A special and intangible magic transpires on the beautiful campus of Interlochen Arts Academy, nestled between two pristine lakes and surrounded by quiet pines in northwest Michigan. A true artist’s retreat, Interlochen Arts Academy invites grades 9-12 and postgraduate students for arts education programs designed to hone their skills and nurture their humanity.
The depth and breadth of their offerings is unmatched, and the community transcends backgrounds and beliefs, borders and barriers.
“At Interlochen, generations of artists and arts enthusiasts are united through the universal language of the arts,” says Camille Colatosti, Provost at Interlochen Center for the Arts.
The United States’ Premier Boarding Arts High School
In 1962, Interlochen Arts Academy opened its doors as the United States’ first independent boarding school for the arts, and over the years has cemented their standing as the top U.S. boarding arts high school. Students pursue pre-professional training in their chosen artistic discipline alongside a robust academic curriculum, preparing them to excel in the arts and beyond.
“Our academic curriculum merges seamlessly with our rigorous artistic training. Academic instructors encourage students to discover the connections between creativity and intellect by incorporating the arts into their lessons. Faculty in all fields collaborate to help students maintain a healthy balance,” explains Colatosti.
Interlochen Arts Academy students major in one of seven arts disciplines:
The Creative Writing major nurtures young writers’ talent, stimulates their imagination, and broadens their command of the writer’s craft. Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction workshops form the core of the program, and students also engage in a variety of electives. Proficiency in a broad range of genres builds versatility and control, preparing students for the rigors of college-level work as well as publication. Through individualized mentorship and intensive workshops, students develop an awareness of their strengths and challenges, while expanding their patience and self-discipline. Students leave the program with a portfolio of carefully revised work in a variety of genres.
The Dance major offers pre-professional training to instill the discipline and skill necessary to pursue dance at premier higher education programs and as a career. Academy dancers study both classical and contemporary dance. Students spend three to five hours per day in classes such as classical ballet technique, pointe, pas de deux, character dance, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, and other genres. The program places a strong emphasis on rehearsing for public performances.
Academy dancers have regular opportunities to audition for college and university programs, professional companies, and summer intensives.
The Dance Division consults with academic faculty and support services to provide for the unique educational, emotional, and physical needs of young dancers. Specialists in nutritional counseling, dance medicine, and related arts fields work closely with dance faculty and students to encourage healthy and safe practices.
Film & New Media
In the Film & New Media major, students learn the art and craft of storytelling and multimedia production through critical studies and hands-on experience. The curriculum guides students through progressive, interdisciplinary, and collaborative courses in digital video, screenwriting, film history, and related arts. Students also have the opportunity to explore game design, animation, and new media creation. Screenwriting workshops help students develop storytelling skills and learn the narrative structure of a film. Production classes explore the visual and aural aspects of filmmaking, such as cinematography, lighting, music, sound, directing, and editing. Electives from other arts majors expand students’ appreciation of the components that make up a film. Students graduate with strong experience in writing, producing, directing, and editing their own projects.
The Interdisciplinary Arts major attracts young artists with skills and interests in multiple artistic disciplines. With a curriculum designed to accommodate exploration across arts areas, students participate in a daily studio class as well as core classes in contemporary arts performance and culture, arts leadership/management, and portfolio development. Independent studies, collaborative projects, individual studio time, arts electives, and guest artist instruction are also key components of the Interdisciplinary Arts major. Students may choose to participate in the Interdisciplinary Performance Collaboration, a year-long course open to all majors and grade levels that culminates in an original presentation in the spring. Through an innovative curriculum, interdisciplinary arts students pursue their individual artistic interests and develop vital leadership skills while cultivating a uniquely informed passion for the arts.
The classical music program, which offers a choice of performance and composition tracks,
prepares students for the rigors of study at the university and conservatory level. Advanced music theory classes and weekly private lessons prepare students to put their skills into practice in a variety of ensembles, including orchestra, wind symphony, chamber singers, choir, brass choir, and more. These ensembles have a global reputation for excellence, serving as reading ensembles for composition students and enabling performance students to develop concert experience and sight-reading skills, as well as knowledge of a diverse and challenging repertoire.
