Performing Arts at Beaver offers many disciplines of artistic and personal expression including dance, acting, design and technical theater, costume and fashion design, choral music and instrumental music. These disciplines introduce students to the basic vocabulary of the art forms and illustrate the constant dialogue between the arts and our society. Each member of the department strives to teach fundamental skills while also stressing the theories and concepts that accompany these skills.

Requirements

All students must complete twenty full arts credits within the visual and/or performing arts department by the end of their sophomore year. This requirement may be met by taking two full years of a given field of study or by sampling a variety of disciplines within the departmental electives. Many students opt to take art for more than two years.

 

Honors

Only Select Singers is offered for honors.

Course Descriptions

Dance

Choreography Foundations

This course will provide an in-depth study of movement and choreographic tools through the lens of dance as it appears in pop culture (film, live music performance, commercial hip hop, etc). Along with viewing dance through a critical lens, coursework will offer students the opportunity to develop a greater sense of body awareness, self-confidence, and self-discipline by learning how to express emotion and a point of view through movement. Through solo and group projects, students will have the opportunity to put into practice some of these elements of choreography. Coursework will culminate in a final presentation that will include original compositions by the students. 

No Prerequisite Required.
Open to grade levels 9,10,11,12


Design and Technical Theater

Foundations of Costume & Fashion Design

In this introductory course, students will develop a foundational understanding of the principles of costume design, fashion design, and the construction skills needed to create clothing. Drawing from many disciplines and utilizing a variety of skills and technology, students will learn to research and visually communicate their ideas through a series of projects. Students will explore the visual communication, history, and impact of clothing both on the stage and in everyday life in addition to gaining the skills and techniques needed to create their own clothing. Skills involved in this course include research, collage, sketching, digital sketching,  figure drawing, pattern reading, sewing (machine and hand), painting, and craft. 

Two Term Course
No Prerequisite Required.
Open to grade levels 9,10,11,12

Costume & Fashion Design Studio (BVR-X)

Drawing from many disciplines and utilizing a variety of skills and technology, students will learn to research and communicate their ideas through a series of student-driven individual projects and mainstage shows. Students will explore the visual communication, history, and impact of clothing both on the stage and in everyday life, and they will develop an understanding of the principles of costume and fashion design.  Students will also gain the skills and techniques needed to then create their own designs. These techniques may include research, collage, sketching, digital sketching,  figure drawing, sewing, draping, pattern making, tailoring, dyeing, distressing, painting, and craft. This course can be taken more than once. 

Three Term Course
Prerequisite: Foundations of Costume and Fashion Design or permission from instructor. 
Open to grade levels 10,11,12

Advanced Costume Design and Construction

Advanced Costume is a one-term, process-to-production course designed to prepare students for 2 public performances at Beaver.  The course begins by focusing on script analysis and design, and then students work as costume technicians and designers to bring the play to fruition with the Advanced Theater Acting class. Costume roles can include design, draping, construction, craft, and wardrobe. Students entering this class should be highly motivated and interested in an intense and exciting experience that requires a great deal of commitment. Recent productions include Durango and The Wooden Heart

One Term Course: Winter Term 
Prerequisites: Costume and fashion Design Studio or permission of the instructor.
Open to Grade Levels: 11 and 12

Foundations of Costume & Fashion Design

In this introductory course, students will develop a foundational understanding of the principles of costume design, fashion design, and the construction skills needed to create clothing. Drawing from many disciplines and utilizing a variety of skills and technology, students will learn to research and visually communicate their ideas through a series of projects. Students will explore the visual communication, history, and impact of clothing both on the stage and in everyday life in addition to gaining the skills and techniques needed to create their own clothing. Skills involved in this course include research, collage, sketching, digital sketching,  figure drawing, pattern reading, sewing (machine and hand), painting, and craft. 

Two Term Course
No Prerequisite Required.
Open to grade levels 9,10,11,12

Foundations of Design/Tech Theater

In this introductory course, students will begin the year using design projects and games, practical activities and scene work to develop storytelling skills. Students will learn about the design and production aspects of theatre and specific script analysis tools. Practical hands-on stagecraft is taught in the various theaters and theater-related spaces such as the scene shop and control booth. This course meets with the Foundations of Theater class, and it is meant to give students an overview of the major components of theater including acting, technical theater, public speaking, and script analysis. The aim of the course is to prepare students to implement and perform in the Ten-Minute Playfest which is a public production at the end of the spring term.

