VISUAL & PERFORMING ARTS Course Catalog

2 semesters/ 10 credits required

Unless otherwise noted, all academic courses in this department meet both CSU and UC entrance requirements.

The VAPA cohort includes courses in 2-D and 3-D visual arts, dance, drama and music. Through these learning experiences a foundation is created for students to build skills, make connections and develop creative problem-solving through artistic expression. Students explore the arts as relevant beyond entertainment. They experience artistic thinking as a means to ignite change, to develop cultural awareness, and to serve their communities on a local, national and global scale.

Performing Arts - Dance

NOTE: Advanced Dance: Topics & Techniques will be offered every other year, alternating with Advanced Dance: Connection & Choreography.

Performing Arts - Music

Performing Arts - Theater

Visual Arts

#2550 DANCE: TECHNIQUES AND AESTHETICS
5 credits - Grade(s) all 
Prerequisite: None

This course is designed to provide an introductory view of dance as an art form. Our main focus is to introduce and establish various dance techniques, investigate the history of dance, condition the body to maximize strength, and analyze the various aesthetics of dance. Dance is integrated through video, literature, and live performance. The culmination of our work is to perform both a jazz and a ballet piece in our semester showcase.

Please note: Taking both Dance Techniques and Dance Composition in the same year will fulfill the VAPA graduation requirement. One semester of dance will also fulfill 5 credits (of the 10 required) of the PE graduation requirements. 

#2555 DANCE: COMPOSITION AND PERFORMANCE
5 credits - Grade(s) all   
Prerequisite: Survey of Dance Techniques and Aesthetics or instructor approval.

The goal of this course is to provide a knowledge base, practical skill, and performance experience in dance. In this class, we study contemporary dance and learn the basics of improvisation. The second half of the semester focuses on the technique, structure, and creation of expressive choreography for performance. This course culminates in the students choreographing and performing their own work in a dance showcase. This course is pending UC approval.

Please note: Taking both Dance Techniques and Dance Composition in the same year will fulfill the VAPA graduation requirement. One semester of dance will also fulfill 5 credits (of the 10 required) of the PE graduation requirements. 

#2556 ADVANCED DANCE: TOPICS & TECHNIQUES
5 credits - Grade(s) all   
Prerequisite: Dance: Techniques and Aesthetics OR submit a portfolio
CSU/UC approved
 

This course is designed for students who want to deepen their understanding and appreciation of dance. Using the Common Core State Standards as a guide, the students will develop an advanced understanding of the cultural traditions of dance, techniques in various styles of dance, and choreography.  They will continue their study of dance history, improve skills in dance, increase vocabulary, present a research paper, and choreograph work for their peers to be presented in the larger community.  Students will hone their dance skills by closely studying advanced ballet, jazz, and contemporary technique, all while broadening their understanding of dance and its social and artistic impact. 

#2557 ADVANCED DANCE: CONNECTION & CHOREOGRAPHY
5 credits - Grade(s) all   
Prerequisite: Dance: Techniques and Aesthetics OR submit a portfolio
CSU/UC approved
 

This course is designed for students who want to deepen their understanding and appreciation of dance through critical analysis with a social justice lens. Students will continue their study of dance history, improve skills in dance, increase vocabulary, and choreograph work for their peers to be presented in the larger community. 

#6435 ADVANCED CHOIR 
10 credits - Grade(s) All    
Prerequisite: Audition 
Fee: Uniform - $50

This advanced choir, proudly named Fleur du Soleil, is an auditioned treble ensemble that explores and performs choral repertoire from a vast range of eras, styles, genres, cultures and languages; Renaissance to Contemporary, Classical to A Cappella. Focusing on leadership, vocal empowerment, and building community through music, Advanced Choir functions as the on and off-campus musical ambassador of Notre Dame. All students improve their vocal technique, musicianship, music literacy, and performance skills through a fun and rigorous rehearsal process. Performances include formal concerts, festivals, school events and more. Outside of the school day, events are required as a part of this ensemble. There are opportunities to travel too! Auditions are conducted in the spring semester of the previous school year unless arranged otherwise by the director. There is a one time course fee for a uniform.

#6430 INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN MUSICAL CULTURE (Music 1A)
5 credits - Grade(s) All
Prerequisite: None

The music of America is as diverse, deep, rollicking, and original as the United States itself. During this course, students will learn the fundamentals of music theory, structure, and reading through the overview of American music history, from pre-colonial to the present day. Students will activate their personal understanding of music and how it functions in their lives, and make connections with the legacy and influential moments of American music.

