CalArts hosts summer school for high school students

California State Summer School for the Arts students rehearse a dance at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

High school students from across the country traveled to CalArts to participate in the California State Summer School for the Arts, which started July 7 and runs until Aug. 3.

For a majority of the past 32 summers, Grants Manager Julie Zovak said, Santa Clarita’s California Institute of the Arts has hosted the program in an effort to offer a talented group of high school students the opportunity to receive intensive training from professionals in music, theater, film, visual arts, dance, creative writing and animation.

The program is four weeks of exploration, discovery and hard work designed to unleash students’ creative power, according to its website. “(The) purpose is to provide a training ground for future artists who wish to pursue careers in the visual, digital and performing arts in California.”

For four whole weeks, students live on campus and attend classes as if they were university students, Zovak said. Each of CSSSA’s seven programs follow different daily schedules that run from morning to night.

During the day, students study theories and techniques, receive training from teachers and guest lecturers, learn lessons in studio classes and forums, and attend concerts and screenings, Zovak said. In the evenings, they attend workshops presented by international guest artists.

On Thursday, CSSSA hosted BODYTRAFFIC Dance Theatre, providing students the opportunity to witness professionals performing the craft that they themselves hope to one day perfect.

In addition to the theater performances, Zovak said a full schedule of recreational opportunities is available, including optional field trips to California attractions such as Disneyland, the Getty Museum and the Los Angeles Music Center.

When students complete CSSSA, they leave with access to new skills, techniques, ideas and training, said Jeanette Fantone, an alum of CSSSA. Students also often realize for the first time that they have a place in artistic world.

“When I came to CSSSA I had no idea what I was doing,” Fantone said. “You go through the special sauce and you experience the magic that is CSSSA and when you come out you’re profoundly confident and you have so much purpose in your life.”

Like Fantone, many students feel that CSSSA is transformative because it creates an artistic environment where they feel comfortable taking risks, thinking critically and exploring new disciplines.

Students also receive three units of college extension credit from the California State University system for successful completion of the summer session.

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