Arts at Crossroads

At Crossroads, visual arts, creative dance and movement, drama and music are presented to enable students to explore and develop an understanding of various artistic principles.

Elementary School Arts

List of 4 items.

  • Creative Dance and Movement

    In kindergarten and first grade, students experience our creative dance program.

    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. In groups, pairs and alone, the students explore movement concepts (e.g. level, speed, pathway, direction, beat, rhythm) and increase the range of their movement vocabulary over the course of the year. They also increase their ability to vary, control and direct the force and energy (or quality) of their movements. They use improvisation to discover new and original movement possibilities based on specific tasks (e.g. create five types of circular movement), work with peers to solve dance problems (e.g. design three shapes—high, medium, and low), and are able to create short movement sequences with a beginning, middle and end. Special dance projects connect to learning in other subjects. The children respond in movement to a variety of different stimuli, including music, books, pictures, rhymes, fabrics, and props. They frequently assess what they have learned through group discussions and journaling about their experiences watching and performing movement.
  • Drama

    In second through fifth grade, students experience our drama program.

    "We are most fully human when we play."

    The above statement reflects the single most important philosophy in drama class. Children are encouraged to play, sometimes based on stories or themes narrated or suggested by the teacher, sometimes based on their own ideas, experiences, or whims. Although acting exercises and concepts are used extensively, the program is as much about life skills as it is about theater. While students are learning how to use their "selves"(their voices, bodies, minds, and hearts) to express emotions, ideas, and stories, 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 (being heard, sharing focus, playing actions, performing mime and movement, and understanding story structure) are assimilated and developed through scene work and gently taught through exercises that become more complex as children move through the grade levels.

    The overall goal of the Crossroads drama program is to teach children to feel comfortable in the public self-expression of their feelings and ideas. Children learn to communicate through voice and movement, to take creative risks, and to appreciate the many varied forms of drama that appear in their lives—plays, movies, parades, pageants, or classroom debates.
  • Music

    The purpose of the music program is to awaken and develop every child’s inherent musicality. The Orff-Schulwerk process, designed for all children, not just the talented few, is the foundation for the curriculum. We encourage and nurture full participation in the musical experience through a combination of aural, visual, and kinesthetic learning modes. The musical elements of rhythm, texture, form, expression, and color are experienced through exploration of a variety of media: song, speech, movement, dance, games, and instruments. These experiences are carefully sequenced to provide step-by-step development in both skill and understanding.

    The music classroom provides a valuable forum for self-expression while helping to develop a sense of ensemble and structure. The special Orff melody instruments include wooden xylophones and metal glockenspiels that offer good sound immediately. Played together as an ensemble, their use helps children become sensitive listeners and considerate participants. Topics introduced in the classroom provide inspiration for music activities. Some of these activities are collaborative efforts with dance and drama.

    In kindergarten through second grade, musical elements are explored through singing activities, creative movement, body percussion, folk dancing, and playing pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments. All activities are designed to promote solid ensemble skills in the developing musician. Culminating activities, often in collaboration with other arts specialists, take place throughout the year.

    As each child’s intellectual and motor abilities increase, so does the level of sophistication of music class activities. In third through fifth grade, the soprano recorder becomes an integral part of the music class experience. Over the course of the year there are several opportunities for children to share their musical creations with an audience of parents, teachers, and peers.

    The Elementary School Chorus is composed of second through fifth grade children who enjoy singing. The Chorus performs at least twice annually at the Elementary School Friday Gatherings.

    Instrumental Music
    Instrumental music is an optional, complimentary component of the Elementary School Music Program. Beginning as early as first grade, students may take violin classes. By third grade, students may take wind instruments—clarinet, flute, saxophone, trombone, trumpet. Beginning, intermediate and advanced classes are held once a week during lunch or before school. An additional practice class is offered weekly to beginning and intermediate violinists and jazz options are offered during the after-school program, Hang Out.
  • Visual Arts

    Curriculum for the visual art program evolves from collaborations with specialists and homeroom teachers, the children's interests, techniques introduced by the art teacher, guest artist visits, and field trips. The program enables children to explore various media (mixed media, paint, clay, pencil, fabric, wire, found materials, printmaking, and photography, among others) to develop an understanding of art concepts (shape, form, color, design, texture, shading) and to meet artistic challenges with confidence. The curriculum is also intended to enable children to find new ways of communication and self-expression and to ultimately develop their own forms of artistic expression. Art work done with the visual arts specialists differs from art that is done in the regular classroom because the specialist focuses on process and exploration of media. The work of contemporary and historical artists provides a springboard for inspiration.