The contemporary music program imparts the skills aspiring musicians need to thrive in the commercial music industry. Students pursue a well-rounded curriculum that provides instruction in both the technical and business aspects of life as a contemporary musician. Students can choose from several tracks, including popular performance, jazz performance, and singer-songwriter.
Music production & engineering students work directly and collaboratively with artists, composers, songwriters, musicians, and other engineers, designers, and producers to create high-quality recording and technology projects in a professional production environment. Students explore current practices and innovations in music technology, using digital audio workstations including Pro Tools, Ableton, and Logic. They learn electronic musicianship, music production, and key aspects of recording and production—from recording session set-up and microphone placement to signal flow and mix-down. Additionally, students master professional studio protocol and develop critical listening skills, as well as the aesthetic, communication, and organizational competencies vital to successful producers and engineers.
The Theatre major challenges students to develop both individually and within an ensemble. Students can focus their studies in acting, musical theatre, or design and production, while gaining exposure in all mediums.
Acting at Interlochen is Stanislavski-based with a focus on inner truth. Students explore a wide range of genres, including classical text, acting for the camera, and contemporary theatre, in addition to audition preparation.
The musical theatre track focuses on acting, with expanded skill development in singing, movement, and sequential dance training.
The design and production concentration enables students to perceive, visualize, and realize practical designs for the theatre. The track offers pre-professional training in multiple aspects of technical theatre, including scenic, lighting, costume, and sound design.
The Visual Arts major develops a young artist’s technical and conceptual abilities through an integrated curriculum that fosters connections between disciplines and media. By encouraging creative practices, such as flexible thinking, inquisitiveness, and perseverance, the Academy program lays the foundation for a deeper understanding of arts and innovation. Students develop advanced technical skills in multi-dimensional forms through daily study and practice of diverse media including painting, sculpting, printmaking, digital arts, and more. Regular critiques refine personal vision within a tight-knit artistic community. Visual artists at Interlochen gain the confidence and empathy to develop as citizen artists and leaders.
“All of our majors allow our students to customize their course load to suit their talents, interests, and professional goals,” explains Colatosti. “Small class sizes and a low student-to-faculty ratio ensure each student receives one-on-one instruction and mentorship. In addition, our faculty and counselors meet regularly with students to discuss their goals and develop an individualized curricular plan to prepare them for their next steps.”
Opportunities for multidisciplinary study and collaboration abound. Academy students are encouraged to explore elective classes, enroll in interdisciplinary coursework, and collaborate with fellow students—both inside and outside the classroom. Recent interdisciplinary collaborations have premiered at Carnegie Hall and National Sawdust in New York City and the
New World Center in Miami. In 2023, Interlochen Arts Academy students will perform side-by-side with world-class New York Philharmonic musicians in the newly renovated David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.
A Community That Fosters Creativity
“There is no better place to grow and thrive as a young artist than Interlochen Arts Academy,” states Colatosti.
At Interlochen Arts Academy, students live in a community that fosters constant creativity and collaboration. Inspired by the natural beauty of the campus and invigorated by the state-of-the-art facilities, they live and learn alongside classmates who both challenge and support each other—and in turn, become lifelong friends.
At Interlochen, students find everything they need to master their craft: from superior equipment and resources to personalized instruction from artists who excel in their fields.
“Our students come from different cultures and educational backgrounds, from all over the county and all around the world, sharing one essential quality: a passion for the arts,” explains Colatosti. “They practice, perfect, and perform their art constantly, while supporting and encouraging each other.”
In addition to world-class artistic training, Interlochen Arts Academy students engage in an accelerated college-preparatory academic program that prepares them for success in any field.
“Our co-curricular approach emphasizes the connections between art and academics, encouraging students to think critically and creatively about problems in the classroom and beyond,” says Colatosti.
