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  • Actor Cameron Dean Speaks About His Time at New York Film Academy Australia


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    Cameron Dean completed the Acting for Film program offered at New York Film Academy’s Gold Coast campus and has since relocated to Vancouver, Canada. He has worked on a number of projects including Kong: Skull Island and Thor: Ragnarok in Australia, as well as the latest campaign for Lamborghini, shot in Vancouver.

    Speaking of his experience at New York Film Academy (NYFA) Australia, Dean stated he most enjoyed “how interactive and hands on it was” and how It offered him the opportunity “to create and express myself in a safe environment with other like-minded individuals.”

    Dean continued, “The lecturers at NYFA were always helpful and professional; their guidance throughout my entire journey was a step above, and I am where I am today because they brought out the best in me.”

    “When you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life,” he added. “When I was at NYFA it never felt like work, whether I had a 1200-word essay to hand in or doing research for a character, it was all just fun because it’s a part of being an actor. Finding answers and bringing a character to life and giving him or her the voice is what makes this job beautiful.”Cameron Dean

    Dean spent time on the sets for both Kong: Skull Island and Thor: Ragnarok while still a student of the Acting for Film program, allowing him “to get firsthand training on big production sets with A-List actors.” He credits NYFA for preparing him for the film industry by “stripping away my inhibitions which held me back from expressing myself creatively. NYFA set me up with the necessary tools to confidently break down a script, add depth and layers to a character, and take an organic performance into the audition room or on screen.”

    With plans to stay on in Canada, Dean hopes to sustain his career as a working actor and explore stunt performance for action films. “Things I want to achieve as an actor are to play a lead in an action film and do a lot of my own stunt work, for example a John Wick or a Jason Bourne style film.” Dean keeps himself motivated with boxing to increase his fitness and gather skills for the action film genre, and has also started writing him own material.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Cameron Dean and wishes him continued success!

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    August 6, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 570

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Jordan Abbey-Young Finishes Feature Film Shoot

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film graduate Jordan Abbey-Young is living the Aussie dream – originally a boy from the bush, he recently finished shooting on the feature film Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan. The Vietnam War drama was filmed at Village Roadshow Studios on Australia’s Gold Coast, adjacent to the New York Film Academy Australia campus co-located in Southport, Queensland. 

    Abbey-Young plays the role of Private Ron Eglinton alongside stars Richard Roxburgh and Travis Fimmel, best known for playing Ragnar on the History Channel’s original series Vikings.

    Abbey-Young stated that NYFA provided “an environment where you could build that personal network of like-minded people all there for a common goal. In this industry you’re nothing without each other, and the relationships NYFA gave me (good and bad, not everyone gets along), have done nothing but propel me as a person and as an all-round creative individual.”Jordan Abbey-Young

    In preparing for entering the industry after completing his training, Abbey-Young says that his teachers “were very realistic people who got on the level with you. That more personable aspect is a huge benefit to NYFA, I feel. It’s a hard industry and having the people teaching you giving you that blunt reality at the same time, it makes you take things on board a lot more if you’re serious about giving it a go.”

    He continued, “My motto has always been ‘Live Life Like A Movie’, so I’ve always had a very internal and a very narrated perspective of my life like it was being filmed.”

    Along with his role in Danger Close, Abbey-Young will appear in another feature titled The Last Video Store. “It’s comprised of a lot of NYFA family from graduated actors, to filmmakers and lecturers, which has been really fun,” he added. As for his future, “I’ll probably go back to robbing banks and doing auditions,” he joked. “Keep an eye out for an eight-part web series entitled Don’t @ Me next year — a very talented lad decided I was worth putting in front of the camera for it.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Jordan Abbey-Young and wishes him continued success!

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    August 6, 2018 • Acting, Entertainment Australia, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 611

  • Q&A With New York Film Academy Alum and The Equalizer 2 Actor Kazy Tauginas

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    Kazy Tauginas is an artist who wears many hats. He’s an actor, having appeared in television shows such as Sneaky Pete, Blindspot, Person of Interest, Turn, Blue Bloods, and Law & Order: SVU, and blockbuster films including John Wick and The Equalizer 2. He’s also a producer and writer, having worked on an award-winning and very personal short film, Standing Eight.

    Tauginas grew up outside of Chicago, and was a restauranteur and Golden Gloves boxer. In 2009, he decided to follow his lifelong passion in writing and acting, and attended the 1-Year Acting for Film Conservatory at the New York Film Academy’s New York City campus. He has been performing steadily since graduating, which isn’t just a testament to his talents. Taguinas is also extremely committed to his art, putting everything he has into every role. “No matter what the project,” he says, “I want to always be the best me I can be.”

    Tauginas can currently be seen in theaters with Denzel Washington in the follow-up to The Equalizer, directed by Antoine Fuqua. He recently spoke with the New York Film Academy about his time on set, his award-winning film Standing Eight, and the continuing experiences that make him the storyteller he is today:

    Kazy Tauginas

    Photo Credit: http://kazytauginas.com

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First off, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Kazy Tauginas (KT): I grew up just outside of Chicago. Attended the University of Delaware for undergrad. After college, I ended up running a 24-hour diner for 4+ years. When my lease was up, and of no fault of my own, I was forced to walk away from the restaurant business. This event brought me to a fork in the road career-wise. I decided to follow my heart and go after my true dream, which was acting and writing. That life-changing decision led me to NYFA, where I graduated from the Acting for Film Conservatory program in August 2009.

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspires you most about this craft, and what stories are you most passionate about telling?

    KT: I’ve always had an affinity for film since I was a child. I can probably trace back most of my notable childhood events to the films that coincided with them that particular year.  I was also an only child, so I had to keep myself entertained. I would create epic adventures for my G.I. Joes. I would run around the backyard pretending I was Indiana Jones. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized I actually enjoyed performing.

