Educational Programs

The Arts

Creative expression is an essential element of a Crossroads education as well as one of the School’s five founding commitments. You can find our fifth graders reciting Shakespeare, our Middle Schoolers throwing pottery, our Upper Schoolers performing at Carnegie Hall and breaking into spontaneous rap battles in the Alley. In our dance studios, recital space, theater, art classrooms and gallery, students find outlets for their ideas and emotions; develop communication skills; plan and implement interdisciplinary projects; and revel in the joy of creation.

Elementary School

Children learn through play. The Elementary School Arts programs builds upon children’s unlimited imaginations and channels their creative energies into dance, drama, music and visual arts. Students build a foundational understanding of the skills and tools used in various artistic disciplines and engage in constructive modes of creative expression.

List of 4 items.

  • Creative Dance and Movement

    The creative dance curriculum teaches students to understand and value their bodies in action; strengthens the connection between body and mind; and increases self-esteem, kinesthetic awareness and social skills. Students explore movement concepts—level, speed, beat and rhythm—and develop movement vocabulary, learning to vary, control and direct the force and energy of their movements. They use improvisation to discover new and original movement possibilities based on specific parameters; work with peers to solve dance problems; and create short movement sequences. Special dance projects connect to learning in other subjects.
  • Drama

    Drama is offered beginning in second grade. While students are learning how to use their "selves"—voices, bodies, minds and hearts—to express emotions, ideas and experiences, they are also learning about awareness, respect, trust, observation, specificity, perspective/point of view and how to communicate honestly, clearly and openly with each other. The skills of drama are integrated and developed through scene work and gently taught through exercises that become more complex as children move through the grade levels.
  • Music

    The foundation for the music curriculum is the Orff-Schulwerk process, designed for children of all skill levels. Lessons are carefully sequenced to provide step-by-step development in both skill and understanding. Chorus is open to second through fifth graders and performs at least twice annually at Friday Gatherings. Beginning in first grade, students may take violin, viola or cello classes. By third grade, students may take clarinet, flute, saxophone, trombone or trumpet. We also offer a band option to incorporate keyboard, bass and guitar in the after-school program. Practices are held both before and after school.
  • Visual Arts

    The visual arts program sparks the joy of creation while teaching children about art’s context in society, and how the study of art can enhance our understanding of the world. Students find inspiration by studying international art from the past and present; visiting museums and galleries; and learning from guest artists. Students build basic skills and techniques in clay work, painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture and collage. Instructors encourage interdisciplinary work; students collaborate with classroom teachers to develop projects inspired by their coursework in other classes that they can explore further through art.

Middle School

The Middle School offers students a path to excellence in their chosen artistic disciplines, as well as the opportunity to spark new passions and unearth hidden talents. Instructors create collaborative, supportive learning environments to cultivate imagination, craftsmanship, patience, love of process and self-esteem. Growth mindset and creative risk-taking are enthusiastically nurtured. Sixth and seventh-grade students move through compulsory, multi-week rotations. Eighth graders choose their arts classes, which are held on a trimester basis.

List of 4 items.

  • Dance

    The dance program provides all sixth and seventh graders an overview of jazz and contemporary dance technique. Students learn to choreograph and perform their own work while developing a sense of artistry in movement. Each trimester ends with an in-studio Dance Culmination, where peers and teachers are invited to watch a performance highlighting what was studied that term. Dancers of all levels are welcome to join the Middle School Dance Company, which rehearses during the Options Block. The Company focuses primarily on performance skills and the choreographic process. The Company performs at school events, including the annual Spring Dance Concert highlighting Middle and Upper School dance students.
  • Drama

    Required sixth- and seventh-grade Drama rotations teach acting technique through improvisation and theater games, with Honors options in scene or monologue work. Eighth-grade Drama options include Musical Theater, Acting Technique, Acting for Film, Auditioning & Public Speaking and Improvisation. Middle School Players is an after-school play production group open to all grade and experience levels. Two shows—typically literary adaptations—are produced each year. We pursue excellence in theater through extensive rehearsal processes that provide novice- to professional-level acting training, fostering self-esteem, a sense of community and an understanding of the role of artists in society.
  • Music

