The Arts

We encourage every pupil at College to express herself creatively and learn to work collaboratively.

This is not only enjoyable, stimulating and rewarding in itself, but also helps to develop essential skills and self-confidence.

College offers students Alexander Technique lessons to help with their general well-being, as well as with their performance in music, drama and sport. 

ART AND DESIGN

Art at College takes place in an award-winning, contemporary building with exceptional facilities. Art at College focuses on the acquisition of techniques, skills and vocabulary in order to communicate and express ideas visually. Creativity, innovation and artistic talent are encouraged, along with taking creative risks and learning from mistakes.

Textiles is embedded within the Art and Design curriculum. The girls undertake practical activities to understand fabrics, construction and manufacturing skills, and appreciate the design process.

The understanding and application of these skills in a commercial context, allows the girls to produce outstanding work at every level, from dresses for the Upcycled Fashion Show to preparation for Art-based university courses.

Our art teachers are well-qualified specialists who teach a variety of disciplines including oil-painting, print-making, ceramics, textiles, photography, mixed-media work and sculpture.

These activities are available to all pupils as part of the co-curricular programme, regardless of whether they pursue the subject as part of their academic studies.

DANCE

Dance is a compulsory part of the curriculum in LC1 and LC2 (Year 7 and 8) and can be continued as an option from LC3 (Year 9) upwards. All students have the opportunity to sign up for dance classes as part of the Extras and Clubs provision within co-curricular activities.

We cater for a wide range of styles and abilities and all our lessons promote inclusion, physical fitness, enjoyment and social interaction. No previous dance experience is required. Students can choose to work towards being entered for RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) or ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing) examinations.

Towards the end of the Autumn term there is a dance performance staged at our wonderful, purpose-built theatre in the Parabola Arts Centre. In 2021 we staged our first full length dance production, The Nutcracker Princess. This year the Dance Department will be collaborating with the Drama and Music Departments on the bi-annual musical in March, which will be Billy Elliot.

Other opportunities for students to perform include InterSoc, the annual International Society celebration and the Talent Show organised by our Sixth Form. We recently reinstated the annual inter-house dance battle with students competing for House points.

We often invite professional dancers and companies to College to deliver workshops and performances to our pupils. In 2022, some of our students took part in the mass-community dance performance for the opening of King’s Square in Gloucester, with over 100 young people participating. Four students worked with a professional choreographer and performed specially commissioned choreography, accompanied by the Gloucestershire Symphony Orchestra at the Cheltenham Town Hall.

DRAMA

College has a long tradition of creating exciting and thought-provoking theatre. Whether acting, directing or supporting productions in our stunning 325-seat theatre at the Parabola Arts Centre (PAC), or engaging in workshops with visiting professional companies, drama is a diverse and inspiring part of College life.

The Drama Department stages four main productions each year, and pupils from every year group have the opportunity to audition for at least one of these. Students often assist behind the scenes by helping to direct productions, or as part of our technical crew, supervised by the Parabola Arts Centre technical manager and technician.

Recent productions have included: Things I Know To Be TrueToybox Tales and Living with Lady MacBeth and our annual Open-Air Shakespeare Festival.

In addition to the curriculum Drama lessons, students are able to study for Trinity and LAMDA acting, musical theatre and communication exams with our visiting drama teachers. Every year students across Upper College (Years 10 and 11) and Sixth Form College (Years 12 and 13) are successful in gaining places on the National Youth Theatre Acting, Technical and/or Musical Theatre courses.

MUSIC

Music is flourishing at College. Every week during term, more than 1,000 individual music lessons and ensembles take place within the Music Department. This is all the more amazing as no pupil misses an academic lesson to attend her music lessons. A tremendous range of instruments is taught by more than 40 permanent or visiting staff and many girls also take ABRSM practical exams and London College of Music (LCM) exams. 

From Symphony Orchestra, Flute Ensemble and Symphonic Wind Band to Jazz Band, Percussion Club and Hellacappella, College’s a cappella group, the diversity of music-making is a joy for all. The talents of our keen and skilled musicians are on display annually at the Autumn, Christmas and Summer Concerts, Scholars’ Concerts, the Spring Concert and the May Concert. In addition, we have events such as a Piano Masterclass and competitions in Wind and Brass, Strings, Keyboard and Singing.

The Princess Hall, which seats around 1,200 people, is often used for major music concerts throughout the year, whilst a series of smaller lunchtime concerts take place in a variety of spaces across College.

One of the highlights of College’s musical year is the House Music Competition. Each Junior House chooses a popular song and arranges it for their House choir and band. The competition is always a colourful, entertaining and joyous occasion.

In addition to our fixed, annual series of concerts, we often present concerts beyond College. We have recently expanded the number of public concerts we give, staging events in Chapel Arts and Pittville Pump Room in Cheltenham, and at Tewkesbury Abbey. Our major overseas tours take place biennially, usually in the first week of the summer holidays. Recent tours have taken us to Venice, Tuscany and Umbria, Emilia Romagna, Provence, Andalucia and Catalonia. Over the past few years, the choir has also sung in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, St. George's Chapel, Windsor, Salisbury Cathedral, Eton College Chapel and York Minster.

In recent years, College has invested in a recording studio, based within the music department, and in addition to dozens of practice rooms on the College main site and in the Houses, we also offer a dedicated space for student-led bands to rehearse with guitars, amps, pianos, drums and microphones.