Avenues is devoted to cultivating creative, compassionate and innovative thinkers. An exceptional arts education is essential to this mission. Music, drawing, dance and drama are the oldest forms of creative expression and communicate the human experience directly across time, space, culture and condition. The arts, therefore, are one of the centerpieces of an Avenues education, and visual arts, music, theatre and dance learning programs will stimulate creative interpretation and curiosity across all subjects as a fundamental component of our integrated curriculum.
Avenues takes full advantage of its location in one of the most exciting art communities in the world. Our Chelsea neighborhood offers proximity to more than 100 galleries, five museums and ten theatres, allowing students to view, first-hand, an enormous variety of original art and performance within walking distance of the school building. Some of our faculty will be drawn from this pool of remarkable talent, while many more will provide guest lectures, workshops and, where possible, mentoring of students at each school level.
Certain kinds of learning can only be delivered by means of the arts. Demanding that one think beyond the given, the arts utilize and expand the imagination. Each art, with its own distinctive vocabulary, is a powerful means of delivering emotions and ideas. We aspire to produce a graduating class of inspired and inspiring young minds, fully prepared not only to participate in the increasingly international dialogue that underpins modern society, but also to lead it. The curiosity and creativity cultivated by an outstanding arts program is essential to achieving this goal.
At the elementary level, Avenues students are introduced to musical concepts such as steady beat, rhythm, melody, dynamics, tempo and movement. Students will begin to develop rudimentary musicianship skills through vocal, instrumental, movement and listening experiences. In Middle School both instrumentalists and vocal students participate in ensembles. Over the course of their study of music, students learn and develop a wide range of musical skills, including note and rhythm reading, musical vocabulary and ear training. In Upper School, composing and improvising provide students with insight into the form and structure of music and help them develop their creativity. Musical understanding is fundamental to the promotion of creativity and self-exploration and is a crucial vehicle for greater cultural appreciation.
At the elementary level, exploration through different media is key to the development of fine motor skills and aesthetic awareness. In Lower School, the elements of art are introduced (line, shape, form, color, pattern, texture and space), and students are exposed to a variety of art and artists. Class work in art includes art production, art history and art appreciation. Connections between visual arts and other disciplines are encouraged as students develop their appreciation and understanding of art. In the upper grades students continue to explore the elements of art with deeper emphasis on skills and techniques. New tools and materials such as photography and film are introduced, and students begin to explore the distinctions between the real and the abstract. From the Lower School music media lab to the Middle and Upper School art labs and studios, students will have access to all the facilities and technological tools necessary to explore and investigate to their fullest the communicative potential of different media and materials. Personal expression is encouraged in the observation and production of art. Students develop their critical abilities by reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their own work and the work of others, while they expand their cultural awareness through a cross-cultural study of art history.
The Chelsea Arts Initiative represents a collaboration between our own approach to education and the great artistic visionaries in our neighborhood. Through this combined effort, students will be inspired to explore the issues of our time through artistic expression. Local artists will serve as lecturers and, on occasion, mentors to art students in the Upper School. This initiative will enhance learning skills across disciplines for every Avenues student, at every school level, and will provide students with access to contemporary world art on a scale unusual in K-12 education.
Drama holds up a mirror to the world of human experience. Experiences in dramatic play begin in our Early Learning Center and continue through the Upper School. By working cooperatively with their peers, students will develop communication skills and sensitivity to others. Through active participation in the theater program, students will graduate with poise, self-confidence, empathy and a deep appreciation of hard work and the pursuit of excellence. From Lower School performances bringing stories to life, to Middle and Upper School explorations of more sophisticated literature and theatrical techniques in our Black Box Theatre, students will gain confidence and a deeper understanding of consequence and variety of perspective.
Experiences in participating in and responding to dance expand students’ movement vocabularies, enhance their listening and viewing skills, and enable them to begin thinking critically about dance as an art form. Through dance education, students also learn about cultural roots of various dance forms and how dance is expressive of cultural heritage, thus continuing to broaden their global perspective. The study of dance at Avenues will promote the development of strength and coordination while stimulating self-exploration and creative potential. Students who choose to further their dance education in the upper grades will continue movement exploration with the study of technique, body awareness and choreography.