Talent Unlimited High School is a public high school of the performing arts located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City.
Talent Unlimited provides an unparalleled academic education to an incredibly diverse student body from all five boroughs of New York City. The school started as a pilot program in January 1973. Students took academic courses at their home high schools and attended Talent Unlimited in the afternoons. The director of the program was John Motley, conductor of the All City High School Chorus. The music teaching staff included Arlene Lieberman, Robert Vitale, H. L. Smith, II, Camilla Williams and Fred Norman. This first class performed at Gracie Mansion for Mayor John V. Lindsay and Marian Anderson.
It is within the Julia Richman Education Complex along with the schools: Urban Academy, Vanguard High School, P226M Junior High Annex, Ella Baker School, and Manhattan International High School.
Visit Talent Unlimited High School and you might hear the chorus singing a finger-snapping version of the jazzy tune "Get Happy." Wander into a drama class and you'll find kids waving their arms or crawling on all fours in skits. Leotard-clad dancers leap across the auditorium stage. Everywhere you go in this small school, kids seem jazzed up, happy, and self-assured. Talent Unlimited admits students after an audition, but it balances a strong performing arts program with engaging academics.
Talent Unlimited is noteworthy for its successful pairing of arts and academics, as well as its budding ability to get teachers to work together. In the past people would close their doors while teaching, the principal said, but now doors are open and teachers collaborate. For example, American history students studying injustice went to see "The Exonerated," a play about six innocent survivors of death row. Freshman students performed in a production of Sophocles' Antigone and also studied ancient Greece in global history class.
Between English and theater teachers included representatives from Epic Theatre Center, an off-Broadway theatre company, which helps the school develop its curriculum. The group discussed ways to better coordinate the arts and the academic curriculum. One teacher suggested having kids dramatize vocabulary from the "word walls" vocabulary lists in English class. Another mentioned a play students were reading, "I Never Saw Another Butterfly," which takes place in a concentration camp. Teachers realized the drama has ties to the Nazi-era backdrop of Cabaret, which the music theater class was producing. "That's a perfect correlation," one exclaimed. "I could use some guidelines too - some of this stuff is very graphic," another said.
Students may take Advanced Placement courses at Hunter College through the College Now program, and they are encouraged to petition the administration for adding sports teams or clubs. That's how a debate team got started.
Students get two periods of instruction daily in their majors: drama, musical theater, instrumental music, vocal music, or dance, with the biggest number enrolled in drama and dance. The best dancers spend three hours a day at the Ballet Hispanico dance company during their junior and senior years, and some actually join that group.
Talent Unlimited, with its own entrance, shares space with other small schools in the Julia Richman Educational Complex, a beautifully renovated building with a swimming pool, a pleasant library, a health clinic, and a childcare center for the children of students.The school auditions students for instrumental talent, musical theater, drama, vocal, and dance.
Talent Unlimited continues to do so today as students follow a daily schedule of academic work and intensive performing arts instruction, both in the school and at professional studios. The school has received an "A" rating and been awarded a top 25 school in New York City (NY Post, 2009). The school has a 94% graduation rate. It has been noted that this school is extremely creative in the way that they combine their arts programs with the academic programs to make it more intriguing for students. Talent Unlimited has not been around for a very long time therefore there are not many Notable Alumni but this school has "extraordinary talent" -says Epic Theatre Ensemble. Epic Theatre Ensemble is a Off-Broadway Theatre company that is partnered with Talent Unlimited.