    Standing Eight

    Photo Credit: http://kazytauginas.com

    What appeals most to me about acting is the ability to step into the shoes of others. Being able to experience different human emotions and walk away (mostly unscathed). I love creating characters. I love being able to surprise people. When I was younger, I always enjoyed a good action movie. But I feel now, as I’ve matured, I prefer films with strong performances — the genre doesn’t matter. If the performances in the films are rooted in truth, I’m entertained. At the end of the day, I just want to be truthful on screen and take people on an emotional ride.

    NYFA: You’ve recently produced a short film called Standing Eight. Can you talk about this project, and what it took for you to make this film?

    KT: Standing Eight is an award-winning dramatic short film about a professional boxer who is forced to retire and contend with his life outside of the ring after being diagnosed with systemic lupus. It’s a story about a man who is trying to face the fact that he’s been beaten by a disease. The conflict only escalates when his former would-be opponent begins trolling him.

    This project was a labor of love. Through and through. My inspiration came from my mother, who has been fighting Systemic Lupus Nephritis since before I was born. Lupus affects millions of people around the globe, yet so few people even know what the disease actually does to the body. (It’s an autoimmune disease wherein the body’s own immune system attacks healthy organs and tissues.) Louis Peduto, Brian Kazmarck, and I made a hard commitment to work with each other in a Producer, Director, Writer/Actor capacity. I wrote the first draft of the film at the end of 2014. From that point, we went through multiple drafts of the screenplay, two successful Kickstarter campaigns (one for actual production, one for post-production). Principal, post, festival submissions, and finally an incredibly successful indie festival run. The film was an Official Selection at 28 festivals worldwide. We were nominated for 22 various awards. In the end, we took home 11 different festival awards and 4 Honorable Mentions. I think the film is accomplishing what I originally set out to do, which was raise lupus awareness.  Just recently I was contacted by the Lupus Foundation of America, and we’re going to be working together to promote the release of Standing Eight on Amazon.

     

    NYFA: That’s incredible, congratulations. You’re currently co-starring in the Denzel Washington film The Equalizer 2. What was the casting process like for that?

    KT: My manager put together a push. Betty Mae Casting agreed to give me an opportunity, which I was and am eternally grateful for. We sent over a self-tape that same night. A week later I was on a plane to Boston. No callback. Straight off tape. I was told they did visit my website. (So, actors: have a website with all your materials readily available. You never know who’s looking.)

    NYFA: Any fun stories or lessons learned while on set for The Equalizer 2?

    KT: To be honest, the entire shoot was a blast. I was in Boston for almost three months. Shooting the climax was physically challenging, but WORTH EVERY SECOND. I worked incredibly hard with the stunt team to make sure I looked the part. I put in hours of training with the rifle. Huge shoutout to Jeff Dashnaw and Mick Gould. Jeff was the stunt coordinator and put together an incredible team. I’m sure Mick got sick of all my questions at some point, but I’m a perfectionist. I was hellbent on not being the weakest link.

    My favorite moment was definitely when I ad-libbed a bunch of lines and Antoine Fuqua absolutely loved it. He jumped out of the van, grabbed my shirt, and said “That’s what I’m talking about!!!” Having a director of that caliber — especially one who I’ve been a fan of for so many years — to give such positive feedback was overwhelming. It was one of those moments in life that just reaffirms that I’m on the right path.

    Kazy Tauginas and Denzel Washington

    Photo Credit: http://kazytauginas.com

    NYFA: How were your experiences different between Standing Eight and The Equalizer 2?

    KT: On Equalizer, my only function was to act. So it was relatively simple. Everything was laid out for me and all I had to do was bring my A-game. When you’re an actor, I tend to think of myself as one color on the canvas. When you’re a filmmaker, you’re a painter. On Equalizer I was paint. On Standing Eight, I was more of a painter. Standing Eight was a challenge because I had to wear so many different hats. Luckily, by the time we went to principal photography we had ironed out most of the producing and writing kinks, and I was able to concentrate on my performance. So my experience on Standing Eight was more complex. But to be honest, they were both incredibly rewarding, just on different levels.

    NYFA: Was there anything your experiences on Standing Eight and The Equalizer 2 had in common?

    KT: Absolutely. My commitment. Whenever I put my name on anything, I put my heart and soul into it. As an actor, Equalizer was the opportunity of a lifetime and I treated it as such. I felt exactly the same on Standing Eight. I wanted my painting to be perfect. No matter what the project, I want to always be the best me I can be.

    Kazy Tauginas

    Photo Credit: Sony

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work on either Standing Eight or The Equalizer 2?

    KT: What didn’t I use? Everything you learn in acting school becomes applicable at different points in your career.

    NYFA: You’re currently working on the film Invisible Love, produced by NYFA Chair of Broadcast Journalism and Emmy Award-winning Bill Einreinhofer. What was the casting process for Invisible Love?

    KT: [Former NYFA Chair of Acting for Film] Peter Allen Stone and I are connected on social media and he’s been following my journey since I left school. My understanding is that Bill mentioned something to him about the project he was producing and needing talent. Peter threw my name out there. It just worked out splendidly. I auditioned for them. Apparently, I did well, so the offer came in. I love the character they want me to play. I’m really looking forward to working on it.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    KT: I’m currently working on a huge film for a streaming service with an incredibly talented cast. Unfortunately, that’s all I’m allowed to say. Invisible Love is supposed to go into production in the winter. As far as producing, I’m working on putting together a feature film with very similar elements as Standing Eight. It’s my dream to put lupus into mainstream dialogue so we can actually make finding a cure a reality.

    Kazy Tauginas

    Photo Credit: http://kazytauginas.com

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    KT: I have very fond memories of my experiences at NYFA. So I took full advantage of the program while I was there. I think I ended up doing about 50 student films by the time I graduated. I went to every Q&A — got to meet Melissa Leo and Christopher Plummer. I made lifelong friends with some of my classmates and teachers. I really did have wonderful teachers. Lea Brandenburg engrained in my brain that when you’re on camera, you keep it simple. I remember by breakthrough in learning how to cry in Peter Allen Stone’s voice and movement class. Dressing in drag as my activity in Meisner class. I did that because James Price said that “manly men” like me would never do something like drag. Challenge accepted, sir. Bela Grushka was always so encouraging of my work. 

