There’s a beauty in the arts at Deerfield. From football players on stage to poets on paper, it seems that students of all backgrounds and skill sets can participate in bringing the world of the arts to our eyes and our ears.
There is an extensive year ahead with plentiful performance opportunities: KFC, the dance showcases, the Fall Play, AP art and photography exhibitions, Albany Road issues, the A cappellafest, chamber and band concerts, and so much more.
The Deerfield community comes together each time to appreciate the hard work of our student artists.
However, each day at Deerfield is already filled up to the brim with homework, club meetings, sports games, and social interactions.
For new students and non-artists alike, it can be exceedingly overwhelming to venture into this new world of the arts, even if you’re interested in it.
To combat this fear, here is a comprehensive introduction to the arts programs at Deerfield, and how you can get involved now, no matter who or where you are on the artistic spectrum.
Deerfield’s dance program, reputable across all of New England, has been a staple of campus entertainment. At school meetings, everyone eagerly awaits the dance performances, and each term’s showcase are some of the most anticipated events of the year. Offered in and out of the academic day, Deerfield’s dance program covers a wide variety of styles for students of all experience levels from complete beginners to pre-professionals.
Classes are offered both during the academic day and co-curricular periods for dancers of all levels. The program offers students Intro to Dance and Dance I during 5th period, Dance II and III during 6th, while the Advanced Dance Ensemble meets during 7th period. Each level prepares throughout the year for performances at each term-end showcase. Ms. Jennifer Whitcomb notes, “Dance I still has plenty of room in it for new dancers, and it meets 5th period during the winter and spring.”
Even more exciting are the dance showcases that occur at the end of each term. All students are encouraged to audition, and they offer a variety of styles from hip hop, contemporary, ballet, and jazz, for all different levels. Look out for the the upcoming Fall Family Weekend Performing Arts Showcase that goes up on Friday, October 12th at 7:30 in the Large Auditorium.
“I would say that I didn’t start dancing until I was a 9th grader in high school, so they’re right on schedule! It’s a perfect time to start dancing.”
– Ms. Jennifer Whitcomb
“I originally came to Deerfield last year as a ballet dancer, but I really wanted to try something new so I started doing hip hop. It’s by far my weakest style but I’ve had so much fun trying to improve. The dance program can develop your already existing passion or it can be an outlet to try something new.”
– Selena Martineau ’19
“I started dance the winter of my sophomore year, and, honestly, it was the best decision of my life. Deerfield is all about trying new things and the dance program here is amazing.”
– Nicholas Ortega ’19
“I think Deerfield does a great job of giving opportunities for dancers of all levels. If your a beginner, there is the intro to dance academic class or there are cocurricular options as well. Also for the student choreography showcase, there are usually a few beginner pieces that are really easy and really fun, no matter your skill level.
– Quinn Soucy ’19
Another very popular art course that many students at Deerfield pursue is ‘Photography’ and ‘Videography’. All around campus, there are opportunities to capture a beautiful moment in time, from hiking to the rock to watching a dance showcase to seeing another sunset over the Quad, and Deerfield’s photography students take advantage of them. Often known as the unsung heroes of Deerfield arts, there are numerous ways to get involved with the photography program today.
Photography is offered in introductory, intermediate, AP, and Post-AP classes in photography and videography all throughout the academic day. Taught by Mr. Tim Trelease, “all levels of photography students learn skills and employ photography as a creative form of artistic expression with DSLR and film cameras, digital editing/Photoshop, and darkroom developing and printing”.
Another way outside the academic day is through student publications in need of photographers. Through Albany Road, Deerfield’s literary and arts magazine, student photographers can submit and share their work to the community. Photographers can also work under the Scroll, Deerfield’s newspaper. Those interested in videography and film can look forward to the annual ‘Widdies’, a highly anticipated night where the community comes together to watch both light-hearted and sophisticated film works of student artists.
“If you want to try photography, go for it. Find the kind of photo that’s right for you, whether it’s taking pictures of the landscape or doing photoshoots. You don’t know until you try.”
– Kendall Duff ’21.
Chorus & A cappella
Whether you’re a singer or not, everyone loves to sing – whether it be on the bus back from a sports game, at Sunday sit downs, in the showers, or just with friends in the common room. At Deerfield, you have the opportunity to take this hobby further, developing and honing your skills in the choral and a cappella programs.
