Visual and Performing Arts
Our foundress, Cornelia Connelly, reminded us throughout her teachings that the fine arts are a vital part of a Holy Child education, stressing the art of observation in acquiring knowledge–of the world, and of ourselves. Since our students face rigorous academic schedules, we encourage them to get truly engaged in their fine arts courses, to take full advantage of the opportunity to escape and expand their individuality in a completely different way. Not only do we believe in educating the whole child, which includes instilling that passion for the arts, we also inspire them to explore a whole host of “big ideas,” to expand their horizons, their minds, and their creativity along the way.
Our fine arts instruction is deeply rooted in the hands-on exploration of each discipline. We have created a climate that nurtures and celebrates each student’s individual diversity and talent. We treat Visual Arts and Performing Arts with equal care, planting the seeds for creative expression in a wide selection of course offerings. Our goal is to enhance the students’ lifelong appreciation of the arts, bring joy to their process, and to challenge their ability to grow in personal expression, and overall achievement.
If a student’s passion is performing, she might spread those acting wings at a Folger Shakespeare Theatre workshop or in Drama Club; if her outlet is painting or drawing, you will likely find her one of our two light-filled studios working on her acrylic still-life or pencil self-portrait to submit to the Congressional Art Exhibit jury. She might like getting her hands around a ceramic sculpture, or get up to her elbows in creative digital photography. Our visual artists will soon vie for the coveted High School seminar at the National Gallery of Art. Our singers have been selected to Catholic University master classes and All-State Choirs. (At least one is marking her mark recording in Nashville.) Musicians bringing passions for a range of instruments create changing instrumental ensembles, with drums or guitars even a stand-up bass. Dancers get their moves on preparing for the WAISDEA spring dance festival. At Holy Child, dance straddles athletics and fine arts, challenging both the body and the mind for its creative expression.
One of the highlights is a month-long event in the spring, kicked off with an “Evening of the Arts,” a gallery opening and joyful celebration of visual art, drama, dance, and musical talents. Parents and fellow students especially enjoyed this April’s successful night, which gave a small taste of the full concerts and recitals elsewhere in the schedule.
In order to help our students discover their areas of passion within the program, all ninth grade students explore four different disciplines in the freshman rotation: Art, Music, Speech/Public Speaking, and Theatre. While they are only required two years of arts instruction, highly-motivated students are encouraged to deepen their passion through upper-level courses. This allows students to challenge their problem-solving skills and to grow their knowledge of themselves through creative expression. Chorus and audition-based vocal groups display singing talents; our instrumental ensemble features the work of a changing array of musical instruments. Students perform musically, dramatically, and play sports, finding their true selves in both disciplines.
The visual arts program begins with a strong foundation in formal and traditional art skills blended with important art history lessons. Students experience different media to discover expression in a variety of forms, to include drawing, painting, sculpture and ceramics. On the musical side, a Middle School chorus and chamber orchestra performs with the Upper School in a handful of events through the year, and the Middle School Musical–with all students included–is a highlight of the fall. In the Middle School, there are additional opportunities to join instrumental ensembles that meet after school on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
At every level, Holy Child’s visual arts program encourages students to explore, discover, celebrate, and share their unique style. Students learn fundamental skills blended with creative expression to bring personal meaning to their work. Students are encouraged to take risks with their art, deepen their problem-solving skills, and develop a mature approach to their art-making process.
Music is a passion for many students when they arrive at Holy Child, and here, there is a place for singers and instrumentalists of all levels, with opportunities for play from Middle through Upper School. All Holy Child performing groups are an integral part of school assemblies, liturgies, the winter production, and special events. Students also have the opportunity to study piano and guitar, but other instruments are woven into the ensembles. Students develop essential performance skills-professionalism, self-discipline, and teamwork–as they entertain the community throughout the year.
Middle School instrumentalists have the opportunity to play in an informal band, which practices during breaks during the week. Once they enter 9th grade, or for some more talented 8th graders, students may try out for the Upper School Instrumental Ensemble.
Singers find performance opportunities in several musical groups:
The Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Our preeminent singing group, open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Auditions are held for the choir, which range from six to twelve people, depending on the year. They often sing á capella at events.
Upper School Chorus
All Upper School students are welcome to the chorus, which rehearses twice a week, and performs at our larger concerts.
In the classroom, students focus on reading music and piano proficiency. Students will also be introduced to other instruments, including guitar, violin, and drums. We introduce GarageBand to allow the students to learn how to record, compose and remix songs.
Theatre allows students to break out of their shells and explore different ways of expressing themselves. Theater provides training in several areas: public speaking, creative problem-solving, self-discipline, collaboration and cooperation, taking initiative, adaptability and flexibility, leadership, and self-confidence. For students who are more comfortable working behind the scenes, there are many opportunities to become a team member backstage, working on costumes, set design, props, lighting, and other technical aspects of production.
Middle School Musical
The Middle School puts on an annual theatrical production (this year in November); all students participate, choosing whether to be onstage or work behind the scenes. They learn the material in their music elective class.
Upper School Musical
Each winter, fifty to sixty girls from grades nine through twelve, along with boys from area schools such as The Heights, Gonzaga, Churchill, and Georgetown Prep, collaborate for the annual Winter Musical. Our most recent boffo successes have been Beauty and the Beast, Fame, CATS, and Cinderella.
As with all of our disciplines, our dance department’s goal is to expose the students to movement, creativity, and expressivity in a variety of outlets. With roots in both our athletic and our arts disciplines (we call our dance troupes teams, and they operate out of the athletics department in collaboration with the theater directors), we recognize the intersection of movement and artistry. Dance connects the mind and body, deepening the student’s awareness of creativity as a part of their everyday life.
All students are encouraged to explore their own movement range and artistry, regardless of prior experience. We have had world-class Irish dancers (see news item on this year’s competition) and newly discovered hip-hop talents—many have gone on to perform in college.
Students have the opportunity to study dance in the Middle School and the Upper School; Middle School dancers rehearse during their elective period three times a week, while Upper School teams gather during their free periods two-three times a week, as well as after-school rehearsals before recitals and other events, especially the Winter Musical. We have found many students interested in choreography, and they often contribute greatly to our performances. Through the study of multiple styles of dance–ballet, modern, hip hop, jazz and Irish–all students find inspiration and excitement though movement.
As in our other disciplines, students are afforded several performance opportunities throughout the year: the school musical, WAISDEA events, our annual Spring Dance Concert, the Evening of the Arts.