Laurel School believes the fine arts enrich daily life at many levels. The arts are basic to a well-rounded education. Through varied experiences, visual, aural and tactile senses are developed and the student learns to communicate through non-linguistic expression. Creative ideas are transformed into various art forms through the development of specific skills. Viewed as a link to the past, the arts help students look at civilization, culture and experience as contributing to the making of modern society. Performance, creativity, analysis, research and criticism are all vital components of the fine arts program.
Laurel School’s approach to the Performing Arts curriculum balances process with product. Emphasis is placed on building technical skills and making informed artistic choices. We encourage girls to embrace creative challenges and to think critically and creatively about the arts. Through their classroom experiences in technique and performance, students leave Laurel with both an appreciation for and the skills necessary to allow them to enjoy the arts for the rest of their lives.
Dance I (first semester, .5 credit)
Dance I is a class designed for students who are interested in learning the basics of dance. This course will cover a variety of movement styles including modern, contemporary, ballet, jazz, hip hop and West African. This class will help students build their understanding of how to learn and perform, create and critique dances. Students will incorporate the different forms of technique into different exercises that will expand their range of movement, strength, and flexibility. Students will engage with relevant videos, articles and written responses in order to deepen their understanding of modern dance and their awareness of themselves as dancers. This class may be taken to fulfill one semester of Physical Education or one semester of Art credit.
Dance II (second semester, .5 credit)
Dance II is designed for students who are interested in engaging with a more challenging level of dance curriculum. The class will teach and help students to develop more complex technical abilities in modern, contemporary, ballet, jazz, hip hop and West African. Students will engage in conversations and exercises that focus on the intention that drives dance. Through the observation of themselves and of peers, students will reach higher levels of musicality and expressivity. This class may be taken to fulfill one semester of Physical Education or one semester of Art credit.
Glee Club (year-long course, .5 credit)
Glee Club is a large choral ensemble open to all Upper School students who enjoy singing and performing while possessing a desire to be a member of a committed ensemble that tackles an exciting and diverse women’s choral repertoire. Through the music they perform, students are exposed to the fundamentals of music theory, including rhythm, pitch, form and style. Students also learn proper rehearsal technique, vocal health and how to practice outside of rehearsal. The repertoire is dominated by works from female composers and poets and spans centuries of choral music representing the medieval and renaissance periods to the romantic and contemporary eras. Examples include Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, Vivaldi’s Gloria, excerpts from Thompson’s Frostiana, Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs and Fauré’s Messe Basse. Glee Club performs frequently throughout the school year including in two major Upper School music concerts as well as off-campus in collaboration with other Independent School choirs. Glee Club is graded Pass/Fail only.
Choir (year-long course, .5 credit)
Laurel Choir is the graded and auditioned chamber choir that is open to all members of Glee Club (students must be in Glee Club to participate in Choir). Laurel Choir provides strong musicians the opportunity to develop their understanding of music theory, broaden their exposure to high-quality women’s choral repertoire, and practice their sight reading skills through practice and individual assessment on solfeggio syllables. The Choir sings demanding and varied repertoire that is mostly unaccompanied, features non-traditional harmony, and contains text that is set by composers in foreign languages that include Spanish, Latin, French, German, Italian and Russian. Students in Laurel Choir are expected to demonstrate musical leadership in their participation in Glee Club, and are offered formal leadership opportunities on the Choir Board which works closely with the Director to govern the two choral ensembles. Laurel Choir performs at Senior Speeches, All-School Assemblies, two major Upper School music concerts, and sometimes at regional choral festivals, adjudications and domestic tours.
Chamber Orchestra is an instrumental music ensemble open to those Upper School students who are experienced musicians (have played an instrument for three or more years) and who are interested in being a member of an instrumental chamber ensemble. The make-up of the ensemble changes each year with regards to the instruments played by the students who enroll. The focus of the ensemble is on building a repertoire of chamber music with exposure to a variety of musical styles, genres and composers. Examples include arrangements of Fauré’s Pavane, Barber’s Sure on This Shining Night, “Inverno” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and Haydn’s String Quartet in F Major. Members of the Chamber Orchestra are frequently featured as soloists and in collaboration with Laurel’s choral ensembles. Students are expected to practice regularly outside of rehearsals and are highly encouraged to enroll in private lessons either through Laurel’s After-School Music Academy or with a private teacher outside of school. The Chamber Orchestra performs frequently throughout the school year including in two major Upper School music concerts and at All-School Assemblies and programs. Chamber Orchestra is graded Pass/Fail only.
