Students Expand Arts Learning Through Master Classes

To instill confidence in students and build their arts skills, Performing Arts Director Neptune Pringle III invited dancers, singers, actors and tech crew members to Master Classes this month.

From contemporary dance to improvisation, each class focused on one aspect of performing arts. Neptune believes a successful performer is one who is well-rounded: who can dance and learn choreography; can act from a script and improv; understands what goes into a production beyond the actors on stage; projects her voice and sings. “I’m a big proponent of constant learning and growing,” said Neptune. “I felt it was important for the girls to learn new skills and improve on those they already have.”

Visiting artists leading these classes included Bhaylynn Tiwari ‘18, who taught hip-hop choreography. When Neptune was in the planning stages, Bhaylynn reached out to Director of Student Activities Raynetta Jackson-Clay about coming back to campus to work with students. It was a perfect opportunity. “We’re definitely working on creating a better bridge between this office and Alumnae Office to bring more [alumnae] back,” Neptune said. In April, the Alumnae Office hosts a pre-theater event for Nolan Center alumna, and he plans to introduce himself and encourage more alumnae to get involved.

Other unique instructors included Patrick Fleury - son of Director of Learning Support Andrea Fleury - who works with Washington Improv Theater and Thomas Nagata, who has worked on set design, makeup, and costuming for productions like the Lion King and Into the Woods. Meredith Barnes, who taught contemporary dance, is head of Performing Arts at Fairfax Dance Academy. Based on her work with the girls, Neptune and Meredith are now building a partnership. 

“The girls had a great time,” said Neptune. Students were often a bit unsure at the beginning of the class. “There was a lot of ‘I can’t’ and then they saw that they could.”

A second set of Master Classes will take place during the performing arts trip to New York City in February.

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