    Our thesis film, which was directed by Victor Verhaeghe, was something my entire class was so proud of. We worked incredibly hard and made phone calls during our lunch break and sent out postcards to every single agent and manager in NYC to invite them to our screening. I really learned so much from that program. I feel like by the time I graduated, I was a different person.

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    KT: Take advantage of everything NYFA has to offer. Go to workshops. Screenings. Talks with industry people. Meet filmmaking students. Meet writing students. Go to class prepared. Study. Shoot. Act. Apply everything you learn while you’re still in school. Find the other people who are as hungry as you are. Let your inhibitions go. LEARN. Be humble. You have to be a sponge to learn. Focus on the task at hand. Become the best you that you can be. 

    In 2009, I fully committed to being a creative. If I can do it, you can do it.

     

    The New York Film Academy thanks Kazy Tauginas for his generous time and thoughtful responses, and congratulates him on his current success. We look forward to seeing what the future brings for Kazy!

    If you are interested in learning Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy, you can find more information on our programs here.

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    July 31, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1199

  • “On the Other Side of the Wall” With Elizabeth Grimaldo

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    Elizabeth Grimaldo was already a household name in her native Panama when she came to study Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy, but since then her career has truly crossed international borders. Now based in Miami, the singer/songwriter and actress recently made her U.S. television debut on Telemundo NBC ’s Al Otro Lado Del Muro, tackling an intense storyline involving immigration, human trafficking, and unbreakable family love.

    Here, Elizabeth shares a bit of her amazing story with the NYFA Blog.

    Feliz Miercoles🌵🤗 📸: @mauricionovoaofficial

    A post shared by Elizabeth Grimaldo 🌻 (@lizagrimaldo) on

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    EG: I’ve been on TV since I was 12 years old as a singer, which is also my profession. It started in a national singing contest for kids (Canta Conmigo), which opened so many doors for my career in Panama. At the age of 15, I started acting in my first soap opera as the main character, and it was an amazing experience. My next big project, at the age of 18, was Romeo and Juliet the Musical as Juliet, at the national theater of Panama City. That was a dream come true, to perform there.

    That play turned on my hunger for the performing arts, and I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to this field. One month after the play finished, I went straight to the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time studying with us? Or did anything about your program particularly surprise and challenge you?

    EG: Many things were challenging. Acting is hard work, and not many people understand what it really takes to build a character who is nothing like you and convince an audience that it’s “real.”

    I remember one of my coaches, Michael, used to challenge me a lot — which I am grateful for, because I admire him as a person and professional. He was so passionate in every class, every detail, and most important, he wanted us to do what it takes to be great. He cared and wanted us to succeed. He told us once, “Imagine all the secrets that someone would need to know about you to play you perfectly.”

    That was the most challenging part for me, because I realized in that moment how far I was from knowing my character. I realized what it takes to do the job. It’s not acting; its life, and a lot of research.

    NYFA: Before coming to NYFA, you acted in Panama’s Summer Dreams. How has your process changed regarding performing, since your studies and other experiences in Miami?

    EG: It’s totally different. I started to act without having studied acting. Now that I have studied acting (which you never stop doing), I wish I could go back and do it again with what I know now. It’s been a satisfying and fun process.

    NYFA: For our international student community, can you offer any advice on studying in the U.S.? Can you tell us a little bit about your experience of coming from Panama to NYFA Los angeles?

    EG: It was the best decision of my life. It’s hard yes, but it’s so worth it.

    I know it’s scary to leave home and pursue a dream by yourself out there, but let me tell you something: it’s going to change your life in so many positive ways! I accept that I felt overwhelmed many times missing home and feeling lonely, but all those situations that I went through back then in Los Angeles made me the strong, independent, and passionate woman that I am today.

    NYFA made me grow as a professional and a human being. I learned so many things and I am grateful and happy for it.

    NYFA: How did your experience on Canta Conmigo come about? What was it like achieving second place?

    EG: It was amazing. It changed my life, basically. So many doors opened for me after. Since then my career in Panama has been accepted and successful, thanks Gob and to the people that has been supporting me since the beginning. I feel blessed that I have been able to represent my country in the U.S. and make them proud.

    NYFA: As a singer and musician, what most inspires your work?

    EG: I could say experiences, in every sense of word, which led me to start writing songs. It’s funny because that process started when I was at NYFA living by myself for the first time. I wrote my first songs back then.

    I use to think I couldn’t write lyrics, but I was wrong. Experiences are necessary to tell stories from the heart.

    But what inspires me the most is my mom. She is my drive, the one who encouraged me to do this and helped me in everything. She believed in me since I was three years old and sang for the first time, Cucurrucucu Paloma. Everything I do is dedicated to her.

    NYFA: Can you tell us how your work with Telemundo came about, and a bit about your character?

    EG: This February I had my debut on American television in the Telemundo NBC series Al Otro Lado Del Muro, which means “the other side of the wall.” I still don’t have words to express how happy I am for this opportunity. It was an honor to work with renowned actors such as Gabriel Porras, Litzy Martinez, Marjorie De Sousa and Adriana Barraza, the Oscar nominee for the movie Babel, who was my coach here in Miami at her school Adriana Barraza Black Box. Being able to work with Adriana on my first job was a dream come true.

    The series talks about immigrants and their different stories. My character is Raquel Aranda, a Salvadoran immigrant who arrives in the U.S., running from the human trafficking. Later, she is separated from her family and unjustly deported to Mexico. She tries to cross the border, again facing dangers in order to be with her family and her one-month old child.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Avkash Mann Debuts Top 40 Song

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    Avkash Mann

    Avkash Mann
    Photo Credit: Facebook

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Avkash Mann released his debut single, Away, this July. It wasn’t long before it made the American Top 40 Charts on Spotify, along with artists like Ariana Grande and Beyonce Knowles. Mann is the son of prominent Punjabi singer-actor Harbhajan Mann, though he strives to gain credit and success through his own hard work and talent rather than any nepotism or celebrity advantage.

