Idyllwild Arts Academy: Where arts and academics go hand in hand
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Idyllwild Arts Academy: Where arts and academics go hand in hand

Idyllwild Arts Academy: Where arts and academics go hand in hand

What do a vascular surgeon with offices in four cities (Idyllwild Arts Academy Class of 1989), an award-winning environmental scientist-activist (Class of ‘92), a prolific inventor (Class of ‘94), and a Silicon Valley high-tech executive (Class of ‘03) have in common? Like many successful professional artists, all four graduated from Idyllwild Arts Academy, the unique residential high school set upon 205 forested acres in California’s breathtaking San Jacinto Mountains.

Every year, the Academy attracts students from dozens of different countries. They are drawn by the school’s unyielding dedication to the study of dance, filmmaking, visual arts, fashion design, and other arts. Idyllwild Arts students acquire the skills and confidence to succeed in any field through the innovative collaboration between the Academy’s academic teachers and its arts faculty, which includes working artists in many disciplines.

Idyllwild Arts education is unique in being both well-rounded and focused. Besides a challenging college-prep academic curriculum for Grades 9 through 12 and postgraduates, the Academy offers intensive, pre-professional arts training. Young people passionate about Dance, Film & Digital Media, Visual Arts, Fashion Design, Music, Theatre, Creative Writing, or Interdisciplinary Arts will leave the Academy as budding masters of their craft who also know how to apply their creativity in areas that seem unconnected to the arts.

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Each arts department is extraordinary. Consider the Dance Department’s requirement of an Anatomy and Kinesiology course for all of its first-year majors. Idyllwild Arts Dance students receive training from master teachers in ballet, modern, jazz, and even tap, as well as many performance opportunities. But all of that training and performing can be wasted on a young dancer whose career is shortened by injury. Taking that into account, the Dance faculty teaches about the body’s system of movement in order to prevent injury.

The healthy movement habits acquired by Idyllwild Arts Dance students enable them to move efficiently, making them in demand by the world’s top conservatories and professional programs. Those who become teachers pass these habits on to their own pupils. And Dance majors develop an even deeper understanding of healthy, efficient movement by teaching their peers their own choreography, featured in the annual Student Choreography Showcase. This teaching of safe movement models the entire Academy’s devotion to a healthy future for its students.

The Film & Digital Media Department’s eye to the future focuses on job growth in an industry where technological advance is key. For example, the department now offers a Virtual Reality Filmmaking course as part of its effort to train students for virtual reality, augmented reality, and gaming. This is the future of entertainment. Idyllwild Arts students will be ready for it.

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The introduction of Virtual Reality Filmmaking, followed by the launch in 2019 of a Gaming course, will position Idyllwild Arts as the only high school in the United States to offer such an advanced curriculum.

And because Gaming encompasses many art forms––visual arts, graphic design, music scoring, voice performance, dance (motion control), and dramatic and tech writing––the course is an interdisciplinary opportunity for students who face a future that will place increasingly high value on interdisciplinary cooperation.

Film & Digital Media majors work with state-of-the art equipment, including eight Black Magic cameras with high quality prime lenses, new Mac Pros, Visual Effects for post production, Pro Tools for sound, and DaVinci for color correction. And they can complete the Avid Media Composer Certification program, which enables students to go directly to work in the industry.

Visual Arts majors get a head-start on their future from a faculty who collaborate to make sure that their students’ mastery of technique is no more profound than their reflection on the meaning of art. Working artists teach mastery of the needed technical skills in drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, and other media. But the faculty also regards the Artist’s Statement as essential to every Visual Arts major’s Senior Show. The Artist’s Statement is the student’s declaration of independence: proof of having gone beyond mere excellence of technique to establish an original vision and style.

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Senior Shows climax with a Critique in front of fellow students and the Visual Arts faculty, giving students a final opportunity to think about the intentions of their art.

As for Fashion Design, many students bring to the department a love of fashion, but only basic skills. However, the faculty offers intensive tutoring in sewing, as well as a careful study of fashion history and other, more advanced classes. Soon, students are showing off their creations in runway shows on campus and in the nearby town of Idyllwild. Fashion Design students now take part in an annual off-campus “upcycling” fashion show that turns discarded clothes into eye-catching designs modeled by townspeople.

The upcycling show exemplifies the many chances given to Idyllwild Arts students to reach beyond the traditional classroom. Frequent exposure to real-world experience is a crucial part of Idyllwild Arts Academy’s one-of-a-kind education.

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