May 2, 2023
The excitement was buzzing as students, faculty, staff, and parents gathered together to celebrate the fine arts through the New Works Festival hosted in April. The New Works Festival was a thrilling and dynamic week-long event that celebrated the creativity and innovation of our student artists, and our Fine Arts department. The festival provided a platform for artists to share their creativity and talent.
Developed by our Fine Arts Team including, Mr. Escobar, Music Subject Expert Teacher, Mr. Mullens, Performing Arts Subject Expert Teacher, and Mr. Narmita, Visual Arts Subject Expert Teacher, the New Works Festival showcased original pieces of art, short plays, and musical compositions.
“The New Works Festival gave students a chance to create their own work and use their own voice in the work they do,” said Mr. Mullens, Performing Arts Subject Expert Teacher. “This festival provided our Mountaineers the opportunity and outlet for creative and critical thinking skills.”
Music Subject Expert Teacher, Mr. Escobar
“This festival provided an excellent opportunity for students of all grades and experience levels to showcase their talents,” shared Music Subject Expert Teacher, Mr. Escobar.
Mr. Escobar held auditions for students to play a piece they loved and were comfortable with in a solo setting. This format allowed students to learn what it is like to audition and rely solely on themselves and their confidence to perform. Mr. Escobar had more than 50 students audition to participate in the festival. From these auditions 18 students were selected to perform either their audition piece or a new piece of music.
In preparation for the festival, Mr. Escobar met once with each student for individual rehearsals. Students were encouraged to practice at home for their performance as well. Each night during interludes we heard from multiple pianists, vocalists, and more!
Mr. Escobar said, “The New Works Festival was an important representation of our Fine Arts Department because we made history! During our inaugural year we came together as a department to showcase the amazing things are students are capable of and it was a huge success. Students shared that when it was all said and done they were proud of themselves and their peers performances, while parents shared they enjoyed all aspects of each evening.”
Performance Arts, Subject Expert Teacher, Mr. Mullens
Students in Grades 2 – 4, were provided script frames, with the order in which characters spoke however the lines for each character were left blank. Students worked together in groups to use their imagination to fill in the blanks and build a cohesive script, all the while developing their characters.
In Grades 5 – 7, students had a blank slate. Students collaborated together in groups to develop a short story from scratch including identifying a location, time period, characters, lines, story themes, and more. They focused on character development and were allotted a time of five to ten minutes for each short play.
Students worked on stage craft after school alongside their parents, and grandparents, which created a wonderful atmosphere and memorable community moments. The New Works Festival also included a well-organized Stage Crew who ensured a seamless transition between plays, musical performances, and art gallery presentations each night of the festival.
“Students developed their collaboration skills by working in pairs and groups and these interpersonal skills are invaluable in the world today,” said Mr. Mullens, “Giving students the opportunity to stand in front of an entire audience teaches students how to communicate their original ideas in an effective way, which is a critical skill to develop.”
Visual Arts Subject Expert, Teacher Mr. Narmita
Students from Mr. Narmita’s Grades 6 – 7 elective Visual Arts class prepared weeks in advance to prepare original art pieces that correlated with dramatic performances each evening. During this preparation period, students first had to understand the stories being told on a basic level. They then collaborated as a class in a round table discussion to brainstorm a variety of ways visuals could be created to connect with each story. From there each individual student had the artistic freedom to create a visual using the medium and materials of their choosing.
“I wanted to give creative freedom to the students in this process to empower them to make informed artistic decisions and follow through with those choices,” said Visual Arts Subject Expert Teacher, Mr. Narmita. “While this festival was extremely collaborative in nature, students ultimately had autonomy in the creation of their project, which allowed them to trust themselves and make the art classroom their home. From this experience, students have a greater understanding of interdisciplinary subjects and how things can partner together.”
The New Works Festival was an outstanding celebration of the Fine Arts and brought together our school community in a truly memorable way.
Fine Arts Subject Expert Teachers BASIS Bellevue
“How collaborative, wonderful, hardworking and how dedicated as a group,” Mr. Mullens expressed. “It was spectacular to put our minds together and create a space for the students.”
Students are already looking forward to next year’s festival discussing performance ideas with our Fine Arts Subject Expert Teachers!
BASIS Independent Bellevue, a private school, opened with Grades 2 – 7 to start and will add a grade level each school year as we expand to a full middle and high school (Grades 5 – 12).