    Away is a soulful modern pop/R&B track, written and composed by Mann in addition to being performed by him. Mann released it with a beautifully shot black-and-white music video as well. The track is in English, though Mann plans on writing and releasing Hindi tracks in addition to Punjabi songs he’s also previously written.

    Mann told India New England News, “I always thought that if I write songs then I would want to write them for people who can relate to them. My music is inspired by what is going on around me. Not just my own life, but also my friends’ and close family’s lives.”

    Mann also focuses his artistry on introspection and positive values, avoiding topics like violence  and alcohol in his work, whether it is more socially-focused or more romantically-inclined. “I don’t want to promote anything that would wanna make people do something that is detrimental to themselves or people around them,” he continued.

    In the same article, in addition to expanding on why he doesn’t rely on his father’s fame to further his own career, Mann mentions that he has “some film stuff in the pipeline too” — projects that he’ll elaborate on in the near future.

    In May 2017, Mann attended New York Film Academy’s 4-Week Acting for Film workshop. In the month-long course, acting students learn their craft with an emphasis on Stanislavsky’s System, scene study, and monologue work as starting points. In conjunction with their classes, students participate in courses aimed specifically at training the actor for the technical requirements of acting on a film set.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates alum Avkash Mann on his successful hit song, and looks forward to both his future musical and film projects! 

    If you are interested in attending New York Film Academy, you can find more information on our programs here.

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    July 27, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 21034

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Community Outreach Partners with Actors for Autism

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    The New York Film Academy-Los Angeles recently partnered with Actors for Autism (AFA), providing “hands-on,” college-level filmmaking courses as an extension of the AFA filmmaking program where students write, shoot and edit their own films. Speaking about the collaboration, NYFA’s Chair of Community Outreach, Mason Richards, said “At NYFA we believe that diversity in the film industry goes beyond race and gender, it also includes ability among other things. And we are wholly mindful about training and creating opportunities for people on the spectrum along with other underrepresented groups. The students were amazing.”NYFA and Actors for Autism

    Actors for Autism is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement, education, and training of people on the autistic spectrum by providing new and innovative programs in the Arts, Film & Television, Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Game Industries. According to their mission statement, Actors for Autism believes that people on the autistic spectrum should live as integrated members of society. Inclusion should be a reality, not a dream. For the last 15 years, AFA has been a pioneer in developing new and innovative programs, providing media & technology training that assists their students in finding employment after they complete their education. There are a variety of companies that have partnered with AFA to provide their students internships and job opportunities. 

    The young AFA filmmakers shot scenes from their short films on NYFA-Los Angeles in-house sound stages in Burbank, and on the Universal Backlot. In addition, they also did ADR and post-production at NYFA with instructors Huch Platt and John Briscoe. Liz Fenning, Program Supervisor at Actors for Autism added, “To our students, it meant everything to them to make films with NYFA, and to have NYFA’s caring faculty and staff support them, as they got to live out their dreams working with high-quality equipment shooting on a studio lot. There is no measure for the joy it brought to them.​”

    ​Fenning continued, “Not only did we notice distinct changes in the students’ technical knowhow, but more importantly, we noticed that they were better able to trust their instincts and pursue their passions with greater confidence. Essentially, it allowed our students to take the leap from viewing themselves as students of film, to directors, screenwriters, and talent.”

    Once the students completed the semester-long filmmaking program, NYFA hosted a private screening for friends, families, and supporters of the young filmmakers at the NYFA theater. Actor and AFA supporter Jack Dylan Grazer, who recently starred as Eddie in the Stephen King adaptation It and will be appearing in the superhero film Shazam, showed his support by attending the screening, and was very impressed by the student films.

    NYFA and Actors for AutismAbout Grazer’s involvement, Fenning stated, “Jack Dylan Grazer has been an incredible supporter of our program. It meant the world to the students, that a young and accomplished cinema artist, would take his very limited time to show support and appreciation of their work. For him to be present at the ceremony at NYFA left them speechless — truly, to have a peer in the industry take the time to celebrate their work has made an indeliable mark on them.”

    Since receiving their Certificates of Completion from NYFA-Los Angeles, two of the student filmmakers so far have gained employment at local production companies, while others are interviewing and still looking for employment.

    ​“We cannot thank NYFA enough for this partnership. With this program, NYFA truly demonstrates what it means to be a leader in the Los Angeles film community. For our students, they have provided a life changing experience. We are beyond grateful for NYFA’s generosity, and are awed by its heart for this population of artists, so often overlooked by the film community at large.​”

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    July 26, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Community Highlights, Diversity, Outreach • Views: 401

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Zhuo Tan in Chinese Box Office Smash

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    Zhuo Tan, an alum of New York Film Academy’s Acting for Film Workshop, recently co-starred in the Chinese film, Dying to Survive. The comedy-drama is making headlines across China and the global filmmaking industry as one of the most successful films in the history of Chinese cinema.

    In May 2015, Zhuo Tan attended the New York Film Academy’s 4-Week Acting for Film workshop in Los Angeles, California. Dying to Survive isn’t Tan’s first role in a prominent film — she has also starred in the well-received films Wrath of Silence and Hello! Mr. Tree. She also appeared in Spring Fever, which won awards both at the Golden Horse and Cannes Film Festivals.

    In Dying to Survive, Tan plays a single mother. The comedy-drama is based on a true story, about a leukemia patient named Lu Yong who smuggled illegal medicine into China to help over a thousand other cancer patients. The film was directed by Wen Muye, who co-wrote the screenplay with Han Jianü and Zhong Wei. It was produced by Ning Hao and the movie’s star, Xu Zheng. Also starring in Dying to Survive are Zhou Yiwei, Wang Chuanjun, and Zhang Yu.

    Dying to Survive was an immediate hit with audiences, grossing nearly $50 million on its opening day alone, including preview screenings. In its opening weekend, it nearly quadrupled its take with just shy of $200 million in receipts, the fourth biggest opening weekend in China ever. As of this writing, its box office intake is $367 million, numbers tough for any film — even in Hollywood — to amass.