Chorus, directed by Dr. Tom Pousont, can be taken both as a class and as an extracurricular activity. As a class, singers can take the Chorus during the academic day, and more advanced singers can try out for the Advanced Vocal Ensemble. The easiest way to check out the chorus at Deerfield is to come to Tuesday evening rehearsals, usually running between dinner and study hall, which is open to everyone in the community.
In the early fall, students can also audition for the student-led a cappella groups, of which there are currently three: Co-ed a cappella; the Mellow-Ds (all male); and the Rhapso-Ds (all female). Performing at various venues such as school meeting, trustee dinners, and the ever-popular ‘A Cappella Fest’ in the spring, All three groups are motivated to create ‘music with their mouths’.
“The energy every year is so different,” Melisa Gurkan ’19, co-captain of the Rhapso’D’s comments, “and the girls foster such a great environment.”
“If you love singing, acapella is a great outlet on campus to learn and grow as a singer. If you’ve seen Pitch Perfect, it really isn’t like that. It’s not perfect. But it is a really fun and rewarding experience that I highly recommend.”
– Elliot Flagg ’20
“I hadn’t had any A cappella experience and so I was prettyanervous to audition for the group but I am so happy I did. I’ve met so many people I never would’ve met otherwise and I encourage everyone to either partake in a cappella or watch!”
– Nikita Pelletier ’20
“Don’t be intimidated! This is the key thing to understand, and a big part of what makes a chorus so amazing: no matter your experience level or what grandma said about your voice, there is a place for you in the Tuesday evening chorus. Every singer begins their career by not having a clue. All you need is enough courage to open your mouth, the willingness to open your ears and listen, and some positive effort. The rest of us will help you with the details.”
– Dr. Tom Pousont
Known for being a program full of seasoned musicians, chamber and orchestral music programs tend to intimidate students, even those interested in classical music. However, the chamber music program at Deerfield, while disciplined and proficient, remains accessible to all students.
As a class, musicians in chamber music meet during 7th period. Like the band program, they are split into different ensembles of 2-8 each day, and prepare pieces for concerts at the end of each term. As an extracurricular, orchestra is a space where all classical musicians meet every Sunday to prepare full-ensemble pieces for numerous performances throughout each year. Consisting of violinists to timpani players, orchestra connects people of all backgrounds and experiences together. Sign up for chamber music or orchestra through Mr. Tom Bergeron.
“I would highly recommend chamber music at Deerfield to anyone who’s considering it. Chamber music allows us to strengthen our relationships with others and music simultaneously. The chamber music program here has successfully achieved that environment.”
– Arayana Carr-Mal ’20
The Drawing and painting program is unique in that many students get their first formal training at Deerfield and stay with it, all the way right through to the college application. Student artists have amazing opportunities, travelling to London this past summer, numerous field trips throughout the year, and through the Von Auersperg gallery.
The “Intro the Studio Art” courses during first period are the best way for the novice to get involved in the program. These courses are very popular and they really develop your mindset and skill level,” Mr. Dickinson explains. Many students at Deerfield are taught foundational skills at this level, and often move onto higher levels of ‘AP Studio Art’ during 4th and 5th, where students can submit their art portfolios to the AP College Board, and ‘Topics Post AP’ and ‘Tutorial’ for more advanced artists.
“I would definitely tell [students that are intimidated] to throw caution to the wind. Become involved. Because I believe that everyone can be taught to draw. We take everyone at their level, so we’re not talking about their talent. Everything we teach here is teachable.”
– Mr. David Dickinson
On the other side of the musical spectrum, students who enjoy rock, jazz, funk, and all other styles of music may partake in Deerfield’s band program. This may include taking the 6th period band-course, performing at the winter and spring KFCs or even starting your own band.
As a class, ‘Bands: Wind/Rock/Jazz’ is taken 6th period, and directed by Mr. John Van Eps. Covering an extensive range of musical styles, all students who take this class are grouped into different ensembles that meet on a schedule, fostering an extremely collaborative and diverse environment. Students who take this class play instruments including the clarinet, the vibraphone, electric guitar, the saxophone, and many more.
On another note, ‘band’ also expands to extracurricular activities, including many student-initiatives on campus. Coda, the on campus rock band started by Joshua Fang ’19 and Andy Han ’19 two years ago, is an exciting example of how students can become leaders on campus.
