TPHS’ annual Visual and Performing Arts Day on June 4-5 saw scheduling changes this year, with students showcasing their work in different locations across campus and in three 20-minute sessions with 10-minute breaks in between each show.
“Our department collectively wanted to do something different other than just having kids in the gym,” art teacher Emily Moran said. “Management-wise, it [was] kind of difficult. We thought it would be interesting to do more of a festival rotation-type format.”
Participating teachers signed up to rotate between three sessions for each period from the choices of visual arts, theater, music, film or dance.
“We [previously] would have an indefinite amount of kids and classes at once,” Moran said. “[This year classes rotated between] different spaces, [and each session] is limited to a certain number of classes. So, just space-wise there’s more space for people to walk around, and [they are] less likely to bump into artwork.”
Teachers and students also hoped that the changes would improve more than just management. Instead of playing in the full orchestra, members of the music department only performed during the periods in which they had their music classes.
“We’re all spread out around campus, [not] having a big event in the gym where everybody comes together,” Wind Ensemble member Julia Yang (10) said. “The audience [would] be smaller and hopefully more respectful, especially because they signed up for the specific program and are hopefully interested in it. Teachers can actually pay attention to their students and keep them paying attention.”
Symphonic Band member Jennifer Dubowitz (12) noted that the amount of respect that performers received this year was indeed much higher than in past years.
“We could see everybody in the crowd, and everybody could see us,” Dubowitz said. “It wasn’t like you were sitting in a far corner and couldn’t see what was going on. People were more engaged in performances, and it was more difficult to get distracted. People were talking and yelling in the crowd over music and performances [when] I was sitting in the crowd last year.”
AP Studio Art student Cassie Sun (11) also welcomes efforts to ensure that audiences “actually take their time to appreciate [students’] work, because [they] all work really hard.”
“Torrey Pines is known so much as a sports school that it’s kind of important that people know that Torrey Pines is really strong in the arts, too,” Sun said. “We just had [student Danielle Li (11)] win a contest at the [Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego]. We’re pretty strong in art; it’s just that not many people know it.”
However, Moran acknowledged that the scheduling change posed some potential drawbacks.
“Other teachers might have difficulty with the sessions and the scheduling, but hopefully they can work around it,” Moran said.
Dubowitz also observed that festival-like rotation engendered some confusion in teachers who signed up their classes for certain sessions.
“Some people … weren’t entirely sure what they were signing up for,” Dubowitz said. “People were signing up for combos of certain bands, and they didn’t actually know what that would entail. I know that some people actually wrote emails and called in [after signing up] saying, ‘I didn’t know what this was, can I switch?’ Some people didn’t know what they wanted to do when they [signed up].”
Dubowitz said she preferred last year’s schedule because she liked the experience of seeing projects from each of the different arts departments in one session. However, she believes that this year’s schedule was more beneficial to performers in terms of respect from the audience.
Moran said that before deciding whether next year’s VPA Day will follow the same format as this year’s, the visual and performing arts department first needs to analyze the effectiveness of the schedules of both of this year’s VPA Days. The second day occured on June 5, a day after the Falconer went to press.
by Emily Sun