    The film has also been received well critically, with one reviewer saying it “might be China’s best movie of the year,” and who also credits Dying to Survive for “tackling difficult social issues.” This latter trend is growing — and paying off — for Chinese cinema, which has been around nearly as long as the medium of film itself, but of late has been coming into its own as part of both the global market and cultural landscape.

    China’s influence and importance to the cinematic arts is exactly why the New York Film Academy (NYFA) has established a presence there, having offered local workshops in Shanghai and Beijing. This summer, NYFA is hosting two workshops in the capital city. A 4-Week Filmmaking Workshop is currently in session this July, and another 1-Week Workshop will commence later in the summer.

    The Beijing workshops not only provide state-of-the-art equipment and instruction from experienced, working filmmakers from around the world, but allow students from many diverse backgrounds to work together to craft their art. With the backdrop of the rich cultural heritage offered by Beijing, these students can learn the techniques of filmmaking in a collaborative environment, and share and gain new perspectives from one another to tell their own stories.

    The Beijing workshops can also serve as stepping stones for these students in their journey as filmmakers, including to longer, more intensive programs at New York Film Academy’s other campuses, including Los Angeles. At the Los Angeles campus, where Zhuo Tan studied acting, students receive their education in the heart of Hollywood and can even hone their craft on the world-famous Universal Studios backlot.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates alumna Zhuo Tan on her latest role and looks forward to seeing her future successes! If you are interested in attending the New York Film Academy, you can find more information here.

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    July 19, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 828

  • Alum Ludovic Coutaud Brings Lunatic Clowns to the Drama Book Shop

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    New York City is a thrilling and challenging place to be an artist. For NYFA Acting for Film Conservatory alum Ludovic Coutaud, creating site-specific shows crafted to play off iconic performances spaces within the city has helped him forge a specific and entirely original path as a performer, producer, and creative director.

    Coming up this summer, Lunatic Clown And Cie, the international theatre company Coutaud founded and serves as artistic director, brings The Book Wives Club (or The Closeted Beards) to the iconic Drama Book Shop library. Here, he tells the NYFA Blog what it’s like to perform original clown shows in New York City, and why it’s important for artists to produce their own work.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    LC: I studied Acting for Film at NYFA in 2011, and had a blast learning from this very talented faculty. I had visited the campus two months prior as a New York tourist with my parents and loved the idea of studying acting in another language among other foreigners. That is something that makes New York Film Academy such a strong, diverse school. We were 12 students in my class and only three Americans were present. I remember liking to call my class the United Nations of NYFA.

    NYFA: Why acting and directing? What draws you to storytelling through performance?

    LC: I started directing in Marseille, France where I am from, with my first acting teacher directing the end-of-year kids’ shows. It was a true leap of understanding the craft even better, and I found myself being able to communicate my directions more specifically having known what it was like to receive notes. It also taught me the importance of collaboration.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    LC: I loved every class for several reasons. The one I discovered entirely and had the most fun with was maybe Maggie Reed’s TV Sitcom and Soap Opera class during the second semester. These formats are very uncommon where I am from (especially the laugh tracks in the background). I learned lots of new tricks and techniques that I still use to this day.

    NYFA: Tell us a bit about your company Lunatic Clown And Cie. What inspired you to start the company, and how do you juggle your multinational and genre-bending productions?

    LC: I have written, directed and produced a dozen of shows in New York City under my name and I have developed a new style through these selections of projects. I’m now six years into the process — but I’ve been called a “clown” all my life!

    For those who know, clowning is a word that resonates out of the ordinary for certain cultures. For example, here in America clowns are often associated with birthday parties and dark serial killer stories. Well, my company, style, and the values behind every show aren’t remotely close to that. I call my clowns “tall children,” or poetic souls. Many names could be found. The style is complex.

    When I first discuss it with the actors involved in my company, I share information with them — like a chart of what to do and not do, and how to find the goal to achieve. Each clown piece is one simple, heartfelt story. I want to always find all the possible nuances and converse about the topic with all my clowns one on one.

    After 7 years juggling between the arts and other wonderful jobs, I have luckily been able to maintain my main target to why I came to New York in the first place. That’s also why it was time for me to brand all of my style under a name that would be catchy, mysterious yet personable: Lunatic Clown And Cie.

    NYFA: As a producer and performer, what challenges do you face when creating your shows, and how do you overcome those challenges?

    LC: Producing a show is hard work, yes, but if you do believe thoroughly in the project, things seem to flow a bit more. Throughout the years, struggles have shifted. My hat of producer joins creative, executive (financing), and supervising roles. Where other projects would hire three people, I found myself loving to do these three positions. My style being different, I needed to have very strong collaborators by my side who would understand me 100 percent. From show to show, I have found that person to assist me along the way on one or two projects, co-direct or even invest in the shows — and most importantly, friends who believed in my work.

    To this day, gathering a group of passionate risk takers, willing to join a community of artists and be clowns, has been a challenge. From all these hats, I would say I added the one of “eager artist hunter” to amplify the panel of the performers who I had the chance to work with.

    NYFA: Your summer show The Book Wives Club (or The Closeted Beards) uses clowning to explore the theme of denial. What an interesting combo — what led you to this theme? Why this show, now?

    LC: The Book Wives Club (or The Closeted Beards) takes on the very important theme of denial indeed because it has been a subject of mine for a long time. My first short play Denial was a success, also at the Drama Book Shop, in 2016. It was a piece with words and lots of audience members came to find me afterwards and said, ”Did you write this? Thank you. I would love to see more about that theme from you in the future.”

    I remember thinking how interesting that was, so I did find the inspiration to write two new pieces: Look at Me, and now this one. This time, I decided to explore that major topic through physicality only. Again, you realize that clowning and performance art here is the same family for me.

    Timing is very interesting and the society we live in fascinates and aggravates me at the same time. I had a list of eight shows of mine waiting around and I picked this one because I got the Drama Book Shop. This the third time that I have contacted the Drama Book Shop team. Four pieces of mine have swept the stage of the Arthur Seelen Theatre already and this time I had decided to rock the library.

