Expressing Ourselves

Take a deep dive into what makes the arts excel here

What an Incredible Year so Far

With the addition of the Hastings Center, even as the School works toward enhancing its focus on science, technology, math, science, and engineering, the arts remain as important as ever. 

Look no further than the skillful drawings, paintings, and photographs adorning our hallways.

The School is so good at the arts—in all of its forms— that it's sometimes easy to take for granted just how much our community excels on this front. 

At the risk of sounding effusive, for such a small community, averaging just over 30 students per grade, the Creative Arts Department deserves tremendous credit for fostering such rich talent. Whether students are on stage, creating a piece of art, or building gorgeous sets, they know how to express themselves creativity—and effectively. 

But even by objective standards such praise rings true. Greenline, the Upper School choir, recently won its fourth consecutive first place title at the Heritage Festival in New York—while also earning the highest score in School history.

We've almost lost track of how many art awards student have won this year, in no small part thanks to the tireless work our art teachers Brent Ridge and Kathryn Lee. 

Under the direction of Creative Arts Department Chair Bill Jacob, Upper School performances this year took our breathe away. We can't begin to imagine the hours of hard work after school and on weekends. 

At the annual Brimmer Academy Awards, set for May 30, student actors and actresses will be justly recognized for superior work.

"The artistic-theatrical season is not yet over, so I’m superstitious about discussing its success just yet," Jacob said. "That said, I’m very pleased with how well the year has progressed. The two fall plays came off very well and were both well attended, as was The Addams Family. The visual arts team has pulled in another outstanding collection of awards and outside recognition for our visual artists. Greeline also had an incredibly successful tour."

Last week, the Creative Arts Diploma Program also put on a wonderful CAParet, showcasing an array of artistic talent.

It bears repeating that the sheer level of artistic talent here doesn't just magically appear. Students deserve all of the credit in the world, but so do the teachers. 

To help make that point, in this edition of Amplify, we highlight just a few of the successes of the Creative Arts Department (so far) this year.

Actors and Actresses Light Up the Stage

In the fall, audiences were transported to seeing just how far the rabbit hole goes with the Upper School fall production of Alice in Wonderland.

Students performed the version adapted by Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus, first showcased by the American Repertory Theatre in 1947, based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

“Lewis Carroll’s bizarre take on the world is just as fresh now as it ever was,” said Creative Arts Department Chair Bill Jacob, who also directed the show. “This is a bizarre, dark and unsettling comedy that’s vastly different than the Disney Alice so many grew up on.”

The story centers on a young girl, Alice, who finds herself in the mysterious world of adults, a world of curious creatures and thwarted mis-adventures. On her journey, she encounters talking animals and singing flowers, murderous playing cards, abusive royalty, and dancing lobsters among others.

For the first time, students were also able to use the new lighting system, installed in the theatre this summer.

“Using state-of-the-art LED technology, the new lights offer a whole new array of colorful effects available to Dick Williams, the school’s long time lighting designer,” Jacob said.

In the winter, if you didn’t see The Addams Family, you missed one of the best high school musicals to grace the School’s stage—or any high school stage, for that matter.

From advanced choreography, an incredible set design, and tremendous acting and singing, the cast and crew pulled out all of the stops. Members of the newsroom still can’t stop humming the tune to “Full Disclosure,” one of our favorite numbers.

Everybody involved in the production deserves tremendous praise, and we cannot begin to fathom the time and energy put into this production. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication, which more than paid off. This one will be difficult to top.

Directed by Bill Jacob, with musical direction by Frank Van Atta and choreography by Ingrid Oslund, The Addams Family will go definitely go down in the history books.

Below, check out some photographs of the musical by David Barron

Cara Rittner '19 plays the cattapiller. Photo by David Barron.

Cara Rittner '19 plays the cattapiller. Photo by David Barron.

Bella Lepore '18 plays Alice. Photo by David Barron.

Bella Lepore '18 plays Alice. Photo by David Barron.

Sadie Goodman '18 plays the Red Queen. Photo by David Barron.

Sadie Goodman '18 plays the Red Queen. Photo by David Barron.

Elias Kazin '20 plays Humpty Dumpty. Photo by David Barron.

Elias Kazin '20 plays Humpty Dumpty. Photo by David Barron.

New Choreographer Turns Up the Heat

To prepare for the Upper School Production of The Addams Family, Ingrid Oslund changed up musical dance numbers with her unique flair and infectious energy.

In January, Gator reporter Sadie Goodman '18 sat with with Oslund for an interview.

Q: Could you tell me about your dance background?

A: I have been dancing since I was about four. I started off in musicals and had a strong ballet focus. I also competed in ballroom in middle and high school, with a focus in tango. In high school, I became more interested in contemporary and hip-hop movement, which is how my aesthetic as a choreographer is inspired today.

