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  • The Power of Music: Being Part of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Glee Club

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Glee Club is an extracurricular club that not only affords NYFA students another way to express themselves artistically, but brings them together and bonds them through a joint love of music and song.Glee Club Summer 2018

    Sunny Amara, a member of the Glee Club for six semesters and its current choreographer, calls being in the club “a new, exciting, thrilling experience every time. There’s nothing I love more than taking the stage and performing my heart out. The Glee Club has been a perfect place for that. It’s just so much fun.”

    Amara also echoes the sentiment shared by many in the Glee Club, that “the basis of Glee Club is a love of music, a love of singing and a love of performing that we get to share with audiences. And to me, that’s tops.”

    Amara adds, “Watching my choreography come to life with these beautiful, singing souls is an experience unparalleled by any. We work hard in rehearsals getting the music and dances to their best, then we get to pour our hearts out on that stage. There’s nothing better than that to me.”

    These sentiments aren’t just felt by Amara, but by many of the members of the NYFA Glee Club. Lara Heine is studying for her BFA in Acting at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus and is also a member of the club. After a performance at the end of last summer, Heine put her thoughts into words, writing the following piece, entitled “The Power of Music”:

    Music and Dance is like therapy for many people. It eases your soul and spreads happiness.

    At least that is how I always felt. As acting students, we are constantly on the go and expected to give our all. On very rare occasions we get something rewarded.

    That is why I chose to sign up for the Glee Club. To give and receive in return. 

    This semester was filled with a lot of talented and driven people and putting on a performance with them was an honor for me. Melissa Sullivan, our teacher, created an amazing lineup of thoughtful chosen group and solo pieces.

    Glee Club Summer 2018Most of us didn’t know each other when we met for our first rehearsal. Over the span of a few short weeks, we rehearsed some of the most challenging musical theatre pieces. We ended up growing, as a group and as people.

    Musical theatre is not always easy. The pressure to be a triple threat is high. When we were doubting ourselves, Melissa would listen and help us to see the positive and move past it.

    On the night of the performance our nerves were blank. During the final rehearsal, everyone was anxious and worried about different pieces and organizational things. The decorations kept falling of the walls and some of the choreography looked funky. Funnily enough, I was never worried if we were going to be able to pull it off. I just knew I was surrounded by so much talent and creativity that whatever happened, we would be fine. 

    And that was the case. Despite some doubts and worries, we went on stage and performed the hell out of it. As they say: “The show must go on.”

    The audience was blown away. They loved every single one of us. I could tell. The choreography was suddenly remembered by everyone, and the harmonies of all the group pieces were completely pitch-free. We all loved every second of it. We gave our heart and received so much love by the audience. All the hard work paid off. It was an awesome result after one semester of a lot of rehearsing. 

    Thank you to everyone who made this performance so amazing. And a special shoutout to Melissa, who has been our sunshine throughout the whole time.

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    November 12, 2018 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights, Student Life • Views: 1528

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) to Host National Bullying Prevention Month Screening of “Thirsty”

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    October is National Bullying Prevention Month and to bring awareness to the cause, the Filmmaking school at New York Film Academy (NYFA) is hosting a screening of Thirsty with its filmmakers. Described by as a “post-queer musical biopic,” Thirsty follows bullied girly-boy Scott Townsend as he grows into revered drag queen Thirsty Burlington, fighting obstacles along the way only to discover what he really wants is self-acceptance.

    The musical drama was released in 2016 and won Audience Choice for Best Narrative Feature at the Boston LGBT Film Festival, Best Narrative Feature at the Harlem International Film Festival, and the Jury Prize at the Portland Film Festival. It will be screened at NYFA New York’s 1st Floor Theatre on October 11th.

    Margo Pelletier directing Marilyn Matarrese and Deirdre Lovejoy

    Margo Pelletier directing Marilyn Matarrese and Deirdre Lovejoy

    The screening will be followed by a Q&A with producer Lisa Thomas, actors Jonny Beauchamp (who plays “middle” Scott Townsend), and Michael DiGioia (Uncle Gene), Choreographer Alexandra Amirov, and editor and NYFA alum Fabrizio Famá. Thomas is an industry veteran who has worked on Wonder Showzen and Ugly Americans. Beauchamp has appeared in Penny Dreadful and Stonewall. Famá has worked on many Italian feature films, documentaries, and shorts.

    The 97-minute feature film was directed by the late filmmaker Margo Pelletier, who was known for her exploration of gender and identity. She previously made the documentary Freeing Silvia Baraldini. Thirsty stars Scott Townsend as himself, lending a unique realism to its ability to tell a story based on his life. Deirdre Lovejoy (The Wire, The Blacklist) co-stars as Townsend’s addiction-addled mother Doris. Keith Leonard plays opposite her as Townsend’s absent and abusive father. Before her death, Pelletier had told Variety that a “good percentage” of the cast is LGBTQ.

    National Bullying Month began in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. It was originally the first week in October and has since expanded to include the entire month. Studies have shown bullying causes “school avoidance, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, and depression.” Learn more at StopBullying.gov. If you or someone you know is struggling, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You may anonymously report cyber bullying here and also find help and resources here.

    Prior to the Thirsty screening, NYFA will also be hosting a Wellness Day event from noon to 5pm on the 5th floor student lounge in NYC. View some statistics on bullying below:

    National Statistics

    Been Bullied
    • 28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.
    • 20% of U.S. students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.

    Seen Bullying

    • 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.
    • 70.4% of school staff have seen bullying. 62% witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month and 41% witness bullying once a week or more.
    • When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time

    Watch the trailer for Thirsty below:

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    September 21, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Diversity, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre • Views: 2000

  • New York Film Academy Glee Club Honors the ’80s in Spring Performance

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    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 of 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.

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    May 23, 2018 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1694