Students in Middle School art classes this week combined art and service in an effort to raise awareness about hunger within the Los Angeles community. They wrapped up their handmade ceramic bowls in brown paper and string, and wrote notes with Thanksgiving wishes to give to those receiving a bag of food from the Middle School Thanksgiving Food Drive. Betsy Hall, Director of Service Learning for the Middle School, said this about the project: "The bowls are a powerful symbol the importance of food and the need to be satiated. In addition, we hope it let's families know that we are thinking of them during this special holiday."
Our arts faculty, artists and performers themselves, offer instruction in visual arts, dance, music, and theater. In every course, our teachers strive to foster self-knowledge, a willingness to experiment and take risks, an understanding that through art we create and reflect culture, and a commitment to the creative process. Exhibits, recitals, and productions throughout the year celebrate our students’ accomplishments.
In the Middle School, during both their 7th and 8th Grade year, students are required to develop their skills and creativity by choosing from one of the following performing arts offerings: Choral Music, Instrumental Music, dance, and drama. They will also select one of the following visual arts offerings: digital art, sculpture, and studio art.
In Movement, we will explore fundamentals of all dance forms. These are space, time, and levels. In order to explore these concepts, we will use an eclectic mix of dance styles such as: contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, African and Michael Jackson week, and break dancing. We will focus on choreography in which the students will do a deep exploration in to how to make a dance. Students will learn about all the tools that are needed to create a successful dance. Students will investigate how to make a dance through the viewing of live and recorded performances. Students will create small pieces throughout the semester which will be developed into a final piece that will be performed for the class. Students will explore creative movement with props such as skate boards. We will also use improvisation, live and recorded performances to understand these concepts. At the end of the semester the students will perform in the winter or spring dance recital.
Middle School Dance Company
Middle School Dance Company is a year long class designed for students who are passionate and dedicated to dance and movement. In this course students will study classical and new forms of movement (Such as ballet, jazz, break dancing, and contemporary). Students will have a chance to experience traditional forms of movement (ie: African) and pop dance (ie: Hip Hop). We will also learn about the history and cultures that surround each of the dance styles studied. In addition to investigating dance technique the students will explore choreography, costuming, lighting, and set design. Students will have multiple opportunities to create their own dance pieces and share them with the Brentwood community. Students will not only perform their own works but the works of professional dancers. We will use the tools of live and recorded performances as well as guest artists to further our understanding of the diaspora of dance. This class is by placement only.
The art of drama is an exploration and communication of the human experience. From improvisation to character creation to acting technique, becoming a student of drama will encourage your creative side to emerge. You will develop the ability to relax, to trust, to expand your capacity for empathy and to look at the world through a creative lens. You will learn how to be confident on stage through playing theater games, performing scenes from plays and by writing monologues and dialogues with your classmates. Through collaboration, you will discover new ideas and skills and you will share these discoveries with our community through performance.
Middle School Theater Company
To stand before an audience and tell a story through dramatic art is a thrill unlike any other. To learn how the dramatic form of expression can enlighten, surprise and inform an audience is truly exciting. Through dramatic study, each student can define their point of view on the world while studying acting techniques and the history of theater. As an advanced performance ensemble, you will learn to connect with others and explore the creative process through scene work, character analysis and performance. The year will begin with an introduction to acting technique and an exploration of ensemble work. Through improvisation games and story telling exercises, the students will develop their creative voice both individually and as an ensemble. In small groups, they will develop scenes and stories to bring to the stage. The year will include a rehearsal period and performance of a dramatic production. This course is intended to be an advanced level study of theater in the Middle Division, open to students who are committed to participating in a production and being a dedicated member of a performance ensemble.
Band I is a beginning concert band of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone horn, French horn, electric bass, and percussion players. The number of percussion and bass players is limited. We develop musical skill and perception through rehearsing and performing a varied repertoire of music. Students will master the instrumental and music reading skill to audition for jazz band or orchestra for the following year. This class may only be taken once. Students ordinarily provide their own instruments, but the school has some instruments to borrow. Contact Mr. Crocker by August 1, about selecting which instrument to study.
Chorus is a full-year performing and learning ensemble of young men and women. Through the study and performance of many styles of music, students will learn how to share musical patterns, emotional communication, and awareness of culture and history with an audience. Our activities in chorus center around the goals of improving individual vocal technique as the voice changes, learning to read and write musical notation, building effective group rehearsal and performance behavior, practicing ear training and musicianship, and developing musical style and perception through a varied repertoire of music.
Orchestra is a full-year, intermediate level performing and learning ensemble of string, wind, brass, and percussion players. Through the study and performance of many styles of music, students will learn how to share musical patterns, emotional communication, and awareness of culture and history with an audience. Our activities in orchestra center around the goals of improving individual instrumental technique and practice skills, learning to read and write musical notation, building effective group rehearsal and performance behavior, practicing ear training and musicianship, and developing musical style and perception through a varied repertoire of music.
Rhythm Section Workshop
Rhythm Section Workshop is a performing and learning ensemble of drum, piano, guitar, and electric bass players. Through the study and performance of many styles of music, students will learn how to share musical patterns, emotional communication, and awareness of culture and history with an audience. Our activities in rhythm section workshop center around the goals of improving individual instrumental technique and practice skills, learning to read and write musical notation and charts, improvisation, building effective group rehearsal and performance behavior, practicing ear training and musicianship, and developing musical style and perception through a varied repertoire of music.
Sculpture students in the Middle Division visually explored emotional intelligence by creating sculptures that represented an emotion on the mood meter. Students first charted their mood on the mood meter and explained why they were feeling that way. They delved further into these emotions by answering the question, "What happens to our bodies and minds when we feel this way...?"
The ripple effects of Upper School teacher Rob Michelson's travels to Cuba in recent years continue to be felt at Brentwood. During Upper School Arts Week, we welcomed Cuban artist Lázaro Salsita to conduct hands-on workshops in all three divisions.
Rob explains: "Lázaro Salsita warmly invited Brentwood students into his home and workspace for a two-day collaborative art project in Havana during our Spring Break trip to Cuba. We talked briefly then about how exciting it would be to return the favor and welcome him to our school. At the time, he had just secured a tourist visa to visit New York City to see his teenage son and, after arriving in the U.S. last summer, Lázaro began connecting with artists and educators. He soon realized that a world of opportunities unimaginable for him in Cuba was opening up for him here in America. By September, he had made the decision to stay in the United States and support his ongoing community art project in Havana with money earned here. Over the past 6 months, Lázaro has conducted workshops at several schools and colleges in New York and New England and has participated in a two-week artist retreat in North Carolina. He's so busy, in fact, that we were very lucky to lure him to Los Angeles for Upper School Arts Week."