Through the lens of the arts, students gain a deeper appreciation for academic subjects and prepare for the rigors of the world’s most competitive colleges and universities. In addition, Interlochen Arts Academy students can get a head start on college coursework through a partnership with Indiana University’s Advance College Project. Classes are taught face-to-face by Interlochen faculty certified by Indiana University.
“This concurrent enrollment program fulfills high school graduation requirements and provides college credits accepted at most colleges and universities,” explains Colatosti.
The Interlochen 5
According to Colatosti, the Interlochen Arts Academy experience is deeply formative.
“Social and emotional growth, academic achievement, and artistic opportunity combine here to help our students thrive now and in the future. In today’s rapidly changing world, the skills, perspectives, and capacities developed here are enduring,” she says. “The Interlochen 5 lay the foundation for life—both within and beyond the arts.”
The Interlochen 5 are:
Mindfulness, Wellness, and Resilience
“Artists require a balance of focus and freedom,” says Colatosti.
The life of an artist can be challenging and is frequently on public display, requiring high levels of tenacity and resilience.
“Our students develop skills in mindfulness, wellness, and resilience as a result of our unique programming,” says Colatosti.
Creative capacity is honed at Interlochen by studying the creative process across the Academy’s arts disciplines. Students master the underlying principles of creativity and design thinking, and learn to apply this mindset to all aspects of their lives.
Interdisciplinary Perspective and Collaboration
“Effective collaboration draws the best from each individual to achieve something no one person can accomplish on their own,” explains Colatosti.
At Interlochen, drawing connections across artistic disciplines and other fields of discovery becomes the basis for breakthrough ideas.
Global and Cultural Perspective
Global art and global issues are central to the Academy experience.
“On our diverse and international campus, students develop a deeper and more direct understanding of different cultures and experiences, thus developing the character and empathy to thrive in an interconnected world,” says Colatosti.
Community and Citizen Artistry
“Community is at the heart of Interlochen Arts Academy,” says Colatosti.
At Interlochen, citizen artistry extends this concept as students develop, present, and teach art in service to others.
“We ask our students to take an active role in building a healthy community here, laying the foundation for a lifetime of rewarding and purposeful engagement,” says Colatosti.
World-Renowned Faculty and Treasured Mentors
An important part of that community is the faculty.
“Our phenomenal faculty and staff are committed to the students they serve and the mission they model. They set a high bar not only for artistic excellence but also for effective mentorship and embrace their role as inspirations to the next generation of creative changemakers,” says Colatosti.
Many faculty are practicing artists themselves—members of the Academy faculty have played in major orchestras, danced in professional companies, published books, performed on Broadway, exhibited works in prestigious galleries, and screened films at noted festivals.
Beyond Interlochen, the faculty maintain busy schedules as artists, educators, and clinicians. Arts Academy faculty are frequently invited to adjudicate competitions, teach master classes, conduct ensembles, and set repertoire. Many are active members of professional organizations such as the International Double Reed Society, the Actors’ Equity Association, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and the Screen Actors’ Guild, among many others. Music faculty frequently appear as substitutes with major orchestras, perform solo and small ensemble recitals, and record albums; Arts Academy Orchestra Conductor Leslie Dunner recently conducted the world premiere of Anthony Davis’ Pulitzer Prize-winning opera The Central Park Five, and will lead two performances as part of the New York Philharmonic’s Liberation Festival in March 2023. Several instructors are also on the faculty at colleges, conservatories, and universities across the United States.
Arts Academy faculty frequently attend and present at conferences across the country. Faculty also participate in regular on-campus “development days” that feature sessions on pedagogy, technology, and other applicable topics presented by their colleagues.
A 6:1 student-faculty ratio enables meaningful connection and one-on-guidance, with faculty members often becoming treasured mentors for life.
Parents: An Integral Part of Interlochen
Parents are also important members of the Interlochen community. A positive and constructive partnership between the Academy and a student’s parents and family is essential to the fulfillment of the Academy’s mission.