Two Term Course
This course is a recommended course for students entering the Upper School Theater Program.
Open to Grade Levels: 9, 10

Design & Tech Studio (BVR-X)

Design & Tech Studio is a course for students interested in Technical Theater and/or Theatrical Design. Students will have the opportunity to design their own experience through a combination of projects and workshops, allowing them to learn and utilize design and production tools as well as carpentry, scenic painting, props, lighting, and sound. Students will explore how theater artists use these tools for creative problem solving and to communicate with audience members. The successful student would gain an understanding of shop and theater safe working practices, basic construction skills, knowledge of lighting and sound instrumentation and rigging, as well as how communication, planning and collaboration are central to the health of a theater production. This course can be taken more than once.

Three Term Course
No Prerequisites
Open to Grade Levels: 10,11,12

Advanced Design & Tech

Advanced Design & Tech is a one-term, process-to-production course designed to prepare students for 2 public performances at Beaver.  The course begins by focusing on script analysis and design, and then students work as theatre technicians and designers to bring the play to fruition with the Advanced Theater Acting class. Technical theater roles encompass areas such as stage management, set, light, and sound design as well as technical direction and engineering. Students entering this class should be highly motivated and interested in an intense and exciting experience that requires a great deal of commitment. Recent productions include Durango and The Wooden Heart.

One Term Course: Winter Term 
Prerequisites: Design & Tech Studio or permission of the instructor.
Open to Grade Levels: 11 and 12


Acting

Foundations of Theater

In this introductory course, students will begin the year working on developing the actor’s process through warm-up exercises, rehearsal techniques and games, improvisation and scene work. Students will learn about specific script analysis tools and the design and production aspects of theater. Practical hands-on stagecraft is taught in the various theaters and theater-related spaces such as the scene shop and control booth. This course meets with the Foundations of Design/Tech Theater class, and it is meant to give students an overview of the major components of theater including acting, technical theater, public speaking, and script analysis.  The aim of the course is to prepare students to implement and perform in the Ten-Minute Playfest which is a public production at the end of the spring term. 

Two Term Course
This course is a prerequisite for students entering the Upper School Theater Program.
Open to Grade Levels: 9, 10

Intermediate Acting

Intermediate Acting continues the actor’s process through warm-up exercises, rehearsal techniques and games, improvisation, and scene work. Students learn to discover their inner resources and use them to inform their acting work. Students’ work will focus on actions and objectives, sense memory, status, subtext, and character analysis and creation. Individual and group exercises culminate in scene work from comic and dramatic plays.

Two Term Course
Prerequisite: Foundations of Theater or permission of instructor 
Open to Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12

Scene Study

Scene Study continues to support the actor’s process through warm-up exercises, rehearsal techniques, and games; but the focus is on applying techniques to scene work from scripted plays. While studying each play, students dig into the material by researching the time period, playwrights, and other important aspects of dramaturgy that place the play in the historical and cultural context of the time it was written in. We then bridge that context with the current world we live in. Also, through group discussion, the class studies the dramatic structure of each play by identifying the protagonist, climax, and other important elements that create the structure of each play. In Term I, students explore different characters while collaborating closely with other students as actors. After further training in scene work and directing, students can also choose to both direct scenes and act during Term 2. They also continue to analyze dramatic scenes from multiple perspectives. Authors studied may include Lorraine Hansberry, Arthur Miller, Oscar Wilde, and John Patrick Shanley. 

Two Term Course
Prerequisite: Intermediate Acting or permission of instructor. 
Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12

Advanced Theater

Advanced Theater is a one-term, process-to-production course designed to prepare students for two public performances at Beaver. The course begins by focusing on script analysis and character development and then students engage in the rehearsal process to bring the play to fruition with the Advanced Design & Tech class. Acting roles are open to seniors who have completed all prerequisites. Students entering this class should be highly motivated and interested in an intense and exciting experience that requires a great deal of commitment. Recent productions include Stop Kiss, The Heidi Chronicles, The Shape of Things, Durango, The Wooden Heart, and She Kills Monsters.

One Term Course: Winter Term 
Prerequisites: Acting: Scene Study or permission of the instructor.
Open to Grade Levels: 12

The Actors' Showcase

This workshop is designed for the enthusiastic actor developing his/her craft. It will focus on audition material for college and theater opportunities beyond Beaver. The course will give students an opportunity to prepare audition monologues as well as explore dramatic structure and topical themes through contemporary scene work. This course is for both the dedicated and independent drama student and students that wish to explore drama for the first time. This course will culminate in a showcase in the Black Box at the end of the term.

One Term Course: Fall Term 
No Prerequisites.
Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12 

The Drama Workshop

This one-term spring workshop is designed for the actor developing his/her craft. This course is for both the dedicated drama student and students that wish to explore theater for the first time. It will focus on exploring each student’s areas of interest and curiosity. Projects may include scene study with an emphasis on contemporary theater, college monologue preparation, directing, improvisation, musical theater scenes, stand-up comedy, devised work, and other forms of performance art.

