Department: The Arts

The Arts come alive at Milken, enabling our students to explore their talents and harness their creative energies on the stage, in the studio and in the classroom. Our rich offerings in the arts arena give them abundant resources to hone their performance skills, deepen their power of critical analysis and bolster their self-confidence. As we encourage their passions, we take them on a journey of learning and self-discovery.

The Performing Arts Department at Milken awakens, develops, and celebrates every students’ inner musician, dancer, actor, comedian, theatre designer and stage technician. Students can choose to participate in our choirs, Koleinu, Kol Echad, and Milken Honeys, the orchestra program or our jazz ensemble, as well as audition to be part of our annual musicals, plays, or the Sketch Comedy Club, or join our Milken Dance Company.

The Visual Arts Department equips students to develop a visual language for representing creative concepts and ideas through hands-on instruction in a studio environment that fosters individual artistic expression and experimentation. Students can choose from a variety of visual arts courses including architecture, ceramics, design arts, fashion, drawing, graphic design, painting and digital photography.

One of our Signature Programs that is also part of our Arts Department is the Architecture+Design Institute, a national leader in preparing students with a comprehensive foundation in product and structural design. A+DI courses include architectrual design, design arts, fashion design and graphic design.

Course Listings: Performing Arts

List of 12 items.

  • Acting

    In this Middle School course, students develop foundational acting skills and explore the rich history and culture of Jewish theatre. This fun and exciting class introduces the basics of how to perform improvised scenes for their fellow students. Students learn how to use “yes-and”, active listening, and scene partner support to create comedic improvised scenes. Students in this class are also given the opportunity to be a part of our Middle School improv troupe and the Middle School shows.
  • Acting I & II

    Students study basic acting, exploring the essential question: How do you step into another person’s shoes: their circumstances, beliefs, bodies, and dreams? Students use games, exercises, and improvisation to develop essential acting skills. Acting is also a wonderful way to gain confidence in speaking and performing before others. In Acting II, students apply their skills toward preparing a role for performance.  When taken together, Acting I & II fulfill Milken's arts requirement and is CSU/UC approved as a visual/ performing art.
  • Chamber Ensemble

    The Chamber Ensemble is an instrumental performance group that emphasizes classical repertoire, explores Jewish music, and includes varied ethnic and contemporary styles. Students connect selected pieces to Jewish history, culture, and values. The goal of class rehearsals is to deepen each student's musicianship by developing skills in phrasing, dynamics, ensemble playing and interpretation. To achieve these goals, students master the notes, intonation, and rhythms outside of class.
  • Dance

    This fun, exciting, and upbeat class is for those who love a combination of getting in some exercise while having a great time! Since dance is both artistic and athletic, this class will be dedicated to developing both technique and creativity. Students will learn basic dance vocabulary, create their own choreography, hone their performance skills, and develop their appreciation of dance. This course is open to dancers of all levels. There is also an after school dance team available to students.
  • Filmmaking

    Be your own Spielberg! Filmmaking introduces Middle School students to the world of the cinema. Students gain skills in screenwriting, outlining a story, pitching a story, staging, shooting, lighting, sound, and editing, while working on screenplays, storyboards, and short film projects. Training includes studies in film theory, genre, and camera operation. Students will take part in creating their own 5-15 minute short film by the end of the course in a collaborative, creative environment.
  • Intro to Instruments & Music Theory

    Students learn the fundamentals of music theory, and how to read music and play instruments. Students with limited or no prior instrument experience are welcome as well as students who already play piano but do not know how to read music. This course is recommended for students who wish to take AP Music Theory in the following year.
  • Jazz Band

    Students will experiment with beginning ensemble playing as well as improvisation. Students learn the technical and interpretative skills needed to play and perform in a jazz and jazz/rock context. They should have some instrumental experience and an instrument to practice on at home. The ensemble performs a variety of music in an environment that encourages personal instrumental development as well as ensemble technique and improvisation.
  • Jazz Ensemble

