Visual and Performing Arts
The West Orange Art Program offers a variety of visual and aesthetic art courses designed for high school students who wish to study art for personal enrichment, as well as for students considering an art-related career.
All students must complete a one-semester foundation course in studio art (Art 1A or Three-Dimensional Design 1), before proceeding to advanced studies. After the first semester, students may select specialized studio courses from two sequences, Art or Three-Dimensional Design. All visual arts courses stress the development of perceptual skills, drawing and composition.
Within the Art Sequence, students are offered a choice of ten courses in Studio Art. Studio Art includes advanced drawing, design, painting, graphics and sculpture (Art 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3, 4). Juniors and seniors, with permission, may enroll in Honors Art 4 or Advanced Placement Studio Art to produce portfolios designed to earn up to six advanced placement college credits.
The Three-Dimensional Design Sequence includes four one-semester courses offering progressive studies in ceramics, fiber, jewelry, printmaking and sculpture (Three-Dimensional Design 1, 2, 3, 4,). Three-Dimensional Design 5 is offered as a full year elective for Juniors and Seniors.
The West Orange music program offers a wide variety of musical experiences designed to meet the needs of all students. In addition to credit-bearing courses in vocal music, music literature, instrumental music, piano lab and music theory, high school students may elect to participate in a number of co-curricular music activities, such as Marching Band, Winter Color Guard, Indoor Percussion and Jazz Band I and II. The annual school musical production offers special opportunities for vocalists; "Pit Orchestra" offers the same for instrumentalists. As student interests expand, the music department seeks to meet their needs with appropriate clubs and activities.
Performing music courses include band and orchestral studies for student instrumentalists (who must have studied an instrument previously), and a variety of choral music classes for beginning singers to advanced soloists. In addition, the high school offers Music Theory and Advanced Placement Music Theory for music students wishing to qualify for college credits through the Advanced Placement Testing Program of the College Board. “Music in Our World” is a high-interest, hands-on course that provides musical understanding for personal pleasure. Honors Wind Ensemble, Honors Chamber Orchestra and Honors Chamber Choir (weighted) courses are available to advanced students seeking enhanced recital experiences and performance chamber ensembles.
The theater department is based on the philosophy that acting is a human experience. Students will rediscover what it means to be open, honest and connected with their intuition. Acting is also a technical skill that needs to be taught, trained and refined.
The sequence of study is orchestrated to enable students to acquire a basic knowledge of the history of the theater and explore acting through skills-based activities, monologues, and introduction to scene study which are addressed in the Theater Arts foundation level course. Daily activities include improvisation, ensemble building theatre exercises, physical and vocal warm-ups and other methods that train students to develop confidence on stage and in real-life situations. Students will learn the vocabulary of the theatre, character and scene analysis and have opportunities to examine the roles that take place behind-the-scenes. Having successfully completed Theatre One, serious students can continue their theatrical development in Acting Principles. As the name suggests, this course will focus on the principles of acting as designed and taught by a variety of master directors and actors, included but not limited to Konstantin Stanislavski, Sanford Meisner, Uta Hagan, Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, George Morrison, Mike Nichols, and Paul Sills. Students will intensify their study of script analysis, voice and speech production, breath support, sense memory, emotional memory, concentration, the movement for the actor, actions and objectives, basic stage and rehearsal terms, stretching exercises, and fundamental theater etiquette. Students will also begin to learn the basics of directing by assisting the instructor as assistant directors for the scenes that are prepared and performed. Students will be assigned a mix of contemporary and classical scenes for scene study, and in the spring semester, students will be introduced to acting for the camera. The theater program culminates with Advanced Theater in which students apply the skills they learned in Theatre One and Acting Principles to the full production of a play in the fall semester. Advanced Theatre students will be guided to present an in-school performance of a play that is selected by the students and the instructor. Students will fulfill all the roles of play production including Director, Assistant Director, Producer, Stage Manager, Costumer, Hair and Make-Up Artists, Set Designer, Scenic Painter, Lighting and Sound Designers, Props Master, and Actors. In the spring semester, students will apply the acting for camera skills that were introduced in Acting Principles to the creation of a 4-minute short film that will be submitted for competition in the Ten Day Film Challenge. Students will learn and practice the basics of film production to help them prepare for the Film Challenge that requires students to write, direct, shoot and edit a film on school grounds in 10 consecutive school days.
The West Orange High School Dance Program offers access to high-quality dance education informed by New Jersey State, National Art Standards and ongoing professional development in the field of dance education. Through the study of dance, students will develop as performers, choreographers, researchers, historians, and critics. Students will collaborate with one another frequently in the dance classroom, working closely with their peers to construct their own knowledge of how dance is relevant to their lives.
By offering a beginning, intermediate, and advanced level course that can be taken in progression throughout the course of a student’s time in high school. Students who are interested in pursuing dance as a career will have the advantage of developing their choreographic abilities in preparation for a college conservatory setting. Those who do not wish to pursue dance but do have an interest in engaging with it in other ways will have the opportunity to develop technical skills, wellness practices, and an aesthetic awareness that will allow for further appreciation of dance as an engaged audience member.