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Our Visual and Performing Arts Department provides courses and extracurricular opportunities which challenge and encourage each student to develop her own understanding of and abilities in an array of arts disciplines: dance, theatre, film, music, and visual arts. Through both individual and collaborative project-based learning, students discover their life-long love for the arts while actively engaging in qualitative problem-solving, research, technology, and aesthetic literacy. Girls unite theory with application as they acquire their own personal aesthetic vision; we emphasize artistic skills, sustained practice, risk-taking, interdisciplinary exploration, global context, and etiquette and ethics. Creativity is native to all the arts and prepares students to be visionaries in the 21st century.


“The Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) curriculum at Castilleja teaches students far more than basic art and performance skills. The arts also teach them design thinking, aesthetic literacy, and problem solving abilities. Connections are constantly being made between our curricular and co-curricular programs to reinforce student learning.”

—Helen Shanks, VPA Department Head

Essential Questions

  • How does art inform and transform each community and the global human experience? 
  • How do historical context and personal expression inform creation, and who decides what “great” art is?
  • What are the different elements and languages of art?
  • What are perception, analysis, and criticism in the arts? 
  • What is the role of research, critical reflection, and refinement in the arts?
  • How do people communicate through art and express themselves using the appropriate tools and technology?
  • How do I work creatively and collaboratively with others?
  • How can my artistic practice contribute to the world, and how do artists draw inspiration both from other artists and from the world around them?
  • How do I take risks so as to grow as an artist?
  • How do I continue my study of art outside of the classroom?
  • How does immersion, sustained discipline, engagement, and plain hard work affect one’s appreciation, skill, and practice in the arts?



  • Dance 6: Move It!
  • Dance 7: Dancing to the World’s Beat
  • Dance 8: Choreography
  • Core Arts
  • Dance Production Workshop I
  • Dance Production Workshop II
  • Advanced Dance Production Workshop


  • Theatre 6: Telling Stories
  • Theatre 7: Creating Characters
  • Theatre 8: Acting
  • Theatre 8: Production
  • Core Arts
  • Theatre I
  • Theatre II
  • The Actor and The Director* (Fall)


  • Movietime 8: Lights! Camera! Action!
  • Core Arts
  • Film I
  • Film II


  • Music 6: Experiencing Music
  • Music 7: Discovering the Joy of Music-Making
  • Music 8: Show Choir and Jazz Band
  • Core Arts
  • Instrumental Music Workshop I
  • Vocal Music Workshop I
  • Vocal Music Workshop II
  • Advanced Vocal Music Workshop
  • Honors Vocal Music
  • Advanced Topics in Music: Theory and Musicianship

Visual Arts

  • Art 6: Explore and Create
  • Art 7: Making Portraits
  • Art 8: Art, Fashion, and Print
  • Ceramics 8: An Introduction to Hand-Built Forms
  • Core Arts
  • Ceramic Design I
  • Ceramic Design II
  • Design and Sculpture I
  • Drawing and Painting I
  • Drawing and Painting II
  • Photography I
  • Photography II
  • Advanced Visual Art
  • AP Studio Art (Drawing and Painting, Design, or Photography)

What's Happening

Arts with a Heart

February 6, 7, 8

Get your tickets here now!


March 6, 7, 8

Tickets coming soon...


Arts with a Heart in the News

© 2014 Castilleja School    |   1310 Bryant Street    |    Palo Alto, CA 94301    |    650 328 3160    |    Contact Us     |    Careers    |    
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