Students are required to participate daily in class and to complete various writing assignments, including lab reports, essays, reviews of literature, and a written final examination. Evaluation is based on daily participation, written assignments, three exams, and demonstrated proficiency in improvisation as a performer.

Tap Dance

Tap dance is a semester-long course that explores the rhythms and basic steps needed for tap dance. Students observe tap dancing legends such as Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Gregory Hines, and Savion Glover and explore the evolution of the art form from its infancy to modern dance. The course culminates in a dance showcase of the students’ work from throughout the semester.