Middle School

List of 5 items.

  • Overview

    Students gain exposure to varied and diverse artistic perspectives and techniques in both the visual and performing arts. Sixth and seventh grade students move through compulsory, multi-week rotations. Eighth graders choose their arts classes, which are held on a semester or year long basis. All classes meet twice a week for 55 minutes per class. Thus, students spend nearly four hours a week (total) in arts classes.
  • Middle School Players

    Middle School Players is an after school play production group that produces two plays each school year. The Players provides a greater level of theatrical engagement (beyond the required Drama courses) for students with a strong interest in theater. Auditions are held for each production. No experience is necessary to audition, but eligibility is predicated on a firm commitment to honor the rehearsal schedule and the willingness to “serve the story” of the play. If the number of students auditioning goes above 25-27, not everyone can be cast. Students not cast, are given an opportunity to participate in at least one of the following areas: rehearsal assistant, technical theater, running crew, or house management. Students can apply for involvement in any of these areas regardless of whether or not they audition.

    Plays are cast according to who is best suited for each role, according to the Director. Grade level and experience are factored in only when there are multiple actors equally “right’ for a role. For example: if there is a sixth grader and an eighth grader who the Director feels would be equally appropriate for a particular part, priority is given to the eighth grader. However, if the sixth grader is singularly “right” for the part, he or she will be cast. We ask the adults in our community (director, administrators, faculty, staff, and parents) to join together in nurturing our young actors through the casting process and in helping them to incorporate the deep teachings of that process, whatever the outcome may be.

    Students will not be allowed to participate in a play and a Crossroads sport team at the same time. The rehearsal schedule and sports practice schedule are in conflict. But since there are three seasons of sports and two plays, most students will be able to participate in a production and sports if they plan accordingly.
  • Sixth Grade

    Sixth grade students follow three arts rotations consisting of two classes per rotation during the year for a total of six art classes. They have a trimester each of dance and drama, studio art and sculpture, and world music. The sixth grade arts rotation encourages self-confidence and active participation in the fine and performing arts. It lays the foundation for further study in the seventh and eighth grade arts.

    Sixth Grade Arts Rotations:
    Dance, Drama, Sculpture, Studio Art, World Music, Chorus

    Additional Options Arts Classes:
    Chorus, Wind Ensemble, Popular Rhythms, Rhythm Workshop, Jazz Ensemble, Poster Making, Beads and Stones, Cartooning, Strings

  • Seventh Grade

    Seventh grade students follow four arts rotations during the year for a total of seven arts classes. Seventh grade art builds on the concepts and skills learned in the sixth grade and anticipates further study in theater, dance, music, and visual art. As students move through the arts rotation, they recognize common conceptual threads that connect all of the arts.

    They are introduced to the notion that artists talk about the quality of line in drawing, in music, in dance; that artists explore concepts of space and timing in painting, drama, dance, and music; and that our fundamental human perceptions inspire the work of all artists in all media. Seventh grade classes are: Understanding Music, Listening to Music, Studio Art, Ceramics, Drama, Dance, and Arts and Culture.

    Seventh Grade Arts Rotations:
    Ceramics, Studio Art ,Understanding Music, Music Listening, Dance, Drama, Art and Culture

    Additional Options Arts Classes:
    Chorus, Wind Ensemble, Popular Rhythms, Rhythm Workshop, Jazz Ensemble, Poster Making, Beads and Stones, Cartooning, Strings

  • Eighth Grade

    Eighth grade arts courses are selected by students based on their experiences with the sixth and seventh grade arts rotations. Students make informed choices based on their curiosity and desire to do advanced work in a particular discipline. Each semester, students choose two art electives. Classes last the entire semester, allowing students to concentrate and to develop skills that enable them to produce or perform at an accomplished level. Classes are designed to encourage further exploration and skill development.

    Eighth Grade Arts Electives:
    Jazz Dance, Studio Art, Ceramics, Graphic Arts, Video Production, Technical Theater, Drama, Film Studies, Photography, Yearbook, Multimedia Art, Jazz Collective, Screenwriting, L.A. Art and Architecture

Upper School

List of 5 items.

  • Dance

    With a faculty of professional dancers and choreographers, the dance program guides students towards developing motor efficiency, movement awareness, and technical proficiency. Students explore and build their capacity for creative expression through movement and broaden their knowledge of dance heritage, history, and culture. The program prepares and motivates those with talent and interest toward university dance majors and/or career directions in dance and related areas, including professional performance and education.