One Term Course: Spring Term
No Prerequisite Required.
Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12


Choral Music

A Cappella Foundations

A Cappella Foundations will introduce students to the fundamentals of a cappella singing, including vocal technique, music literacy, and artistic expression. They will also cultivate a working knowledge of fundamental music theory and explore the wider cultural context of the repertoire they study. Throughout the course, students will learn how to listen for tuning and ensemble blend during rehearsal. The aim of the course is to develop confident musicians and prepare for a public concert at the end of the term. Weekly individual voice lessons are not required but are available on campus to students for an additional fee. Students who are on financial aid at Beaver have the same percentage of aid applied to their private music lessons.

One Term Course
Prerequisite: No prerequisite
Open to Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12

B-Side A Cappella

B-Side A Cappella builds on and further develops the skills learned from A Cappella Foundations while introducing a cappella vocal arranging and improvisation. Students will continue to develop their vocal technique and musicianship while exploring the wider cultural context of the repertoire they study. Throughout the course, they will learn how to work independently in smaller groups and will be given leadership opportunities in weekly rehearsals. The aim of the course is to prepare students to rehearse and perform a cappella vocal music independently and to perform in one public concert each term. This course can be taken more than once. Weekly individual voice lessons are not required but are available on campus to students for an additional fee. Students who are on financial aid at Beaver have the same percentage of aid applied to their private music lessons.

Two Term Course.  Can be taken for 1 Term only if in conjunction with A Cappella Foundations.
Prerequisite: Any Upper School choral ensemble or permission of the instructor.
Open to Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12

Select Singers (Honors)

Select Singers is an all-year course for experienced singers which aims to advance vocal technique, ensemble skills, and individual musicianship through study and performance of a wide variety of choral repertoire. Students will work in a variety of smaller groups within the ensemble in both sight-reading exercises and sectional rehearsals. Students should be highly motivated and committed to learning music at an accelerated pace and be prepared to sing for public concerts in smaller ensembles. Select Singers will prepare a varied program of repertoire for concerts at the end of each term. This course can be taken more than once. Weekly individual voice lessons are not required but are available on campus to students for an additional fee. Students who are on financial aid at Beaver have the same percentage of aid applied to their private music lessons.

Three Term Course
Prerequisite: Audition
Open to Grade levels: 10,11,12


Instrumental Music

Beatmaking and Electronic Music

This course is for students who are interested in creating electronic music and is open to both beginners and those with experience in music production. Through a series of independent projects, students will utilize these tools to create their own beats and express their own artistic vision.  In addition to creating their own music, students will gain an understanding of the origins and cultural impact of pivotal electronic music throughout the term, with particular emphasis placed on hip-hop and house music.  The class will cover various facets of digital music, focusing on recording, editing, mixing music in professional audio apps, and the science and technology behind electronic music production.  Students will also have opportunities to share, discuss, and analyze electronic music that they choose themselves. No music experience is necessary.

One Term Course
No prerequisite
Open to Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12

Beginning Guitar/Piano

Have you always wanted to learn how to play the guitar or piano? Did you teach yourself how to play a few chords, but want to take the next step?  This practical, non-performance-based course is designed for students with little to no previous guitar/piano experience.  After choosing to focus on either piano or guitar, essential skills are taught in a fun, supportive setting that allows students to develop at their own pace. The idea is to get you playing right away. By the end of the course, you will be able to play simple popular pieces, including songs that you choose yourself.  This course can be taken more than once.

One Term Course
No prerequisite
Open to Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12

Ikonoclastic

Ikonoclastic is an ensemble for students who identify as female or non-binary and is open to all instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass, and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass, percussion). This performing arts course strives to build a strong foundation for the student musician and to expand skills for returning students. Students will study and play a wide range of repertoire with a focus on building technical skills while exploring the cultural and historical context of the repertoire. This course utilizes components from the classical music traditions as well as contemporary styles such as jazz, blues, and pop/rock as vehicles to develop students’ technique and creative processes. Class material will integrate music theory, instrumental technique, rehearsal/performance skills, and improvisation skills.  The ensemble will perform in formal mandatory concerts throughout the year. Students should be capable of playing their instrument independently with at least one full year of private lessons and/or ensemble experience. Students who are new to Beaver will be contacted by a faculty member prior to the beginning of the school year to ensure proper ensemble placement. Weekly individual instrumental lessons are not required but are available on campus to students for an additional fee. Students who are on financial aid at Beaver have the same percentage of aid applied to private lessons.