Coda has performed at school meetings, Choate Day, and even the senior graduation dinner.
“We have teachers in every instrument and we have experienced coaches in all forms of music. Everything from jazz to funk to hip hop to rock. It’s a great place to learn and instrument and have fun with friends.”
– Mr. John Van Eps.
“You shouldn’t be scared to play music, if you want to go for it you should. I knew I always wanted to play an instrument but I could never find one that connected to me like guitar did. I tried piano, saxophone, organ, but those I never fell in love with like guitar. Find your instrument, then find your voice.”
-Mike Shalaby ’20
“I started Coda several years ago with Andy because we felt that Deerfield band didn’t get enough attention in the public eye… Lucky for musicians, Deerfield is very supportive of student projects. They love it when students are on stage. Coda has not only helped showcase the best of band to the Deerfield community, but it has also given instrumentalists on campus a chance to come together and learn from one another.“
– Josh Fang ’19
According to the director of the theatre program, Mrs. Catriona Hynds, “Deerfield Theatre is a program of where anyone can find an immediate “family”, one that you are likely to remain friends with until you graduate.” Every term, the entire Deerfield community is eager to fill into the Black Box Theatre of the Hess and appreciate the hard work and effort that student actors, technicians, and directors put into each play.
Putting on 3 plays a term every year, Deerfield’s theatre program hosts a large variety of positions for involvement. There’s no commitment when auditioning, and students don’t even have to be signed up for the co-curricular. Each term, students are invited to audition or be a part of the technical team, which entails set-building, and light, sound, costume and prop design.
In the past, the theatre program has enjoyed success with productions such as Big Love, the Musical Revue, Pinkalicious, and more.
“Look out for the Fall play: ‘Twelve Angry Jurors’: a blistering play that focuses on inherent bias, which is hugely topical in the world we live in today.”
– Mrs. Catriona Hynds
“Getting involved in theatre is so easy! This year, for our winter show, we’ll be taking everyone, so I recommend everyone to try it out. Arts at Deerfield, and especially theatre shows, are such a special aspect of Deerfield that I think everyone should experience during their time in the valley.”
– Alexa Brown ’19
“It’s a really supportive community full of people who genuinely want to see each other thrive. It’s a great way to explore new opportunities because the theatre program is always open to anyone who wants to try something new. I was part of the Spring Musical Revue last year and I learned so much from both of our incredible directors, Lori Clark and Catriona Hynds. It was an honor to work with them.
– Emma Earls ’20
“When I came to Deerfield I knew I wanted to be involved in the theatre program. It’s always been a big part of my life, and I was amazed by all the talented actors and actresses here.”
– Angelique Alexos ’20
Stepping outside the mold of what is commonly considered as ‘Art’, the Deerfield community has found a way to integrate literature with the arts in a tremendously creative fashion.
For one, there are numerous academic journals, political magazines, and newspapers on campus. The Scroll, one of the oldest newspapers in the MA region, is a great way to get to know people on campus and foster key journalistic skills. The Green Light, The Scrawl, and Door to Stem are more examples of the numerous publications on campus that cater to the diverse interests Deerfield students exhibit. All such publications accept applications to be staff writers; if you miss the deadline, rest assured they will read and consider any articles you write for publishing.
In addition, extracurricular groups such as Off Key, Deerfield’s slam poetry club, and the Creative Writing club serve as more opportunities for students to share their writing with the Deerfield community.
Another way to share your literature is to apply or submit to Albany Road, Deerfield’s student-led literary and arts magazine. Accepting short stories, poetry, photography, and art, Albany Road anonymously reviews student submissions and compiles selected pieces into beautiful booklets each term to share with the community. Open to everyone, Albany Road serves as an outlet for all student writers and creative thinkers who wish to share their writing and art.
“We publish 4 issues a year, and host events where student artists can perform and showcase their work. Submissions for the fall issue are now open until October 31st, so it is a great opportunity to get your work out there now. Past issues can be found on our website: albanyroad.com. Additionally, on October 10th, Albany Road will also be hosting a writing workshop, for students to explore some writing prompts and share their work in a supportive environment.”
-Sydney Bebon, ’19
“Albany Road is a great way to appreciate the student body’s works in the arts and it really emphasizes the importance of the arts at Deerfield Academy.”
– Madeline Lee ’20