    Jazz Ensemble is for Upper School students interested in an ensemble that focuses on modern musical styles. Students learn to play jazz as well as some rock and pop music in an ensemble context. Focus is on pitch, blend, rhythm, and period-specific nuances that make the various genres and eras of jazz distinct. This class places an emphasis on improvisation: on students' individual instruments and within a group setting.
  • Jazz Lab Band

    This small group or ‘combo’ class focuses on individual artistic expression. This course stresses interpretation, nuance of arrangement and improvisation. This course is for advanced and interested students who wish to improve their individual skills and meets during the lishma period.
  • Kol Echad: Upper School Choir

    Kol Echad is Milken's premier vocal ensemble and sings primarily a cappella. Students celebrate contemporary, classical and Jewish vocal music through high-quality, meaningful performances. Students learn a variety of music; work collaboratively in small groups with sectional rehearsals; sing challenging, 4-8 part music; and are expected to be part-independent. Students connect selected pieces to Jewish history, culture, and values. Students serve as leaders and ambassadors in and around Milken's communities.
  • Koleinu: Vocal Ensemble (Middle School)

    In this Middle School class, students will explore their voices, learning the parts that make up their singing system, and will learn techniques for strong, healthy vocal production. Koleinu sings a variety of music in English, Hebrew, and other languages. This fun and exciting group has the opportunity to join with the upper school Kol Echad program for performances and mentorship, and participates in a National competition in the Spring.
  • Tech Theatre I & II

    Upper School students learn the arts of stagecraft, set design, set construction, sound and light operation, and show production. This class is an exciting, fun, and practical elective that teaches students to build scenery, hang and focus lighting instruments, set up sound playback and amplification, and prepare to participate in a live performance as a member of a production crew.  Students participate in the construction and installation of the scenery for all school productions. Students serve as members of a Tech Crew during live performances produced at Milken.

Course Listings: Visual Arts

List of 10 items.

  • Architectural Design

    Upper School students explore real-world design problems and challenges within the built environment as individual designers and a collective team. Mathematical, scientific, and artistic processes are applied to creative solutions for real-world problems, preparing the students both academically and professionally. Analyses include issues of form and function, aesthetics, cultural precedents, site conditions, natural forces, energy efficient design materials and methodologies, and impact on the human experience. The students apply fundamental design elements and principles to conceptualize and design two-dimensional compositions and three-dimensional projects. They focus on an individual project that corresponds with tikkun olam and responsible citizenry. Areas of study and exploration include the design of a public structure, interior design, landscape design and urban planning. Hand drawing and computer-aided software are used for design and site selection. Students learn from professional architects and designers through presentations, panels, field trips and hands-on experiences in the community. Opportunity for community service related to architecture is included. The course culminates with the completion of all projects displayed and presented and Annual Art Show. This course is for advanced architecture students and fulfills the Visual and Performing Arts requirement for graduation from Milken Community School and admission to the University of California and other institutions of higher learning.
  • Art

    In this foundational Middle School class, students study line, shape, form, value and composition. Students are introduced to a variety of media including graphite pencils, color pencils, charcoal, pastels, and ink. Students develop ideas through the thumbnail drawing process and produce works of still life and portrait. Students become aware of the art historical context of drawing and painting. Students display their artwork from the year at the Annual Milken Student Art Show in May.
  • Ceramics

    Upper School students learn sculpting techniques and three-dimensional design using clay. Students learn two-dimensional drawing prior to creation of the form and use the principles of art and design to develop three-dimensional art pieces. Students learn proper treatment of green ware and preparation for final firing, application procedures and techniques for successful under glazing and glazing. Students study the role of historic and contemporary ceramics and explore decorative ceremonial objects created by Jewish artisans. Students participate in class discussions, relating their self-reflections and the views of the artists. Students participate in class critiques and discussions, learning to analyze and describe art pieces. Students develop ceramic art pieces reflecting individual style.
  • Design Arts

