Tag Archives: Radio City Music Hall

Forest Hills opera singer competing for America’s vote on ‘AGT’ this week


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/NBC


A Texas-born, afro-sporting woman who enjoys football and mixed martial arts is not who most people imagine when they think of an opera singer.

That viewpoint is exactly what Forest Hills resident Olanna Goudeau is trying to prove wrong.

Goudeau, 32, and musical partner Ashley Renée Watkins, 29, will be singing for America’s vote Tuesday night in the hopes of spreading opera to a larger audience and winning $1 million.

“People feel [opera] is not accessible and not familiar to them,” Goudeau said. “We kind of want to be ambassadors for the art form.”

The singing duo, Acte II, is one of 48 acts that made it to the season nine “America’s Got Talent” quarterfinals, where they get to appear live at Radio City Music Hall and compete for viewers’ votes.

The ladies received yeses from all four judges, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel, in the NBC show’s season nine premiere on May 27. They were so impressed that Acte II was selected to go straight through to the live performances, bypassing a second audition in front of the judges.

Mel B surprised Goudeau with the exciting news at her Queens home.

“I was completely shocked,” Goudeau said. “I didn’t say hello or invite her in.”

Before making it to the reality show stage, Goudeau’s love for singing started in church and with gospel music. As she grew older, she was introduced to classical music. But her focus on singing and opera as a career came in college.

After switching from a computer science major to music, she thought her program would focus on jazz music, since she was attending Dillard University in New Orleans. But to her surprise, she learned the classics and her passion for opera was born.

It was also at Dillard that she met Watkins, but they didn’t become friends until Goudeau was working on her master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma and Watkins was one of several Dillard students the school hosted following Hurricane Katrina.

They grew closer when they both were a part of Opera New Jersey one summer. The idea for Acte II started as way for them to find more singing opportunities in Europe and to do a concert tour.

“We enjoyed singing together,” Goudeau said. “So we were like, why don’t we make this official?”

The name and the group came to represent more.

“We wanted to make our own opportunities,” Goudeau said. “It’s like a second phase in life.”

The same weekend they were set to have their first concert, at the First AME Church: Bethel in Harlem, where Goudeau is currently an artist-in-residence, “America’s Got Talent” was holding auditions.

“We were so nervous that [the judges] wouldn’t accept opera,” she said. The pair both had their “afros out” and dressed like “everyday people.”

The judges not only accepted the art form, but were surprised by their voices.

“That was a moment and that was your moment,” Mel B said, adding that the performance made the hair on her arms stand up.

On Tuesday they will need to garner the same reaction from viewers. And Goudeau, who moved to Queens six years ago to pursue her New York City opera dreams, is asking the borough to vote for one of their own.

“[My family has] embraced Queens so much. I just feel so comfortable here. It’s such a community,” she said. “I hope Queens people vote.”

To watch Acte II perform live on “America’s Got Talent,” tune in on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 9 p.m. To find out how to vote, visit www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent/vote/methods.

UPDATE: Acte II was eliminated in the Wednesday, Aug. 6 episode of “America’s Got Talent.”  To watch Acte II’ s Tuesday night performance, watch the video below. For more information on the singers, visit acteii.com.

 

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Flushing dance studio to celebrate 50th anniversary


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


The Mildred Scilla School of Dance hasn’t lost a step in half a century.

The Flushing studio on 164th Street will turn 50 years old this September and it continues to be a staple in the neighborhood, which has changed greatly during the last half-century.

The school currently has nearly 200 students, and Councilman Paul Vallone recently presented the studio with a citation honoring the upcoming anniversary.

“We represent quality, professionalism, nurturing and caring, and it’s been received that way from the community,” said owner Gary Gendell. “We still enjoy what we are doing. It’s not a business. It’s a way for us to give back to the community based on our backgrounds.”

Mildred Scilla, a member of The Rockettes in the 1940s and 1950s, opened the studio in her Flushing basement in 1964 to teach dance to children in the neighborhood. Her own children grew up learning to dance in the studio as well.

Photo courtesy Sandy Gendell

“We knew everybody in the neighborhood. All the neighborhood kids came to our house,” said Sandy Gendell, Scilla’s daughter. “There was always a lot going on. It was a lot of fun for us.”

Scilla moved the studio to its current location in 1974 after the studio gained popularity. When she died in 1998, Sandy took control of the dance school with Gary. They believe the studio’s tradition and their individual performance experience has helped it thrive.

Sandy followed in her mother’s footsteps and joined The Rockettes in 1970. She performed in the famous shows in Radio City Music Hall until 1978. Gary, meanwhile, acted on Broadway in the original productions of Annie and Chicago, and he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show as a dancer in the early ‘70s.

The pair said embracing the diversity that has come to Flushing through the 50 years has also played a major role and helped them grow with the neighborhood.

“As the neighborhood changes you have to change with it,” Sandy said. “We’re probably the last original people on this block.”

 

 

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Weekend Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The-Afternoon-Roundup2

25 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested as group gathers in Washington Square Park

Occupy Wall Street protesters are gearing up for a Monday demonstration to mark the first anniversary of the movement — and give the 1% a fresh headache. Nearly 200 scruffy anti-capitalists swarmed Washington Square Park on Saturday in a warmup for Monday morning, when the activists will march on Wall Street and attempt to disrupt rush-hour traffic. Read more: Daily News

Queens teenager shot to death outside of Boys And Girls High School in Brooklyn

A Queens teenager was found shot to death outside of a historic Brooklyn High School on Friday. Police responding to a 911 call found Kaiim Vieira, 17, outside of Boys and Girls High School with multiple gunshot wounds. Read more: CBS

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula revealed! Photo surfaces despite his efforts to shield face from media after interview with police

Federal investigators questioned — but later released — one of the filmmakers behind the incendiary anti-Islam video that sparked violent clashes across the Middle East. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was taken in for questioning near his Southern California home early Saturday, officials said. Read more: Daily News

Driver faces DUI charges following Midtown crash

A man is facing drunk driving charges after his car smashed into a passenger van near Radio City Music Hall in Midtown this morning, injuring six people. Police say a Mercedes sedan ran a red light and smashed into a GO Airlink passenger van around 4:45 a.m. at Sixth Avenue and 50th Street near Radio City Music Hall. Read more: NY1

When it comes to Queens politics, Asian-language media have it covered

When Democratic Assembly candidate Ron Kim — fresh off a hard-fought primary win — visited two senior centers in Flushing on Friday, he was greeted by a crush of reporters and photographers. Kim is one step closer to making history by becoming the first Korean-American lawmaker in the State of New York. And while that’s an interesting story for any reporter it’s huge news for the scores of Asian-language newspapers, radio stations and television stations that aggressively cover Queens politics on a daily basis. Read more: Daily News

Wheelchair softball tourney takes place in Queens

When a car accident paralyzed Joe Mendez 20 years ago, he thought his sports-playing days were over. “It took me a long time to be able to handle the ball, to maneuver the chair and stuff like that,” he said. “It takes time and effort.” He eventually re-learned to play softball, on wheels. Read more: NY1