    That location is ideal for several reasons; it is an actor’s temple, it gathers stories waiting to be told, it is a pleasure to work with the staff and is a centered location for many involved. The show is not Rated R but for everyone. This piece is for all. I look forward to discussing this piece with the audience members.

    NYFA: What’s next for you and The Book Wives Club (or The Closeted Beards)?

    LC: The Lunatic Clown And Cie show Voyage will be next at the New York New Works Theatre Festival 2018 at Theatre Row in September.

    NYFA: Would you say that your time at NYFA was at all useful for preparing for the work you are doing now?

    LC: NYFA was indeed very helpful since I had the chance to work on several student films and learned from other departments and teachers. My curiosity and the proximity of campuses made me eager to keep learning and that hasn’t changed.

    Congratulations, Ludovic! If you’re in New York City, get your tickets for The Book Wives Club (or The Closeted Beards) here.

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  • Raising Suicide Prevention Awareness & Challenging Stigma With New York Film Academy Camp Alum Florence Kosky

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    Creating a film that works as a beautiful piece of art as well as a platform for an incredibly important message is a challenge, even for the most seasoned filmmakers. Yet at a very young age, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film summer camp alum and British actress/model/director Florence Kosky has brought all these elements together in her short film All The World’s a Stage.

    Motivated by the profound loss of three young friends to suicide, Florence decided to collaborate with others to “do something positive” to help “break down the stigma around suicide by provoking thought and opening up a conversation.” Through crowdfunding, she assembled what she would need to put together a visually stunning film on a shoestring budget, and in the process built an incredible team of passionate professionals who volunteered their time for a cause they believed in: raising awareness and, hopefully, saving lives. Even Olivia Colman volunteered to narrate, lending her distinct voice to a script approved by MIND and supported by the Mental Health Foundation.

    Watch All The World’s a Stage here:

    A Message from NYFA Counseling:

    This beautiful and powerful piece really portrays the distorted thinking that accompanies depression well. The main character’s belief that he has to perform and come across in a specific way in order to be loved and appreciated is a thinking trap that people struggling with depression often face. It’s incredibly difficult to have the energy and persistence to get help: often the very things that we need when we’re feeling that way are exactly what depression tells us we don’t deserve. We hope that people take away that needing support, and then getting it, is something we all deserve; that mental health IS health; and that, as a society, we can all support a change to address the stigma that depression is a weakness — and as a result, save lives.

    U.S. Resources:

    NYFA New York City Counseling Website

    NYFA Los Angeles Counseling Website

    Crisis Text Line: https://www.crisistextline.org/

    Text TALK to 741741

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

    1 (800) 273-8255 (TALK)

    Here, Florence shares the process and inspiration behind a truly powerful film with the NYFA Blog:

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to the NYFA Acting for Film camp?

    FK: I’m a model, actress, and filmmaker from Dorset in England. I’m now 22 and so far have got three short films under my belt as a director and two indie features as an actress. As a model I’ve worked internationally for the past five years, working for brands from Adidas to Dior. It’s pretty busy, but very fulfilling!

    I came to NYFA when I was 16, and it was because I had always loved acting and film but had never experienced the two of them together, and we couldn’t really find anywhere better than LA to go for me to do this!

    NYFA: What inspires you most about acting and film?

    FK: I think I find acting and film so inspiring because it’s an art form that is really easy for the consumer to relate to and to be moved by. To me it’s wonderful because even if the director or the actor intends one thing, the viewer can take something else from it, and that is wonderful because it gives it a universal quality.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your experience making All The World’s a Stage?

    FK: Making All The World’s A Stage was pretty special because it was crowdfunded, and the whole cast and crew volunteered; so it felt like there was a real cause that everyone was rallied behind and cared about. That gave the experience this really lovely focused feeling, because everyone was working their hardest to make it the best it could be because they thought it was a story that needed to be told, rather than just a job they were being paid to do.

    I found this really moving, and it made me feel very supported throughout. I think you can see in the final product that it was made by people who really cared.

    NYFA: What was it like to put the story together and shoot the film? Were there any challenges along the way in making your film, and how did you overcome them?

    FK: The story was already in place, as the script is based on a poem that my friend, Charlie Fox, wrote when we were 17 and lost a mutual friend to suicide. Her words have stuck with me since, and they really painted a picture in my mind. For the narrative, it was just a case of relaying those visuals back into words.

    I think the biggest challenge we faced was that, generally, I want to create fantastic worlds that, if they were on a bigger production, would use a lot of VFX. So it was working out how to create those same feelings on a much smaller budget.

    We used a lot of stylized lighting in an empty studio to create mood shifts and different locations — my favourite of which is the night sky in the bedroom scene, because we just used a projector and some footage we bought for around £30 from Shutterstock which is A LOT cheaper than VFX — and actually a couple of people have asked me who did the VFX for that scene, so that was really the best outcome!

    NYFA: You used crowdfunding to support this film production, and worked with MIND, the Mental Health Foundation, and Olivia Colman. That is huge! What surprised you most about that experience?

    FK: Thank you! I think the most surprising thing was that Olivia wanted to be a part of it! I and my producer, Matt Cook, had always had her [in mind] as one of our ideal voices for the narrator. So when we were coming to the end of post production, we thought we might as well try to reach out to her agent and see if she’d be interested. We sent the picture lock and the score and, incredibly, she was! I am so grateful to have worked with one of my heroes so early on in my career — it was honestly wonderful to see a master of their craft work, and I think the film would be a lot less powerful without her voice.

    NYFA: What would you most like to say to your audience about your film, and what it means?

    FK: I would just like to say thank you for watching, and if you can take anything from it, please remember that depression and mental illness can happen to anyone, no matter how perfect their lives look on the outside. Remember to be kind and to look after each other, as you never know what someone is battling with. At the end of the day, we are all each other have.

    NYFA: What’s next for you?

    FK: I’ve got another feature that I’m shooting as an actress this summer, which is very exciting! It’s a comedy mockumentary which is going to be super fun and nice to balance out the heaviness of my recent projects. I’m also working on the script for my first feature as a director, which hopefully should go into production next year. Keep an eye out!