#6432 INTRODUCTION TO MUSICAL COMPOSITION (Music 1B)
5 credits - Grade(s) All
Prerequisite: Music 1A or 1+ years of musical instrument/voice study

This course serves as an introduction to music composition through the examination of written music, music technology, and how music has functioned in a specific Focus Era of United States history. Students may enroll in this course on a performance, history, or technology track, but every student will be expected to learn aspects of all three areas. Students will achieve competency in sight reading and will use their understanding of music theory to create their own compositions. Students will create collaboratively as well as individually and will present their work in an end-of-year showcase.

#6435 STRING ENSEMBLE 
10 credits - Grade(s) All    
Prerequisite: Audition / Instructor Permission        

This auditioned string ensemble explores and performs string orchestra repertoire from a vast range of eras, styles, genres, and cultures; Baroque to Contemporary, Classical to Cinema. This ensemble focuses on leadership, ensemble/collaboration, and building community through music. String Ensemble serves students with a background in violin, viola, cello, string bass, and piano with a place to continue growing their skills and develop greater musical maturity. All students will improve their technique, musicianship, music literacy, and performance skills through a fun and rigorous rehearsal process. Performances include formal concerts, festivals, school events and more. Outside of the school day events will be required as a part of this ensemble. There will be opportunities to travel too! Auditions will be conducted in the spring semester of the previous school year, unless arranged otherwise by the director.

#6315 SYMPHONIC BAND 
10 credits - Grade(s) All    
Prerequisite: Woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument experience and audition/instructor permission 

Symphonic Band is a performance-based ensemble for individuals who have previous experience playing woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. The ensemble rehearses and performs a variety of music while working to refine each member’s individual skills. All students improve their technique, musicianship, music literacy, and performance skills through a fun and rigorous rehearsal process. Performances include formal concerts, festivals, school events and more. Outside of the school day events are required as a part of this ensemble. There are opportunities to travel too! Auditions are conducted in the spring semester of the previous school year, unless arranged otherwise by the director. This course requires each student to provide their own instrument.  

#6413 DRAMA 1A: EVOLUTION OF PERFORMANCE
5 credits - Grade(s) All
Prerequisite: None

This course is an interactive exploration of the history of dramatic art. Students will explore the different genres of theater to discover the elements that make theater so adaptable and so enduring through reading, writing, designing, and acting. This overview of various theater traditions will help students gain respect for the art and craft of theater and performance. Critical analysis and discussion-based classes help students deconstruct their perception of what theater is and reconstruct that perception with an understanding of how they can be active participants in a theater experience.

#6415 DRAMA 1B: FROM PAGE TO STAGE
5 credits - Grade(s) All
Prerequisite: Drama 1A: Evolution of Performance

By learning new skills in script analysis, students will explore all the aspects of the process of making a script come to life. As a design team, students will search for clues that help them design sets, costumes, lights, sounds, and props. As actors, students will learn how to evaluate character objectives and tactics and make strong acting choices. As technicians, students will build set elements, costumes, and properties for their production. As critics, students will draw conclusions about the effectiveness of productions on the basis of intent, structure, and quality of work. This course provides an inside look at theater production, from the first rehearsal to opening night.

#6412 DRAMA  2: ADVANCED ACTING
5 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11, 12
Prerequisite: Drama 1A and Drama 1B or three department productions
CSU/UC approved

This course provides an exciting plunge into the world of acting,as students focus on language, mood, and use of space in performance. Students make acting choices based on script analysis, character research, reflection, and revision. Students end the class with an improved ability to ring a piece of text to life. Pending UC Approval.

#6426 DRAMA 3: DIRECTING FOR THE STAGE
5 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11, 12
Prerequisite: Drama 2

This course provides critical and theoretical opportunities for the student of theater. Students focus on production elements including directing skills, playwriting, and stage management as well as acting technique using the students enrolled in Drama 2 (Advanced Acting) as the acting ensemble. This course integrates theater skills for the career-oriented student featuring an extensive amount of work in play/script analysis, the evolution of theatrical art, as well as the study of advanced acting techniques, character analysis, and auditioning methods. Students attend drama seminars, direct and produce several one act plays, and consider multiple genres of plays through the eyes of the critical director. Rehearsals for class projects and productions may extend beyond the class, and students are expected to work outside of class time on a semi-regular basis.