    Upper School students establish the foundation for processes in critical-thinking and problem-solving necessary for work in advanced classes in A+DI. Central topics include elements and principles of design, observational and plan drawing, the influence of contemporary, cultural, and historic design, color theory, conceptual development, divergent design thinking, the design process, representation and construction techniques, and presentation skills.
  • Digital Photography

    Middle School photography students explore the functions of the DSLR camera by taking portrait, landscape, documentary, and motion photographs. Students will learn lighting techniques, design elements of framing and composing a shot, and post-shot enhancements through Photoshop. Students will tell their silent story through photography and how these stories have the power to shape opinions and history. Student will have the opportunity to showcase their work at spotlight events and the Milken Art Show.
  • Drawing and Painting

    Upper School students develop an understanding of techniques, terms, and materials needed for further studies in the arts. They learn compositional principles necessary to balance space and form through observation and interpretation. Students learn how to incorporate the Elements of Art and Principles of Design. Students learn fundamental lessons in perspective, still life, portraiture, landscape and figurative work while being exposed to a variety of media including: pencil, colored pencil, charcoal, oil pastels, acrylic paint and mixed media.
  • Fashion Design

    Upper School students develop knowledge and skills in fashion illustration, concept and product design while forming an understanding and mindfulness for our environment as individual designers and a collective team. Analyses include historic and contemporary fashion and costume design, cultural and societal perspectives, traditional and unconventional textile and construction techniques. Conceptual design studies focus on the use of upcycled, reusable, recycled and sustainable materials. Students apply patternmaking to functional and wearable products using professional tools and machines to design and create functional and wearable products. Students explore career opportunities in the area of fashion and costume design through research, field trips and guest presenters. Prerequisite: Design Arts.
  • Graphic Design

    This Upper School course provides a foundation for work in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Through the study of historic and contemporary examples of graphic design, students develop an understanding of the link between visual representation and message. They apply this understanding to artworks reflecting cultural and personal focus using the fundamental principles of graphic design.
  • Photography I & II

    Upper School students learn to use a hand-held digital camera (DSLR) and basic composition using the principles and elements of art. A historical context of photographers, technique, and application emphasizes the aesthetic and conceptual issues of photography. Students are introduced to the "Digital Darkroom," learning image editing and management, and output for print and screen. Students learn Adobe Photoshop: compositing, creating layers, selecting operating areas, and making adjustments. Projects include: portrait, landscape, nature, and macro photography.
  • Yearbook

    Students produce a professional publication that records the people and stories of Milken Community School. Students become adept at collaboration, layout design, photography, copywriting, and overall thematic development.

Not Just Acting, Creating!

The Arts Department Faculty

List of 14 members.

  • Photo of Delphine Anaya

    Delphine Anaya 

    Visual Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Tina Berkett

    Tina Berkett 

    Dance Company Director
  • Photo of Brian Byrne

    Brian Byrne 

    Performing Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Bonnie Ebner

    Bonnie Ebner 

    Visual Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Sarah Figoten

    Sarah Figoten 

    Performing Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Lee Kasper

    Lee Kasper 

    Performing Arts Instructional Leader
  • Photo of Justin Kang

    Justin Kang 

    Visual Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Fekerte Klabon

    Fekerte Klabon 

    Visual Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Ken Lasaine

    Ken Lasaine 

    Performing Arts Teacher
    310.440.3500 x3665
  • Photo of Mary Ellen Mortimer

    Mary Ellen Mortimer 

    Visual Arts Teacher
    310.440.3500 x3006
  • Photo of Sarah Shapiro

    Sarah Shapiro 

    Performing Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Monica Tiulescu

    Monica Tiulescu 

    Visual Arts Instructional Leader
  • Photo of Elliott Turner

    Elliott Turner 

    Visual Arts Teacher
  • Photo of Jordan Martone

    Jordan Martone 

    Performing Arts Teacher

Connect With Us

At Milken Community School, we think education is more than what you know. Our School, founded on Jewish values, is about who our children can become and how they can help others become who they might be. Because the world our children will create tomorrow is born in the School we build today, our mission is to educate our children so they can surpass us.