Walnut Hill School for the Arts

January Projects 2020: A Month of Learning & Exploration

January 17, 2020

Upon the return from Winter Break, each arts department launches its own special “January Project”, as an opportunity for our young artists to delve deeper into a specific topic, work, or medium. Each department took the time to share what their students worked on during these monthlong endeavors.

Writing, Film & Media Arts

Script to Screen WFMA

Titled Script to Screen, the WFMA January Project is a department-wide collaborative project in which students work in small teams to write, shoot, and edit original films, all within a three-week period after Winter Break. These films are screened at an all-School Assembly at the end of January. This intensive project is guided by Walnut Hill’s motto, Non Nobis Solum, and the School’s Core Values: Creativity, Growth, Community, Respect, and Excellence. Now in its fourth year, this iteration includes, for the first time, several Walnut Hill faculty and staff members acting in the films and the addition of each film being given a small budget to manage. Watch all this year's films here.


Jimmy Fowlie Improv Class

Students had the opportunity to work with Jimmy Fowlie ’04, a graduate of our Theater Department who received a B.F.A. in acting from the University of Southern California. In addition to being an actor and a writer, Jimmy teaches improvisation at the Groundlings Theatre School in Los Angeles and will work with all Walnut Hill Theater majors on their improv skills.

Jimmy has appeared on TV shows such as Comedy Central’s The Other Two, CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, and HBO’s The Comeback. His one-man show So Long Boulder City, based on the movie La La Land, had a five-month run in L.A. before moving to NYC for an Off-Broadway run. Jimmy is best known for writing, producing, and starring in his own award-winning web series, Go-Go Boy Interrupted, which had over six million views and was optioned by Warner Bros. Studios. We are looking forward to welcoming Jimmy to campus this week!


January Project Considering Matthew Shepard

The Music Department’s 2020 January Project focuses on Craig Hella Johnson's powerful work for chorus and ensemble, Considering Matthew Shepard. For the first time this year, we presented a concert not only at Walnut Hill but also at New England Conservatory’s Brown Hall. This project celebrates our vital partnership with NEC, both through our performance and through our collaboration with conductor Erica Washburn, Director of Choral Activities at NEC and the Youth Chorale at NEC Prep. Considering Matthew Shepard has received nationwide attention for its dramatic and affecting reflection on the 1998 brutal murder of a young gay man in Wyoming that led to an ongoing national conversation about gay rights in the United States. Related workshops include presentations by LGBT activists Cathy Renna and Lesléa Newman, who went to Wyoming immediately following the murder and remain intimately connected with Matthew Shepard's legacy. In addition, our new Walnut Hill String Orchestra will perform Edward Elgar's Introduction and Allegro with special guests, the Grammy Award-winning Parker String Quartet (including cellist Kee-Hyun Kim, a 2001 Walnut Hill alumnus), who are currently serving as the Barlow Quartet-in-Residence at Harvard University.

Visual Art

Miru Shim Visual Art

Visual Art majors worked with Miru Shim '10, who arrived on campus recently to present her workshop, "Digital Storytelling". Students learned how to incorporate digital and physical tools, such as green screen effects and editing apps, to create short videos with compelling stories. The workshop encourages students to understand the process of video making from storyboarding, making props, shooting, and editing. Miru studied at Rhode Island School of Design and recently spent time as a toy designer for Hasbro. We are beyond thrilled to have her back at Walnut Hill, and we know our visual artists will greatly benefit from working with her.


Ruka White January Project Dance

Earlier in January, we welcomed to campus Ruka Hatua-Saar White, who worked with the entire Dance Department in two distinct processes: creating a work for our Spring Repertory performance in April, as well as an informal work with a larger group of dancers. Ruka was born in Italy and trained at Miami City Ballet, Florida State University, and Hollins University. In addition to appearing in commercials and live performances alongside such artists as Maya Angelou and Missy Elliott, he has danced professionally with Ballethnic Contemporary Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, PHILADANCO!, Armitage Gone!, and the acclaimed Limón Dance Company. He also teaches at Tufts University and Boston Conservatory, recently choreographed the musical Choir Boy at SpeakEasy Stage Company, and will be directing a new summer intensive in Commercial Dance.

As Ruka’s choreography is infused with Graham and Limón techniques, our students were introduced to the fundamental elements of a codified modern dance language. Through this project, they became immersed in a unique experience of learning through close interaction with a professional working artist who is at the crossroads of performance, creation, and higher education. Our community welcomed the opportunity to converse not only about modern dance pioneers, but about the historical influence of black dance and culture in dance today.


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