Curriculum Detail

Explore Our Curriculum


Performing Arts


The Upper School music curriculum allows students the chance to further learn about the world of music from diverse historical, theoretical and performance perspectives. Exploring music from various thematic and social perspectives, this class explores global music practices and a wide variety of genres and time periods in New York City. Additional advanced classes in composition and history are offered as single-semester electives in Grades 11 and 12. Students interested in vocal or instrumental performance have the opportunity to join choral and orchestral ensembles and to take private instrumental lessons. Performance opportunities include the winter and spring concerts, orchestra concerts and instrumental musicales.

Semester Electives
Global Practices in Music, 9–12
Music in New York City, 9–12
The Complete Musician: Music Theory (Advanced), 9–12

Yearlong Electives
Glee Club, 9–12
Orchestra, 9–12
Instrumental Lessons, 9–12 (extracurricular)
Select Choir, 9–12 (extracurricular)


Upper School drama classes enable students to follow two paths of study: students who wish to explore drama through the rehearsal process and performances before an audience, and students who want to study the discipline but do not wish to perform publicly. Each of these groups will investigate theater as an event, in addition to considering the theater as a historical evolution of social, political and human psychological influences. Working theoretically and practically, students will investigate the elemental components of theatrical expression, the role of the actor, creative leadership in directing, playwriting and the evolution of drama from primitive ritualistic celebrations to what we now define as modern drama. Plays, written materials and the approach to all student engagement in drama exercises will be guided by consideration of global and cultural perspectives, expressive language, themes of the human experience and significance to the Spence community. Students in drama can expect to accomplish most of their work during class time, minimizing homework, with substantial peer review of their progress.

Semester Electives
Acting 101: Scene Study, 9–12
Advanced Performance Studies, 11–12
Acting Company, 9–12


Through a historical lens, students research prominent dance choreographers while simultaneously learning the fundamentals of dance composition. By studying examples of legendary dances, students are inspired and directed to create their own dance works. They research and share their creations within the class. The process and structure of the assignments introduces students to the craft of dance-making through teacher-led exploratory and improvisational-based exercises. In class discussions, videos and creative lab work help students develop the vocabulary and skills necessary to choreograph their own work. No prior choreographic experience is necessary. Students bring their own personal movement language and ideas to the table as they learn the fundamental tools of dance composition.

Semester Electives
Dance Composition: Exploring Self, 9–12
Dance Company, 9–12
Dance Ensemble, 9–12 (extracurricular)


  • Photo of Carrie Lewis
    Carrie Lewis
    Head of the Performing Arts Department and Music Teacher
    University of Kansas - B.M.
    Manhattan School of Music - M.M.
    New York University - M.A.
  • Photo of Esther Harris
    Esther Harris
    Choral Director
    Teachers College, Columbia University - Doctor of Education
    Holy Names University - Master of Music
    San Francisco State University - Bachelor of Music
  • Photo of Rem Myers
    Rem Myers
    Theater Teacher
    Hamilton College - BA
    Emerson College - MA
  • Photo of Julie Tice-Bubolz
    Julie Tice-Bubolz
    Dance Teacher
    University of Wisconsin - M.F.A.
    University of Michigan - B.D.A.