Q: How did you become interested in dance?

A: I was a high energy child and dance was a way to focus that energy into something productive. I was performing professionally from a very young age, and these skills were necessary to continue working. I also lived and breathed old movie musicals and taped ballet performances. I always wanted to strive for that level of perfection.

Q: Where have you studied dance?

A: I am originally from Minneapolis, MN, which is the nation’s capitol of children’s theater. The majority of my dance education was connected there to companies such as Stages Company, Children’s Theater Company and Main Street School of Performing Arts, where I attended high school.

Q: What has been your experience so far?

A: Mr. Jacob and Mr. Van Atta have been so welcoming, and I have had a fantastic time. It’s been awesome to come into a super collaborative environment. The students have also been great. I am asking them to really push themselves and do difficult things. Everyone has been surprisingly game, and I am very grateful for that.

Q: What are your goals for the choreography in the musical?

A: Something very cool about this piece is that it pays homage to so many of the classic musical theater styles that have shaped me as a dancer. It has hints from Bob Fosse, Michael Bennett, and classic vaudvillian flair. It also has an extended tango sequence, which I want to ensure is precise and accurate. 

At the same time, I want to infuse my own style into the piece, such as the use of contemporary movement and a touch of hip-hop. I want the audience to walk away satisfied, excited and surprised by something unexpected.

A version of this story by Sadie Goodman '18 first appeared on The Gator Jan. 30.

Greenline Rockets to New Heights

Under the direction of Frank Van Atta, Greenline continued to win accolades.

In mid-April, the Upper School Choir was invited to perform at the Heritage Festival, a national competition that attracts schools from around the nation.

Greenline placed first in its division, receiving a gold ranking.

In addition, Sonya Ewing '20 Zoe Kaplan '21 also received individual accolades for their work.

“When I won I was shocked, and it made me feel like I didn’t just succeed as a choir member, but also as a good person," said Kaplan, who was recognized for her talent as well as her solid character and leadership.

According to Van Atta, this year brought with it new challenges and experiences for Greenline. This marks the choir director's fifth year here, with many students having only sung with him.

"Greenline received our first-ever invitation from a collegiate ensemble, Mount Holyoke, to perform at their homecoming concert," Van Atta said. "We were treated to clinics by Dr. Stephanie Council (Mount Holyoke) and Dr. Eugene Rodgers (University of Michigan) during our fall tour. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Brimmer community, we were able to participate in a spring tour and with one of the largest groups ever, won first place with a gold ranking. Of note was the highest mean score in Brimmer history, a 94 out of 100."

April 7, Van Atta and the Creative Arts Department also hosted this year's Gospel Fest, which welcomed several independents schools in the area, as well as Newton North.

Below, check out some photographs of the event by Sophie Lapat '18.

Greenline performs at the Heritage Festival. Photo courtesy of Frank Van Atta.

Greenline performs at the Heritage Festival. Photo courtesy of Frank Van Atta.

(L-R) Dylan Rigol '18, Emma Hastings '19, Ben Ernest '19, and Kathryn Maynard '18 show off the gold plaque.

(L-R) Dylan Rigol '18, Emma Hastings '19, Ben Ernest '19, and Kathryn Maynard '18 show off the gold plaque.

Zoe Kaplan '22 receives her award at the Heritage Festival. Photo courtesy of Frank Van Atta.

Zoe Kaplan '22 receives her award at the Heritage Festival. Photo courtesy of Frank Van Atta.

Greenline performs at the holiday concert.

Greenline performs at the holiday concert.

Students Win Art Accolades

January also kicked off an impressive season for the art department, with students winning 23 medals in various categories for the 2018 Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards.

In the spring, art teachers Brent Ridge and Kathryn Lee worked overtime to host the Small Independent School Art League (SISAL) for a juried exhibition.

More than 600 pieces went on display from 16 participating schools, with first, second, third, and honorable mention awards designated in each art category, in addition to best-in-show trophy.

I am so proud of how our school was able to host this incredible event, using our new space as a large gallery of dynamic artwork. You could see our students discussing their favorites of the show and comparing the many forms of visual expression. Our artists here at Brimmer are diligent in their approach to visual expression and I am pleased to see their hard work rewarded with recognition. They are a pleasure to work with and it is an honor to be a part of their creative process.
Art Teacher Brent Ridge

Brimmer students didn't disappoint by taking home 11 ribbons.

Hosting this year’s SISAL event was a true honor. Seeing the impressive quality of work exhibited throughout our school was inspiring, eye-catching, and exciting. Not to mention how proud we are of our own award winners. Our Brimmer artists continue to shine for their creative abilities and outstanding talents. 
Director of Visual Arts Kathryn Lee

Recently, the work of 11 students was also featured in The Marble Collection, a juried, literary arts magazine released once a year.

Photographs of the work appear below.