Performing Arts

At Purnell, every girl finds her own way to shine in the spotlight.

Whether onstage as a dancer, behind a set of drums making music or running lights for a show, you’ll gain confidence—and have fun—as you discover your personal voice, take artistic risks, and embrace performance opportunities.

Courses in music, dance and theatre are tailored for an array of learning styles. We focus on technical skills, creative collaboration, and prepare you to perform for an audience.

For girls who want to study performing arts beyond the classroom, we offer a variety of extra-curricular activities.

Performing Arts Appreciation
At Purnell we understand that the artistic experience also includes viewing a variety of artistic works. Students are given opportunities through class, activities, and weekend offerings to view live performances. Previous trips include American Ballet Theatre, Broadway’s Matilda, RVCC arts Ten Hairy Legs, McCarter Theatre’s Fences, and The New Jersey Symphony.


students in dance classThe Purnell dance experience allows talented, motivated dancers to excel, and encourages beginners and undiscovered dancers to develop their own skills.

During the academic day, you may take one of our many dance offerings ranging from Dance Sampler, which allows students to explore each dance genre at a beginner level, to Ballet, which specializes in the technical foundation, lyricism, and expression one would find at a competitive dance studio. All dance classes encourage the study of choreography, history, and application of the course topic. In addition, you’ll travel to see a dance performance, and perform in our Performing Arts Showcase.

Beyond the classroom
Dance Synthesis
is Purnell’s auditioned dance ensemble. The goals of the ensemble are to develop and maintain a technical dance foundation, treat their bodies with respect and proper alignment, and explore a wide scope of dance backgrounds including ballet, tap, contemporary, modern, jazz, and world dances. As performers, the members of Dance Synthesis perform on the Carney Center stage for Family Weekends, Winter and Spring Performing Arts Nights. Company members compete in the Spring at a New Jersey dance competition. In addition, Dance Synthesis participates and performs in dance workshops throughout New York and New Jersey, and Somerset County's Teen Arts Festival every spring.


students acting on stage in theatre

The process of creating theatre at Purnell allows for both the experienced actress and shy student to create and express both onstage and off.

Within all academic components of the theatre program, you’ll read and discuss plays and playwrights, and see live theatre in venues such as McCarter Theatre, Broadway, and New Jersey's Shakespeare Company. At the end of each semester, you’ll perform anything from a standard scene study to an original one-act play during Performing Arts Showcase. A variety of courses are offered on a rotating schedule and include Acting, Improvisation, Survey of Performing Arts (9th grade), Behind the Scenes, and even Makeup Design.

During Project Exploration students in the performing arts are able to participate in an immersive, full-length musical production experience. In less than three weeks of rehearsal students work on all aspects of the production and perform for family, friends, and the community over a three-day period. Previous musicals include Fame Jr., On Your Toes, Thoroughly Modern Mille Jr., and original musicals written by Purnell faculty entitled Bugz: The Buzzical.

Beyond the classroom
Technical Theatre is available to any student who has a strong desire in learning the backstage process of theatre. Here you’ll learn the importance of stage management, how to operate a professional sound and lighting board, theatre etiquette, and help construct and paint sets for future productions.

Members of our auditioned Adlibber's Acting Troupe perform a variety of material ranging from comedy to drama, selected scenes, one-acts plays, and even a full-length production. In addition, Adlibbers participates each year in New Jersey Teen Arts Festival. We’re proud to be recognized each year for our creativity, superb acting, and high-energy performances.