Three Term Course
Prerequisite: One year experience with private lessons and/or ensemble experience.
Open to Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12

Instrumental Ensemble I

Instrumental Ensemble is open to all instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass, percussion). This performing arts course strives to build a strong foundation for the student musician. Students will study and play a wide range of repertoire with a focus on building technical skills while exploring the cultural and historical context of the repertoire. This course utilizes components from the classical music traditions as well as contemporary styles such as jazz and blues as vehicles to develop students’ technique and creative processes. Class material will integrate music theory, instrumental technique, rehearsal/performance skills, and improvisation skills. The ensemble will perform in formal mandatory concerts throughout the year. Students should be capable of playing their instrument independently with at least one full year of private lessons and/or ensemble experience. Students who are new to Beaver will be contacted by a faculty member prior to the beginning of the school year to ensure proper ensemble placement. Weekly individual instrumental lessons are not required, but are available on campus to students for an additional fee. Students who are on financial aid at Beaver have the same percentage of aid applied to private lessons.

Two Term Course
Prerequisite: One year experience with private lessons and/or ensemble experience.
Open to Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12

Instrumental Ensemble II

The Instrumental Ensemble II course builds on and further develops the skills introduced in Instrumental Ensemble I. This ensemble is open to all instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass, and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass, percussion). Students will study and play a wide range of repertoire with a focus on building technical skills while exploring the cultural and historical context of the repertoire. This course utilizes components from the classical music traditions as well as contemporary styles such as jazz and blues as vehicles to develop students’ technique and creative processes. Class material will integrate music theory, instrumental technique, rehearsal/performance skills, and improvisation skills. The ensemble will perform in formal mandatory concerts throughout the year. Weekly individual instrumental lessons are not required but are available on campus to students for an additional fee. Students who are on financial aid at Beaver have the same percentage of aid applied to private lessons.

Two Term Course
Prerequisite: Instrumental Ensemble I, Ikonoclastic or placement audition
Open to Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12

Chroma

Chroma is an ensemble that offers the advanced instrumentalist an in-depth study of large ensemble works across a wide range of repertoire. This ensemble is open to all instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass, and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass, percussion). Students will study and play a wide range of intermediate and advanced repertoire with a focus on building technical skills while exploring the cultural and historical context of the repertoire. This course utilizes custom arrangements, taking components from the classical music tradition as well as contemporary styles such as pop and jazz as vehicles to develop students’ technique and creative processes. Class material will integrate music theory, instrumental technique, and rehearsal/performance skills. The ensemble will perform in formal mandatory concerts throughout the year. Weekly individual instrumental lessons are not required but are available on campus to students for an additional fee. Students who are on financial aid at Beaver have the same percentage of aid applied to private lessons.

Two Term Course
Prerequisite: Instrumental Ensemble II, Ikonoclastic or placement audition.
Open to Grade Levels: 11, 12

Jazz Combo

This course offers the advanced instrumentalist an in-depth study of jazz performance. This ensemble is open to all instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass, and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass, percussion). While playing a range of jazz repertoire, students will apply theory and learn strategies for interpreting and soloing over standard jazz chord changes. They will develop skills with swing phrasing, articulation, sight-reading, and idiomatic ensemble traditions. Rhythm section instrumentalists (piano, guitar, bass, and drums) will learn how to independently develop a range of instrument-specific parts for standard jazz repertoire. Students will build jazz vocabulary and develop their own voices as improvisers. The ensemble will perform their work in mandatory concerts throughout the year. Weekly individual instrumental lessons are not required but are available on campus to students for an additional fee. Students who are on financial aid at Beaver have the same percentage of aid applied to private lessons. 

Two Term Course
Prerequisite: Instrumental Ensemble II, Ikonoclastic or placement audition.
Open to Grade Levels: 11,12

Cuban Jazz Ensemble (BVR-X)

In this course, students will specialize in and learn a variety of Afro-Cuban Jazz Standards. They will explore Cuban culture and history to gain a greater understanding of the evolution of Cuban music and its relationship and impact on North American jazz. An element of this course is a trip that will allow students to immerse themselves in another culture, and work with outside musicians to hone their music skills while making cross-cultural and historical connections. Auditions are open for the following instruments: Bass, Drums, Percussion, Guitar, Piano, Strings, Brass, and Woodwinds. This ensemble performs three formal concerts and at some additional school forums. Weekly individual instrumental lessons are not required but are available on campus to students for an additional fee. Students who are on financial aid at Beaver have the same percentage of aid applied to private lessons.

Three Term Class – G Block
Prerequisite: Audition
Open to grade levels: 11, 12