Fundamentals of Acting (first semester, .5 credit)
“Acting is doing” in this semester course that explores the fundamentals of acting through experiential learning. Daily exercise encourage girls to discover characters’ intentions and motivations; gain practical tools to pursue character objectives; and develop strategies for approaching Shakespeare’s text. Students explore physical action through non-verbal movement, open scenes, improvisation and sonnets, even as they building interpersonal skills, self-awareness and an understanding of collaborative “creating” through a theatrical context.
Introduction to Stage Production I (first semester, .5 credit)
This hands-on course introduces the basic elements of technical theater and their applications. Students learn about lighting and sound systems by working with theatrical equipment; after an introduction to electronic and hand tools, they are primed to discover the fundamentals of set construction. This is a practical course that focuses on technical information, safety, theatrical vocabulary and creativity. Assessments for the class consist of daily participation credit, class projects and written personal responses. This course can be taken more than once as each semester of the course will focus on new topics and skills.
Introduction to Stage Production II (second semester, .5 credit)
Students continue to develop an understanding of the elements of technical theater and their applications in this course, deepening knowledge of lighting, sound, equipment and tools. Students will work on the technical side of the Upper School musical production as well as other performances during the second semester. Completion of Introduction to Stage Production I is not required for enrollment in this course. This course can be taken more than once as each semester of the course will focus on new topics and skills.
Scene Study (second semester, .5 credit)
Find your mark, look the other fellow in the eye, and tell the truth.—James Cagney
In this performance-based class, students develop their theatrical skills as they discuss, analyze, create and perform scenes from both classical and contemporary plays. Theater games and exercises provide students with character development skills that allow them to play their scene work with purpose, passion and intention. Scene Study provides girls the opportunity to play and create in the comfort zone of a character.
Testimony Theater (second semester, .5 credit)
This course is for students interested in creating theatrical works based on survivor experiences. Students will meet and collaborate with Holocaust survivors of the local Cleveland community and create a dramatic piece using voice, movement, simple costumes, music and props. We will perform in an event open to the entire community at the end of the semester. Prerequisite: completion of Fundamentals of Acting
Voice and Movement I (first semester, .5 credit)
Expand your range, increase your acting potential and acquire the tools needed to play the roles you want to play! This course provides young actors with a strong foundation in voice and movement technique specifically designed to increase vocal range as well as to increase your physical ability to perform a wide range of characterizations. Students pursue a dynamic and physically demanding exploration of Laban’s principles of movement for the actor and Bogart’s Viewpoints, as well as unarmed hand-to-hand combat. These exercises are designed to connect the thought to the voice and to the body and to build skills that will elevate the student actor to the next level of her potential. This class may be taken to fulfill one semester of Physical Education OR one semester of Art credit.
Voice and Movement II (second semester, .5 credit)
A continued exploration of techniques introduced in the first course in this sequence, Voice and Movement II offers students the opportunity to perform monologues and to delve into scene work; in the latter, they discover ways to deepen character connection and increase the power of relationship. Students do not need to have taken the Voice and Movement I course to be successful in this course. Students also explore the fundamentals of the Suzuki Acting technique and physical disciplines. Curriculum is fluid and students can take this course more than once for arts credit. Students can also receive Physical Education credit for participation in this arts elective.
In this college level course students examine how theater differs from other arts and how theatrical artists bring an event to life on stage. Working independently and/or collaboratively students complete a series of playwriting problems and one acting problem. Students read at least five plays and a number of essays about the theory and practice of theater, complete a series of brief written assignments and take written examinations. As a culmination of the course, each student writes, directs and presents a final short play on which she has worked with her classmates. Any student with a general interest in the theater will find this a challenging course, regardless of previous experience. Open to Juniors and Seniors.
Prerequisite: departmental recommendation and acceptance of the student’s KAP application by the US Office and Kenyon College