    #KeepYourCrown

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  • Spring 2018 Highlights from NYFA Los Angeles’ Acting for Film Department

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    It’s been a busy semester at for the Acting for Film Department at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles. In addition to our fabulous curriculum, we also hosted industry guest speakers, produced student-directed plays, saw our improv troupe return to the 80’s in a memorable performance, and an empowering performance from our dance troupe.

    Spring ’18 Student-Directed Plays

    This Spring’s series of student-directed plays commenced with The Shape Of Things, directed by Kylee Snyder. Neil LaBute’s play examines the protagonist’s relationship to her art, which she uses as a form of manipulation and punishment,  crossing the line and justifying self-serving behavior.     

    Five Women Wearing The Same Dress was directed by Nurgul Salimova. Alan Ball’s hilarious play about five very different bridesmaids all hiding out to escape the bride that none of them even like. Over the course of the play, they laugh, cry, fight, reveal secrets, and ultimately find a common connection in sisterhood. The creative set design was a true delight.

    Madison Miller and Jonas Grosserhode in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress

    The Greater Good Rebecca, directed by Kia Queener. This dystopian play by  Rebecca Gorman O’Neil explores the consequences when citizens don’t take action, blindly follow orders, and allow a government to silence dissenters.

    Stefan Leach, Bella Ferraro, and Evan Annisette in The Greater Good

    Women and Wallace is a one-act play by Jonathan Sherman and directed by Luke Sweeney. The play explores how a young man learns to navigate relationships with women after the suicide of his mother. By the play’s end, Wallace learns to forgive his mother and gains the ability to love again.

    Cock was directed by second-time student director Jeremiah Lucas. The play is a sharp witty study of the sexual identity and the paralyzing indecision that stems from stigmatization of same-sex orientation. The engaging and well-staged play was written by Mark Barlett.

    Jeremiah Lucas director of Cock

    Picasso at The Lapin Agile by Steve Martin and directed by Alon Fischer. What would happen if Einstein and Picasso met in a local watering hole (and hell throw in Elvis), and you have an uproariously funny play that asks the question what is genius and creativity? And, who do they belong to?

    Jacob Douglas Wolfe in Picasso at The Lapin Agile

    A Cell Phone Symphony id an original play written and directed by our BFA student Michael Anthony Johnson. It’s a contemporary comedy that included rap, pop music, Thriller-esque dance numbers, and a cell phone game. It takes place in NY and asks the question: what happens to our relationships when we have a more intimate connection to our phones than we do to the people in our lives. 

    Improv Troupe & Glee Club

    The first Improv Troupe Showcase was held on Thursday, April 5 at the Groundlings Gary Austin Stage after a four-month rehearsal process.  The company  – selected by audition from alumni and current students – performed for a sold-out crowd of industry professionals – including networks and top-tier talent agencies, managers and casting directors. The show was directed by LA Faculty Suzanne Kent and George McGrath, both Groundling alumni. The troupe wishes to thank Lynda Goodfriend and Anne Moore for their hard work and support.

    This spring, the Glee Club at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus held a 1980s music concert — and it was a huge success!  

    The Glee Clubbers put up seminal hits by Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Smiths, Guns and Roses, and DEVO. Glee Club faculty supervisor Melissa Sullivan said, “It has been an amazing experience to musically direct this multi-talented group the last two years. Throughout the semester, I have seen students flourish and grow through music.”

    To create a true pop sound for the music of this semester’s concert, the Glee Club utilized microphones — for some students, it was their first experience using mics. Sullivan had mics set up in rehearsals so students could learn mic singing technique. The event was also choreographed and staged with the help of students Sunny Amara and Jasmine Mensah.  According to Amara, “My experience in Glee Club has been everything I imagined; a group of talented people who just want to have fun, work hard and make beautiful music. I’ve become great friends with these people very quickly and we’ve become a little glee family!”

    Sullivan had this to say about NYFA Clubs in general: “What I find amazing about the clubs that NYFA has to offer is that the students involved are usually in more than one club. Some of the Glee Club students are also in the Dance Troupe. I believe these clubs are beneficial to student’s growth. They are collaborating with students outside of their class and have an additional creative outlet. “

    NYFA’s Glee Club is usually comprised of four sopranos, four altos, four tenors and four basses, and guided by strong student leadership and collaboration. This semester, the club had BFA student Rachel Gordine as assistant musical director, and the sections’ leaders were BFA student Rachel Gordine (sopranos), BFA student Paige Conroy (altos), AFA student Ethan Williams and BFA student Zackary Nel (tenors), and BFA student Zane Hudson (bass).

    Next semester the New York Film Academy Glee Club will be putting up the music of Broadway, and possibly collaborating with the NYFA Dance Troupe. It’s a very exciting time here in Los Angeles, and the Glee Club hopes you can join them at next semester’s show.

    International Women’s Day

    On Thursday, March 8th, International Women’s Day, a panel of entertainment industry women assembled to discuss their experience working in the industry and provide advice to our students in what was a highly informative evening.

    Event Details:

    “A Woman’s Place is In the Industry”-  Perspectives on Women in the Entertainment Industry: a Panel Discussion on the landscape for women today in different areas of the entertainment community, and in the interest of our students, who are the future of entertainment, answer the question – “How do we create a different, more empowering culture for women in the industry?”

    Panelists

    Dea Lawrence

    – Chief Marketing Officer for Variety. As CMO, Dea is responsible for driving Variety’s global branding and communications strategy, including overseeing the marketing and production of their 70 annual events and summits along with the Variety Content Studio which creates storytelling for brands.

    Kelly Gilmore

    – former Senior Vice President of Global Toys for 28 years at Warner Bros. Consumer Products responsible for licensing intellectual properties such as DC Comics, Harry Potter, Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes to major global toy companies including Mattel, Hasbro, Spin Master, Jakks Pacific and Funko. When Kelly left in 2016, her team had the biggest financial year in the history of her career, winning nine toy awards. Since retiring in 2016, Kelly enjoys floral arranging, gardening, cooking, spending time with her dogs and mentoring a 14-year-old girl.