    Dance classes are available to all Upper School students, though enrollment in intermediate and advanced levels requires permission of the instructor. Class size is limited to ensure individual attention. Students are expected to dress in proper dance attire, including appropriate footwear. As it is a physical discipline and a performing art, credit for a dance class may be used for either physical education (one year) or arts (two years). Levels offered each semester will depend upon enrollment, and every class listed may not be offered each semester.

    The curriculum includes a sequential programming of courses (Dance 1-5) with a focus on Jazz Dance, and incorporates elements of classical ballet and modern dance. The annual Student Choreography Showcase provides students with the opportunity to present their own original dances and collaborate with student choreographers. In the Spring Dance Concert, students perform works created by the dance faculty, special guests and student choreographers. All dance students are required to participate in Choreography Showcase and Spring Dance Concert. The Crossroads Dance Company (admittance by audition only) allows further opportunity for performance and the development of choreographic skills.
  • Drama

    Crossroads Drama Program is sequentially designed both for students who wish to explore a possible interest in Drama, and also for those whose primary interest is theater. The 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 terms and are given specific tools for the creation of subtext and effective use of the imagination. Students begin in 9th and 10th grade with Theater 1 and 2, concentrating on acting technique exercises and scene work. In 11th and 12th grade students may audition for the two-year Conservatory program with course work in playwriting, Shakespeare, directing, improvisation, musical theater, voice and movement. We offer technical theater classes as well, where students learn all backstage aspects of building and mounting a production. Six “mainstage” productions are mounted in the Upper School including a culminating Senior Performance. There are also opportunities to perform in scene nights and improvisation performances.
  • Film

    Film represents one of our culture’s most powerful art forms, bringing together many different disciplines (painting, photography, sculpture, dance, music, and anthropology). Because visual images dominate our culture, the film program emphasizes learning how to read them and how to express these readings lucidly in analytic essays.
    The four film courses in the Upper School give students the historical, aesthetic, and critical background necessary for any college film program, while developing creative and analytic writing skills at the same time. Film Studies introduces students to the unique formal properties governing the practice and understanding of this artistic medium.

    Writing emphasizes screenplays for short films, both original and adaptations. In Critical Studies in Film, students confront the ideas underlying contemporary film theory. After reading critical articles on the films they have viewed, students write analytic essays that incorporate secondary sources.

    The History of American Film explores American silent and sound film through a study of genres and directors in order to understand the aesthetic, psychological, and ideological constructions of Hollywood. International Film: Modernism and Postmodernism provides a thorough and provocative investigation of contemporary International film and filmmakers from sophisticated theoretical viewpoints. Writing forms a key component of the Film Program. Writing assignments help students to find their own voices in their essays and to develop the ability to incorporate other critical voices into their own discourse.
  • Music

    Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute (EMMI) Music Major requirements: Students become members of the EMMI program by audition. It is presumed that all students enrolled in EMMI are taking private music lessons outside of the school. Performance is a vital part of a musician's development, and the curricula reflects this awareness. Courses which stress performance education are Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Music. Monthly solo recitals offer the opportunity for solo experience. The aforementioned classes and monthly recitals are requirements for all EMMI students. Students in grades 9 through 12 are eligible to become members of EMMI.

    All EMMI Majors are also required to take one of the following music theory courses each year in the Upper School. Any theory class is open to non-Music Majors who demonstrate prerequisite background and receive consent of the instructor. Every level of music theory is divided into three parts: written exercises, analysis, history, and (most importantly) ear training.
  • Visual Arts

    The Visual Arts Department is devoted to the recognition and development of each student's creative potential. We see Art as a means of exploring, discovering, and expressing one's unique and valuable vision of the world. Our Visual Arts courses do not merely emphasize skills; they ask students to examine meaning and intention in art making.

Upcoming Arts Events

The following Art events are open to the public. Contact our Arts Administrator, Janeen Jackson, if you have a question about any of the events.

List of 2 events.

  • Sep

    EMMI Solo Recital

    Roth Hall
  • Sep

    Adult Chorus Rehearsal

    Roth Hall
View All Events
Middle and Upper School: 21st Street Campus | 1714 21st St., Santa Monica, CA 90404 | Phone: (310) 829-7391
Elementary School: Norton Campus | 1715 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404 | Phone: (310) 828-1196
Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences provides a unique K-12 program built on a progressive, developmental model of education.