Historical arts

When young people discover new ways of expressing themselves, develop eyes and ears for new kinds of beauty, and imagine ways of living that are different from their own, their minds grow! One of the best ways to encounter history is to bring ages-old arts and pastimes to life.

At SHAK, we explore the European Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras, and America’s Colonial and Revolutionary periods, through original music, drama, and other arts of these times. We understand the European artistic heritage to be just one facet of the bright multicultural world we live in today. Many of our programs focus on underrepresented voices, including the lives of women and cultural minorities. Although SHAK’s directors are passionate about the details that bring the past to life, our approach is often playful and adventurous. All of our work is about making something beautiful together in the present.

Our directors choose the most engaging material for young people – delightful melodies, satisfying stories, and in our theatrical programs, sometimes a little dancing or sword-fighting too! Our students learn directly from professional performers, recreating the actual sights and sounds that people found beautiful in the 13th through mid-18th centuries. We experience a taste of what everyday life was like in times before the Industrial Revolution – back when people made everything by hand and shared it in person.

Our community

Most of SHAK’s programs establish a “one-room-schoolhouse” atmosphere -- a mix of ages, skills, and backgrounds, in which students work together as real individuals. Rather than competing within a single skill plane, SHAK kids respect each other’s varied contributions. Our approach engages the whole person, as we combine multiple art forms and connect concrete performing skills with big ideas about history. Participants find an amazing group of peers who arrive eager to learn and who bring a growing sense of ownership to their work, taking pride and delight in delving into sophisticated artistic material together.

Our community extends to the professionals who work with our students, and to the audience too -- that means you! Join us at our next public performance.

Opportunities for every age

2020 update: Everything is different now and, like you, SHAK is greeting our new realities with creativity. Visit our Enroll pages to join us online!

SHAK grows with you! All ages are invited to join us in the audience, from babies and young children to adult fans of historical arts. And we have participation opportunities for age 6 to 18:

Elementary school: Explore with us

Share the fun of discovery! No special background is required for most of our workshops (age 6-12) and performing programs in drama and singing (age 7 through teen). Students who play instruments have special opportunities to contribute (usually age 9+ with two or more years of instruction).

Middle school: Discover your strengths

Young teens and preteens enjoy each other's like-minded company and begin to shine as instrumentalists, actors, and singers. Whether newcomers or experienced performers, students at this level are beginning to go deeper -- applying what they know in new ways and identifying their specific interests and strengths.

High school: Share your skills

Experienced singers, actors, and instrumentalists may work together on advanced material, serve as guest soloists, or fill lead roles in mixed-age productions. We love seeing these young people take on real creative responsibility, and we often work together with them and sometimes their teachers to find the material that's the best fit. Most of our programs for older teens are by invitation or audition, enrolling students who are studying their chosen art form year-round (usually in regular weekly voice or instrument lessons).