“We include parents throughout the school year, with online access to grades and class activities, Family Weekend, an open campus to families, and virtual programming offered by our Education Office,” explains Colatosti.
According to Colatosti, parents not only stay connected to their students through regular communication, they also receive a weekly Academy newsletter informing them of updates, performances, announcements, and other relevant information across campus and throughout the year. Parents have multiple opportunities to visit campus or stay tuned in with live broadcasts of student performances.
Opportunities for Fun, Friendship, and Personal Growth
What happens inside the classrooms, studios, and rehearsal spaces is just part of the Interlochen Arts Academy experience.
“Outside of academic and artistic commitments, students have abundant opportunities for fun, friendship, and personal growth,” says Colatosti.
At Interlochen, boarding students live in dual-occupancy rooms in one of eight residence halls. Residence Life instructors provide around-the-clock support and foster community within their hall through regular social events and activities in addition to collaborating closely with advisors to lead the Academy’s social-emotional learning program.
A recreation team curates a variety of structured and student-led activities. The Dennison Center serves as the hub for many of these activities, such as rock climbing, movie nights, and Super Bowl parties. Annual traditions include an end-of-the-year carnival; MORP, Interlochen’s answer to prom; and much more.
For students who strive to excel on the field or the court, Interlochen Arts Academy sponsors four school sports: basketball, volleyball, cross country, and lacrosse. In addition, students can enjoy intramural competition in ultimate frisbee, soccer, tennis, and badminton. Interlochen’s campus has ample space for almost any kind of sport: kickball, dodgeball, and other games provide opportunities for all students to participate in a fun and positive environment.
Clubs and organizations provide an opportunity for students to bond with peers outside their major and explore other areas of interest. Some of the most popular clubs have included the Black Student Union, the Young Feminists Club, the Interlochen Book Club, the Student Sustainability Club, the Traditional Chinese Art Club, Model UN, Stilt Walking, and the Interlochen Podcast Cooperative, among others. Students are also welcome to form their own clubs, groups, or organizations.
Life After Interlochen
After Interlochen, our students lead meaningful lives in the arts and beyond,” says Colatosti. ”Students graduate from Interlochen with more than a high school diploma and honed artistic skills—they also carry the values of dedication, resilience, independence, and collaboration as they embark on their next chapter.”
After Interlochen, most students choose to continue their studies at some of the world’s most prestigious colleges, universities, and conservatories. Recent graduates have enrolled at Harvard University, The Juilliard School, Columbia University, Eastman School of Music, Berklee College of Music, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Rhode Island School of Design, and other acclaimed institutions. Annually, a majority of graduates are accepted into one of their top three college choices and earn more than $35 million in scholarships.
Graduates of Interlochen also join a tight-knit network of exceptional alumni working and learning in a wide range of fields.
Interlochen alumni hold seats in all of the country’s major orchestras; star regularly in Broadway productions; appear at the top of the New York Times’ best-sellers list; dance in prestigious companies; and collaborate behind the scenes of feature films. They can also be found practicing medicine and law, managing NASA’s heliophysics division, and teaching in classrooms across the globe.
Some notable Interlochen Arts Academy alumni include:
- Brittany Cavallaro – New York Times best-selling author, Charlotte Holmes series
- Elaine Douvas – Principal Oboist, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
- Janet Eilber – Artistic Director, Martha Graham Dance Company
- Peter Erskine – Grammy Award-winning jazz drummer
- Holly Gilbert – Director, High Altitude Observatory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
- Steve Hayden – Former Vice-Chair and Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy Worldwide
- Fred Hiebert – Archeologist-in-residence, National Geographic
- Jewel – Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter
- Anthony McGill – Principal Clarinetist, New York Philharmonic
- Doug Stanton – New York Times best-selling author, In Harm’s Way
- Nathaniel Mary Quinn – Painter
For more info: https://www.interlochen.org/