    Sixth graders take courses in Chorus and World Music, while seventh graders take Understanding Music and Listening to Music. The Middle School Chamber Orchestra gives string players an ensemble experience through a repertoire of classical and popular music. Several instrumental combos of varying ages and ability levels meet during the Options block to explore jazz and popular music styles, while The Overtones provides students an opportunity for choral and solo singing. Each music ensemble gives several concerts throughout the year, highlighting the progress made in the classroom while building performance experience and confidence.
  • Visual Arts

    Middle School students engage in four hours of visual arts instruction a week. Sixth-and seventh-grade classes focus on 2- and 3-dimensional art practices in ways that are both exploratory and foundational. Students are introduced to mediums and creative processes to build a personal connection to expressive form. This approach is broadened in the eighth grade, which offers students a wide variety of visual arts Options courses. Options include Ceramics and Studio Arts as well as 4-D practices such as Multimedia Arts and Graphic Design.

Upper School

The Upper School Arts offers exceptional programming in drama, music, filmmaking and visual arts for students at every level of skill and interest. Opportunities for advanced work include majors in drama, music and visual arts; a touring theater company; the renowned classical EMMI program; vocal and instrumental ensembles; and Crossroads Advanced Studies (CAS) courses in visual arts and filmmaking. Crossroads musical groups have been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall and in the Panama Jazz Festival, while individual students have been recognized with Music Center Spotlight Awards, LA Phil Composer Fellowships, YoungArts Awards and Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, among others.

List of 6 items.

  • Dance

    The Dance Department guides students toward developing artistry by building a technical foundation; adding dimension to performance/choreographic skills; broadening knowledge of dance history, heritage and culture; and creating mature dance artists with deep connections to the power of dance as a means of self-expression and a vehicle for communicating ideas, inspiration and perspective. The sequential programming of courses (Dance 1-5) has an integrated focus on jazz and contemporary dance, grounded in elements of classical ballet.
  • Drama

    The Drama curriculum is process-based and experiential. Students develop concentration, personal discipline and a respect for the art and the artist. They learn a common vocabulary of theatrical concepts and are given specific tools for the creation of subtext and effective use of the imagination. A touring musical production is open to ninth- and 10th-grade students during the school year. In 11th and 12th grade, students may audition for the two-year Conservatory program, offering coursework in acting, audition preparation, playwriting, Shakespeare, directing, improvisation, musical theater, production design, stage makeup, voice and movement.
  • EMMI

    The Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute (EMMI) is a rigorous, audition-based classical music conservatory within the Upper School. Students in this strings program study music theory, harmony, analysis, counterpoint and ear training at the conservatory/college level. Chamber orchestra classes meet twice a week and culminate in four annual concerts. Chamber music classes likewise meet twice a week and culminate in two concerts a year. Solo recitals are presented monthly. Click here to learn more.
  • Film

    Students have options in both filmmaking—delving into a broad range of disciplines such as directing, acting, screenwriting and cinematography—and film studies, which examines the art and history of cinematic storytelling. Guest speakers, including Crossroads alumni working in the film and television industry, share valuable artistic insights into the crafts of cinematography, directing, acting and screenwriting.
  • Music

    Students in the music program study the foundations of individual and ensemble musicianship through a study of contemporary and historically significant repertoire. The various ensembles maintain an active performance schedule throughout the year, affording numerous opportunities to gain valuable performance experience. Our many musical offerings are designed to accommodate students of a wide range of musical backgrounds and levels. Click here for an archive of music student performances.
  • Visual Arts

    The Visual Arts program recognizes and seeks to develop each student's creative potential. Arts classes offer students a means of exploring, discovering and expressing their unique and valuable visions of the world. Students can sculpt clay, experiment with oil paints, focus on the human form and exhibit/curate in the Sam Francis Gallery, housed in the Peter Boxenbaum Arts Education Centre.