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ACES Educational Center for the Arts, or ECA, is an American public arts magnet high school located at 55 Audubon Street in New Havenmarker, Connecticutmarker, USAmarker. The school is primarily located in the former Mishkan Israel synagogue with studio spaces across the street. The school has two theaters—the Arts Hall in the main building, and the Little Theatre at 1 Lincoln Street—and multiple gallery spaces throughout the main building.

The school is made of approximately 260 students and is divided into five distinct departments: Music, Dance, Theater, Creative Writing, and Visual Arts. Students take academic courses at their "sending schools" (public high schools) during the morning and attend classes within their departments during the afternoon from 1:00 to 4:00, Monday through Thursday.

Students may apply to up to three individual departments at a time and must prepare a portfolio, audition piece, or interview depending on the department to which they are applying. Accepted students may enroll at the beginning of any year of high school.

ECA is based on the idea of artists teaching artists, employing working artists to teach high school students their art form of choice.

Music Department

The Music Department is located on the first floor of the main building and often performs in the Arts Hall or the Little Theatre. The Music Department includes both instrumentalists and singers, and students are placed in large and small ensembles based on instrument and experience. Students learn various styles of music including classical, jazz, and world music. They also take courses in music theory and musicianship, and students who reach a sufficient proficiency in theory are allowed to take classes in jazz and classical composition. In 2007, the Music Department hosted its first ever New Music Festival, featuring works by student and guest composers.

Dance Department

The Dance Department is located on the second floor in the Arts Hall or across the street at the Danspace Studio. Dancers learn styles such as ballet, tap dance, and African dance, yet the focus is on modern dance. Students also attend choreography courses and their work is featured in annual performances. Dancers end the year with senior pieces, a collection of dances choreographed by each member of the senior class. The Dance Department performs in the Arts Hall.

Theater Department

The Theater Department is located on the third floor studio, in the Little Theatre, and in Studio 70. Run by five to six permanent faculty members and numerous guest artists, the curriculum stretches from basic acting techniques such as Uta Hagen's Nine Questions to specialty classes such as Theater for Social Change projects and Viewpoints. Experience in technical theatre is also required. The goal of the curriculum is to teach young actors that there is more to theater than just standing on the stage. Students take two theatre classes per quarter and one elective per semester. First semester, students have a main class three days per week (1:00 to 3:00 on Mondays, and 1:00 to 4:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays). The main class focuses on a particular element of theater such as Scene Study or Playwriting or a special topic in theater such as Feminist Theater. Occasionally, the first quarter course will be continued during the second quarter (ex. Scene Study into Classical Scene Study.) The second class is a technique class that meets from 1:00 to 3:00 on Wednesdays. Placement in the techniques classes is based on a student's grade in high school and year at ECA. These classes include classes in Voice and Speech, Improvisation, Theatre Movement, and History of theatre. School-wide electives meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:00 to 4:00. Classes are divided into one or two productions during the second semester. Students audition for roles within the two plays over the course of a week and are cast based on their auditions, class work, and previous experience. Not all students are cast in the productions. The students in the cast(s) use class time to rehearse while the other students take either a technical class for the production or another specialty class. Every three to four years, the theater department performs a department-wide mainstage performance in which every person participates. Whether acting in the play, making the costumes, working backstage, building the set, or working in stage management, everyone plays an important role in the production. Each quarter, the theatre department attends a play at a local theater, and students are required to write a graded theatre review. In addition to class work and performances, the theater reviews are the basis of grading for the department. Students within the theater department often take private Saturday classes or attend a summer program run by the ECA staff as a supplement to their classwork. Graduating seniors receive a portfolio of all their work completed while attending ECA.

Creative Writing Department

Located on the fourth floor of the main building, the Creative Writing Department is the smallest department within the school. Classes meet from 1:00 - 3:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays and 1:00 - 4:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students take courses in Poetry, Short Story Writing, Personal Essays,Playwriting and Screenwriting. Students' work is featured in readings located in the Arts Hall. Also in the department is an annual magazine where writers submit their work for approval, which is then published in a collaborative book put together by the department itself. The fourth floor is enabled with wireless internet for the purposes of wireless laptops assigned to students for the use of writing and then uploading to private sites such as Blackboard, where comments and critique may be given on a digital scope.Throughout the year, the department goes on various trips to enhance their knowledge of their art. Biennially they visit the Dodge Poetry Festival in Stanhope, New Jersey to experience a multitude of readings in the beautiful Waterloo village. The department also attends performances at the Yale Repertory Theatremarker, and the Long Wharf Theatremarker.

Visual Arts Department

The Visual Arts Department is located on the fifth floor of the main building. The curriculum is divided into three media: two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and media. Two-dimensional courses include drawing and painting, while three-dimensional courses include a variety of sculpture classes. Media includes photography, animation, and digital art. The classes offered each quarter fluctuate due to the small, specialized staff. To evenly distribute students, each student is required to take one class in each medium each year. The fourth quarter class may be taken in any of the three media, and students may repeat a class within a medium. Classes meet daily from 1:00 to 4:00. Gallery openings of student work are held at the end of every quarter. Every spring Seniors organize their own, separate, show during New Haven's International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

Electives

Electives are semester classes, offered to all students in all departments. Classes meet from 3:00 to 4:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays. Electives give students the chance to mingle with the other departments, as well as receive some instruction in an area outside of their chosen department. Students are excluded from electives that fall within their normal range of study (ex. Dancers may not take Hip Hop).

Notable alumni



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