#6310 TECHNICAL THEATER
10 credits - Grade(s) 9, 10, 11, 12
CSU/UC approved

This course develops knowledge of and experience in all the technical (nonperformance) aspects of theatrical production. Special emphasis is placed on the elements of theatrical design (scenery, lighting, properties, sound, costumes, and hair and make-up), design analysis, stage management, and production management. Additionally, students gain hands-on experience in all aspects of technical theater. Students build or crew two productions.

#6045 INTRODUCTION TO CERAMICS       
10 credits - Grade(s) All
Prerequisite: None
Fee: $100

This course is an introduction to the nature of clay, including the three basic hand-building techniques: pinch, coil and slab; and wheel thrown methods.  Various glaze, surface enrichment techniques, and firing processes are studied.  The course provides students with an opportunity to create decorative, functional and sculptural ceramic ware. Lectures and ceramic forms from both ancient and contemporary cultures are studied to enrich the students’ knowledge of ceramics. There will be field trips to local galleries, museums and ceramic studios. This is a yearlong course.

#2155 INTRODUCTION TO GRAPHIC DESIGN  
10 credits - Grade(s) All
Prerequisite: None
Fee: $100

Graphic Design has a major influence on our daily lives and plays a leading role in our consumerist society. In the simplest terms, graphic design is the relationship between image, text, and symbols. However, it has dramatically changed how we communicate in the modern age. Students collaboratively learn and apply basic design and art elements in this year-long course. In addition, they are encouraged to share their own opinions, critical thoughts, observations, and creative style, all within a positive learning community. Students also learn essential Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop skills to execute an idea from concept to completed design. Field trips to local galleries inspire classroom discussion and students’ own works of art.

#2160 ADVANCED GRAPHIC DESIGN 
5 credits - Grade(s) All
Prerequisite: Introduction to Graphic Design
Fee: $50

This course does not meet UC approval.

This one semester course is designed for students who look to gain a deeper experiential understanding and appreciation into the ever-expanding language of graphic design. This class will explore all sub-types of design: static (print), motion (animation), and interactive (Web) by introducing professional-grade programs such as Adobe After Effects, Dimensions, Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Projects will allow students to explore personal design interests/ influences as well as focus on small group creative collaborations. Students will also be given the opportunity to develop a diverse digital portfolio.

#6025 INTRODUCTION TO PHOTOGRAPHY    
10 credits - Grade(s) All 
Prerequisite: none 
Fee: $100

This year-long course teaches the hands-on process of traditional 35mm black & and white film photography as visual expression. Students learn how to apply thoughtful craftsmanship during the first semester when using a 35mm film camera and the darkroom printing process. They expand and refine these newly acquired skills during the second semester and develop their artistic voice with projects that challenge their critical thinking and creativity equally. Students are expected to take photos primarily outside of class. However, we will go on local photoshoot field trips and visit local art galleries.

ND will loan students a film camera for the course duration but are encouraged to use their own, if possible.

Note: At the time of the course, if safety protocol restricts the use of our darkroom, this course will be all digital. No digital cameras will be provided, but students can use their smartphones or, if possible, a DSLR camera.

#6036  INTRODUCTION TO VISUAL ARTS    
10 credits - Grade(s) All  
Prerequisite: None
Fee: $100

No prior experience is needed – all skill levels are welcome! Activities and projects are specifically designed to introduce the student to the elements and principles of design. Techniques covered include: use of line and value, light and shadow, shape and space, use of perspective (1 point and 2 point), composition, and portraiture. Students will explore a variety of mediums (pencil, charcoal, oil pastel, watercolor, acrylic paint, collage). There will be field trips to local galleries and museums, as well as whole class discussions and preparation of a portfolio. Students will develop their own artistic style and voice over the year. This is a yearlong course.

#6041 ADVANCED CERAMICS ~ CERAMICS II  
5 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11, 12 
Prerequisite: Introduction to Ceramics   
Fee: $50

Through this course, students will continue to expand their ceramics knowledge through an exploration of scale, function, form, and surface design. This semester-long class will further explore utilizing ceramics as a vehicle for personal expression expanding the student’s conceptual development, techniques, and understanding of materials. Focused on ceramic sculpture, students will investigate advanced handbuilding strategies as well as pottery wheel techniques. Handbuilding techniques will include learning how to use leather-hard slabs of clay to build modular forms that will articulate the student’s visual narrative. Pottery wheel techniques will introduce the wheel as a sculptural tool to throw multiple forms that will then be reassembled into functional ware. A variety of surface decorations will be covered including: underglaze image transfer, inlay, water etching, sgraffito, and slip trailing. Throughout the semester, students will study contemporary ceramics artists as well as ceramics art history to inform and connect this research to their own art making practice.  Students will be expected to record their research in their ceramics journal, write reflective essays, participate in class discussions, collaborate with peers, and observe proper ceramics studio etiquette.

