The Ashley Hall Performing Arts program provides students with a curriculum that nurtures talent from a young age. Through intense study in vocal, dance, and theatrical programs, students learn an appreciation of performing arts and gain the ability and knowledge needed to continue performance arts study.
Vocal music at Ashley Hall begins at Kindergarten and finishes with the oldest established ensemble at Ashley Hall, the Red Choir. Young vocal students receive musical training encompassing a wide variety of genres and cultures. There are opportunities to experiment with different percussion instruments in the Orff approach, to undertake intricate rhythmic studies associated with African and Mexican music traditions, learning about many classic composers, and listening to or singing their compositions.
Drama at Ashley Hall, offered to students in grades six through twelve, begins with an introduction to the fundamentals of theater and culminates with each student’s conducting a thorough study and performance of a prominent American playwright. Through acting exercises, students learn reliable vocal control, increase body awareness and flexibility and improve concentration, attention and listening skills. Productions of Shakespeare and contemporary plays, as well as the rich humanities curriculum allow for a well-rounded and thorough introduction to theatrical performing arts.
One of Ashley Hall’s most sacred traditions is the Christmas Play. First presented in 1924 under the direction of school founder, Mary Vardrine McBee, the Christmas Play is a beautiful and ancient retelling of the Nativity Cycle of the medieval Mystery Plays of Chester, England. Ashley Hall students of all ages —100 in total—are represented in this pageant portraying the roles of young angels, dancing jesters, shepherds, the Holy Family and even Magi complete with beards. The exquisite sounds of the Red Choir provides musical interludes throughout the performance.
Dance at Ashley Hall promotes body awareness, coordination, core strength, and flexibility. The students strive to find a balance between hard work developing technique and the more playful activity of creating expressive movement. Students will experience movement, develop and nurture respect for theater decorum, and gain appreciation of performance art.
The Ashley Hall Visual Arts program provides every student with a firm foundation of artistic skills through a student-centered, sequential program of instruction that includes art production, history, and criticism.
All visual arts students, from pre-school through twelfth grade, will explore a wide range of art production, process, and media exploration through drawing and both two-dimensional and three-dimensional design. Activities are often selected to make an interdisciplinary connection with other subject areas.
Carolina Strings Academy and Applied Lessons
A signature component of the Ashley Hall arts program, Carolina Strings Academy participation and applied lessons are available to the Ashley Hall music student and students from the Charleston area.
Performing Artists in Residence
Ashley Hall’s Performing Artists in Residence Series offers students the unique opportunity to work side-by-side with some of the world’s leading musicians. Under the direction of renowned cellist, Edward Arron, this day-long residency culminates in a public performance held in the intimate setting of the Sottile-Thompson Recital Hall on campus.
In keeping with its strong literary arts legacy, Ashley Hall, alma mater of noted authors such as Madeleine L’Engle ’37, Josephine Humphreys ’63, Margaret Bradham Thornton ’77, Nancy Friday ’51 and Alexandra Braid Ripley ’51, is proud to offer its Writers Series to the greater Charleston community. Novelists, poets and non-fiction writers share insights on the art and practice of writing.
Distinguished guests to the Series in addition to our alumnae Ms. Humphreys and Ms. Thornton have been Thomas Lux, Jed Perl, Natasha Trethewey.