The Middle School Performing Arts curriculum is designed to assist students in developing the vocabulary, skills, and attitudes necessary for a high level of accomplishment and a deep level of understanding and appreciation of music, dance, and theater arts. Students at our private middle school take one trimester each of dance, drama, and music during each of their three years in the Middle School. In addition to the required curricular courses, the performing arts department provides opportunities for students to choose to participate in our performance ensembles, chorus, orchestra, and dance ensemble through our middle school electives program. Students may also audition for roles in the Middle School musical.
All sixth graders take dance two times per week for one trimester. Students will learn basic dance technique and work to develop artistic understanding of a variety of dance forms. Classes will focus on different aspects of the dance elements of time, space, and energy. A variety of genres will be presented including contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, ballet, musical theater, and folk dance. Weekly course work will improve students’ alignment, strength, flexibility, coordination, stamina, balance, agility, body awareness/comfort, expression, and musicality. Class activities also include opportunities for basic dance composition and participation in creative problem-solving activities.
Seventh graders meet two times per week for one trimester. Class work will build upon the technical and artistic dance skills learned in sixth grade dance. Additional exploration will include the use of props and an introduction to contemporary partnering skills. Furthermore, students learn about the styles and different artistic approaches of famous American dance choreographers. Students will develop their own original compositions based on the stylistic elements and most salient features of the selected choreographers’ dance compositions.
Eighth graders meet two times per week for one trimester. Building upon the technical and compositional knowledge gained in Dance 6 and Dance 7, students will increase their ability to execute, recognize, and interpret dance choreography and movement direction. Additionally, students will explore how dance impacts and is impacted by other art forms, society, and culture. Students will learn how music, visual art, and technology have impacted the development of dance. Students will incorporate this knowledge in the creation of their own short dance works and will apply the use of technology, music, and art.
Sixth graders take drama classes two times per week for a trimester. The class explores several aspects of drama production through audition, rehearsal, and performance. Acting skills will be developed through individual and group exercises, games, and activities. Small scenes, skits, and improvisations will provide further opportunity for exploration. Emphasis will be placed on building confidence and imagination, learning basic theater terminology, and developing sensory memory.
Seventh graders take drama classes two times per week for a trimester and continue to build upon the skills learned in Drama 6. Acting skills will be developed through individual and group exercises, games, and activities. Stage movement, gesture, storytelling, and scene development are all a part of the curriculum.
Eighth graders take drama classes two times per week for a trimester and deepen their understanding of character development. Acting skills will be developed through individual and group exercises, games, and activities. Work on monologues, scenes, skits, and improvisations provides further opportunity for exploration. Students also develop and present original scripts.
Sixth graders take music classes two times per week for a trimester. The curriculum focuses on the basic elements of music through the study of world cultures and their music. Students learn by singing, listening, and playing instruments. This class supports the sixth grade curriculum by studying the importance of community, culture, and understanding differences.
Seventh graders take music classes two times per week for a trimester. The curriculum looks more deeply at the elements of music learned in the sixth grade, examining the development of music within a community. Students will continue to explore music’s possibilities through practice and performance both within an ensemble and individually.
Eighth graders take music classes two times per week for a trimester. The curriculum continues to expand on the understanding of the elements of music, looking through the lens of composer, performer, and critic. Students study basic musicianship through music theory. Students will explore their unique musical voices, creating their own compositions. Students use problem-solving skills to accomplish authentic musical tasks: creating (composing, improvising, and arranging music), performing (singing and playing music), and responding (analyzing, interpreting, and critiquing music and musical performance).
Performing Arts Ensembles
(Year-Long Commitment). The following ensembles are offered to students in the Middle School who have an interest in performance. While these ensembles meet during the school day, the performance aspect requires that students participate in evening performances throughout the school year. Most ensembles have two evening performance requirements, one in December and one in May. However, the Dance Ensemble has only one evening performance in May, and the musical has two evening performances and one afternoon performance in November. In addition to evening performances, some ensembles perform at various places throughout the community when opportunities present themselves and at events such as Middle School Moving Up Day. As members of any of these ensembles or the musical, students are required to participate in all necessary rehearsals and performances as an important part of their overall learning experience.
Middle School Chorus (6, 7, 8)
The Middle School Chorus is open to all Middle School students who are interested in being a member of a vocal ensemble. Students will learn music of various styles, languages, and time periods, as they prepare to perform in the winter and spring WT concerts and in other outside performances.
Middle School Dance Ensemble (6, 7, 8)
The Middle School Dance Ensemble is open to all Middle School students who are interested in dance and performance. No prior experience is necessary. The ensemble will meet twice each week providing students with an opportunity to explore a variety of dance styles and learn a repertoire of dance choreography. Styles of dance and music include everything from hip-hop and jazz to modern dance and musical theater. Much of the material covered in the ensemble throughout the year will be showcased during the annual Dance Show. Emphasis is placed on developing dance technique, artistry, and performance quality.
Middle School Orchestra (6, 7, 8)
The Middle School Orchestra is open to all Middle School students who are currently taking lessons on a musical instrument and are interested in performing as a member of an ensemble. Although the focus of our rehearsals is to prepare for our winter and spring performances, fundamental musical terminology, music reading, interpretation, expression, and improvisation will be included. Classical, folk, jazz, and contemporary music are incorporated in our endeavor to make the music-making experience a positive, enjoyable, and memorable one. Participation in scheduled dress rehearsals and performances is required of all Middle School Orchestra members.
Middle School Musical (6, 7, 8)
The Middle School musical is exciting for the entire Middle School community. All students are encouraged to audition as performers on stage and volunteer as members of the production crews backstage. The musical is a team creation that blends drama, song, and dance with scenery, costumes, and technical design. Auditions for on-stage performers are held in early September. Crew opportunities, including scenery, costumes, props, publicity, lighting, sound, and stage crew, are announced in October. Students who are cast in the musical will be required to take a Middle School Musical elective during the first trimester of the school year during the elective block. Students who are interested in participating in the Middle School Musical are strongly encouraged to join a performing arts ensemble.