#6010 ADVANCED CERAMICS ~ WHEEL THROWING
5 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11, 12
Prerequisites: Introduction to Ceramics
Fee: $50

From ancient techniques to contemporary practices, students will delve into the world of the potter’s wheel in this semester-long course. Through guided research, students will build upon their prior ceramics knowledge by using the pottery wheel as a tool to articulate their visual voice as well as expand their artist portfolio to include advanced level works that demonstrate mastery of technical skill and personal aesthetic.  Students will learn to throw complex wheel-thrown form such as a set of matching teacups, vases, lidded jars, and teapots. A variety of surface design techniques will be covered including: underglaze image transfer, inlay, water etching, wax resist, sgraffito, and slip trailing. Students will also have the opportunity to explore different clay bodies and continue to enrich the surface by layering mid-fire glazes. Throughout the semester, students will study contemporary ceramics artists as well as ceramics art history to inform and connect this research to their own art making practice. Students will be expected to record their research in their ceramics journal, write reflective essays, participate in course discussions, collaborate with peers, and observe proper ceramics studio etiquette.

#6210 ADVANCED PEN & PAINT
5 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11, 12 
Prerequisite: Introduction to Visual Arts 
Fee: $50

This semester course encourages the serious visual art student to refine and expand techniques in painting and drawing, and focuses on portfolio development. Topics include complex still life and observational studies, acrylic painting, exploration of 2D media and techniques to further develop the student artist’s skill, style and artistic voice. Each project will encourage critical thinking, problem solving, and aesthetic discussion. In addition, projects will focus on building strong compositional skills as well as development of original concepts. Field trips to local galleries will provide inspiration for the student’s own art making as well as in-class discussions.

#6030 ADVANCED PHOTOGRAPHY ~ DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
5 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11, 12   
Prerequisite: Introduction to Photography
Fee: $50

This semester-long course encourages creativity and curiosity through advanced photographic techniques. Students explore concepts, narratives, and perspectives unavailable to them in traditional black and white photography. They also learn basic Photoshop techniques to enhance their images. Final projects are reproduced in large and small format high-quality inkjet prints. At times students are required to complete written reflections, participate in group critiques, collaborate with peers, and complete final projects as a way to showcase their growth.

Note: Students will need to provide their own digital camera for this course. This can include smartphones, point & shoot, DSLR, or mirrorless cameras.

#6050 MIXED MEDIA 
5 credits - Grade(s) 10, 11, 12   
Prerequisite: None
Fee: $50
Does not meet CSU/UC requirement   

This semester course explores the theory and practice of combining painting and drawing with other artistic elements to provide students with a deep understanding of traditional and contemporary art forms. Students will also experiment with unconventional materials and techniques to create abstract sculptural works to enhance their level of critical thought and creativity. Projects may incorporate unusual surfaces, multiple medias, fragments of other artwork, or text.  This course introduces the student to critical discourse regarding the student’s artwork, art history and aesthetics.  Students may be expected to spend time outside of class gathering images to be used in their artwork.  Field trips to local galleries and museums will provide inspiration for students’ own works as well as in-class discussions.

#6060 VISUAL STORYTELLING
5 credits - Grade(s) All
Prerequisite: none
Fee: $50
Does not meet CSU/UC requirement

Note: This class will run every other school year, alternating with Advanced Graphic Design.

This one-semester course is for students interested in exploring the genre of creative visual storytelling, which is the marriage between the written word and graphical images with a story and audience in mind. This course will teach students basic story structure, script, character design, and panel layout for maximum emotional impact. In addition, students will be exposed to the works of leading contemporary graphic novelists for further appreciation and inspiration in their own creative process. At the end of the school year, everyone's work will be published in an anthology to highlight and celebrate their achievements!

#8566 INDEPENDENT STUDY - ART   
5 credits - Grade(s) 12   
Please refer to independent study page, here.