    Barbara Bain

    – a 3 Time Emmy Award Winning Actress, Barbara is perhaps best known for her role as Cinnamon Carter in “Mission Impossible” for which she won 3 consecutive Emmy Awards for Best Actress in a Drama Series. Barbara is also well known for her philanthropy work. Among her many charitable activities, Barbara is the founder of the Screen Actors Guild’s “BookPals” Program that has colleagues reading to children in schools all around Los Angeles.

    Jeanette Collins

    – Producer/Writer. Jeanette and writing partner Mimi Friedman started their careers writing on “In Living Color” where they were nominated for an Emmy. Many half-hour comedies followed including “A Different World”, “Suddenly Susan” and “Will and Grace”. After 2 seasons writing for the HBO series “Big Love”, they joined the staff of “Dirt”. They are currently developing a mini-series for HBO about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Winship Cook

    – Independent Producer. Winship worked in network television at Paramount Pictures on shows such as “Down Home” and “Fired Up”. She Co-Executive Produced “The Family Plan” a movie for the Hallmark Channel. Winship worked as a Producer and Vice President of Development for The Edward S. Feldman Company, where her credits include “102 Dalmatians” starring Glenn Close and “K-19: The Widowmaker” directed by Kathryn Bigelow, starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. As a theater producer, Winship developed and produced the one-man show “RFK” that in its Off-Broadway incarnation was an award-winning show directed by Larry Moss.

    Valorie Massalas

    – Casting Director/Producer. Valorie’s prolific, extensive casting career includes such features as “Back to the Future 2 & 3” directed by Robert Zemeckis, “Indiana Jones” and “Total Recall” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone.

    Ronnie Yeskel

    – Casting Director. Ronnie’s career casting countless films and television shows includes such iconic features as “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” for Writer/Director Quentin Tarantino and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” for Larry David on HBO.

    Elvi Cano

    – Executive Director at EGEDA US & Premios Platino. Elvi and her teams In Los Angeles and Miami provide assistance to Spanish and Latin American filmmakers serving as a liaison facilitating relations between the US film industry and those of Spain and Latin America. She has been actively involved in the production of the 4 editions of The PLATINO AWARDS OF IBEROAMERICAN CINEMA in Panama, Spain & Uruguay and is the talent producer/head of talent for the Awards.

    Lisa Guerriero

    – Lisa Guerriero began working as a Camera Assistant in Los Angeles in 1989. She has worked on feature films and television shows such as “Fight Club”, “Lost Highway”, and “Mad Men”. Lisa has been on the Executive Board of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600 since 2001 and was the Co-Chair of their Diversity Committee for four years.

    Jana Winternitz 

    – an award-winning producer and actress having produced over 70 projects including “The Thinning Franchise”, “Internet Famous” and “Funny Story”. She has worked with Legendary, 20th Century Fox, Disney and Focus Features along with a slew of wonderful talent including Maggie Gyllenhaal and Angela Bassett. Jana enjoys generating strong and complex female roles for the screen.

    STAND-UP FOR WOMEN!

    On March 7th, at the NYFA Theater, we hosted a benefit for women helping women (WHW). “Stand-Up for Women” was hosted by Lisa deLarios, featuring performances by stand-up comics: Laura House, Kate Willet, Vanessa Gonzalez, Jena Friedman, Jessica Sele, Annie Lederman, and Ellington Wells, and NYFA faculty member Jackie Kashian. The fabulous collection of talent was assembled by Peri Litvak.     

    Dance Troupe

    The theme of our upcoming show and Troupe is Diversity and Empowerment through Community and Purpose – To dance, create, express, entertain and have fun.

     As Dance Troupe is an extracurricular class students audition and once accepted, commit themselves to creating together and putting up a show of original works at the end of the semester. These students love to dance, choreograph and perform. The dance styles are diverse from Hip Hop, Break Dancing, Contemporary, Salsa, Belly Dance to Bollywood! They are all very dedicated and happy to be part of a dance community at NYFA where they can meet other students, have fun and dance off their stress as well. This will be the biggest show we have put on so far and we are really excited about it! This semester we have 27 dancers and we will be showcasing 18 original pieces!

    Students have to audition at the beginning of the semester to get in to Dance Troupe. We audition dancers and choreographers. It meets every Friday night in Bogart from 7:15pm to 10pm. Who is evolved – NYFA students which include the Acting Department, Film Department and Alumni. 

    The rehearsal process is pretty straight forward  – Choreographers show there pieces, then teach a part of their choreography to the dancers who are interested. Then the choreographers select the dancers they want in their piece –  for the most part the choreographers try to accommodate as many dancers as possible. Choreographers set up outside rehearsals with their dancers and present their progress on Friday night when we meet. If there is time left over we break the time up and let different choreographers work on their pieces. These rehearsals are highly productive to say the least!

    Here’s what the students had to say about it:

    “Being apart of dance Troupe Has allowed me to explore a side of myself that’s filled with passion, leadership and overall growth and love for everyone involved. The progress of the troupe is incredible!:” – Jacqueline Hahn

    “I get an outlet for myself to express my creativity without the pressure of grades and succeeding in my major” – Lotta Lemetti

    “Dance Troupe has made me a happier, joyful and motivated artist to express my feelings through creative movement” – Derek Ramsay

    “It’s a different medium of art I get to explore. I can give myself so much freedom through dance.” – Julia Newman

    ” Dance Troupe has really helped me to open up as a person. It helps me to express myself without words, just through body language, which ultimately helps me in my acting. In addition, I met a lot of amazing and super talented people, who I am great friends with now.” – Danel Azimova

    ” I get out of Dance Troupe the feeling and opportunity to reach out to others. I am able to interact with dedicated dancers that support one another. Just like any other branch of art, I can tell a story and get a message across, but in this case through music and movement.”- Sabrina Hartmann

    “Every rehearsal is amazing for me because I’m getting a lot of energy, love, good vibes, laughter and good workout.” – Elizaveta Emerenko 

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    June 14, 2018 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 568