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The Arts

Let me first state a common misconception about the study of the fine arts in a liberal arts high school: the arts are an impractical area of study. In truth, the study of art, theater, dance, music, and film are quite the opposite: they are the study of action and results. In personal and practical ways, arts students are the best at starting with “nothing” (an idea) and ending with “something” (a final product, an expressed thought, an intricately manufactured cinematic expression). And since all art students at Pacifica experience public production of this “something,” they are also engaging in a dialogue with a greater community.

I can think of no greater training for young people than to be responsible with the execution of their ideas into a tangible result. Coupled with the requirement of creativity and individual point of view, the arts are the perfect arena for galvanizing characteristics of empathy, political engagement, and interpersonal maturity. On top of all this, Pacifica artists are grounded in joy, a by-product of creativity within a safe environment.

The Visual and Performing Arts Department at Pacifica prides itself on setting unrealistic goals that—over time—seem routine. On any given day, you can ask an arts student what they did in the arts last year and they will tell you, “I didn’t think it could possibly come together, and then… it did!”  (If you want some examples, click here)

High school arts may still be thought of by many as “a charming activity for kids”—and an easily expendable one at that—but not at Pacifica. We are committed to the growth of passion and appreciation for the arts as it applies to our students. Here at Pacifica, we have witnessed the arts instill profound lessons about life, culture, politics, religion, love, and humanity in life changing ways. Here, we believe that if students are permitted to engage with our faculty in the full range of the modern art landscape—teenagers are better prepared to enter the adult world as inspired and responsible creators and not simply consumers.

I invite you to witness this process this year and in the years to come.

Michael Balsley

Director of the Visual and Performing Arts


FALL PLAY           

Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman

SHOW DATES-                   Nov 13-15

LOCATION-                         Pacifica Auditorium

Mary Zimmerman’s play Metamorphoses is based on Ovid’s fifteen-volume work of transformation myths. Positioned in and around a rectangular pool on the stage, the characters enact Zimmerman’s adaptations of Ovid’s tales, juxtaposing the ancient and the contemporary in both language and image. The tone of the drama likewise echoes the themes of change and contrast, from the humor of Phaeton’s therapy session to the tragedy of Midas and his daughter. Various productions of this play have been awarded five Los Angeles Drama Critics Awards, the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work/Adaptation and several Bay Area Theatre Critics Awards including Best Production. Metamorphoses played around the United States and Off Broadway before moving to Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre in March 2002.



SHOW DATE-                      Jan 3, 7:00pm

LOCATION-                         The Broad Stage

An Encore Concert event of the decade, PACARTS alumni return to Santa Monica to perform in a one-day concert highlighting past songs performed over the first ten years of Pacifica’s arts program. Over thirty students will perform on the beautiful Broad Concert Hall’s stage, with over a dozen music and dance numbers. Event proceeds go towards fundraising for arts program.



SHOW DATES-                   February 11-16

LOCATION-                         Santa Monica Art Studios, across from SM Airport

The Studio Art program’s highlight event, PACARTS partners with the Santa Monica Art Studios to produce a one week gallery show of the best new work from AP Studio Art, Drawing and Painting, Mixed Media, and Photography classes. A mix of 2D, multi media, and installation art work, the Winter Art Gallery attracts a diverse crowd of parents, students, and local artists while emphasizing engagement with the rich professional art scene of Los Angeles.



SHOW DATES-                   February 26-27

LOCATION-                         Aero Theater, Montana Ave, Santa Monica

Since 2008, the Screen Student Film Festival has screened the top student films from across Southern California. Making its home at the historic Aero Theater, in partnership with the LMU School of Film and Television, Screen introduces Pacifica students to successful Directors, Producers, Production Designers, Writers, Actors, and Cinematographers though workshops and guest lectures. Produced by Pacifica film students, Screen receives hundreds of submissions annually and hosts students and faculty from the top high school film programs in California.



Urinetown by Greg Kotis

LOCATION-                         Pacifica Auditorium                           

SHOW DATES-                   March 11-12, 17-19 7:30 pm, March 13 3:00pm

In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity’s most basic needs. From the oppressed people, a hero rises up and sparks a revolution to lead them to freedom. However, without the regulation of an oppressive government and exploitative company, environmental catastrophe ensues, threatening everyone’s survival. Inspired by the works of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, Urinetown is a funny, smart show that has redefined and reinvigorated the American musical.

Age Recommendation – 12+



LOCATION-                         Pacifica Auditorium                           

SHOW DATES-                   May 26-28, 7:37 pm

For ten years, i.SIght has represented the best of all the arts in an end-of-year festival highlighting art, dance, music, theater, spoken word, and more. A gallery of student work fills the school, followed by a collaborative performance combining all-original student performances. One of the largest events in the Pacifica calendar year, over 70% of the student body typically takes part in this annual tradition.


Pacifica Arts

Michael Balsley

There can be no bravery without fear, and there can be no discovery without rigorous inquiry. We welcome the fearful to become bold. We welcome the confident to become inquisitive. We are excited to welcome a new class of artists to our department every year. For more information on how you can be a part of the arts at Pacifica, please email me anytime!

Michael Balsley
Director of Visual & Performing Arts

B.A. English/Theatre Arts, Illinois Wesleyan University
M.A. Fine Arts, New York University

T: 310.828.7015 ext. 13

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