Stories and insights on excellent education.
If there’s one thing we celebrate at Success Academy, it’s self expression — and nowhere is that more apparent than on the night of the annual Festival of Performing Arts. This is one of the most exciting events of the Success Academy school year, a chance for scholars to walk onto the stage and express themselves by doing exactly what they love. This year’s performance featured 22 different acts from schools across the network, showcasing the voices, acting, dancing, and musical talents of 278 scholars who dazzled a packed audience. The remarkable stage presence of our performers is a testament to the teachers who prepared them — through training, motivation, and countless hours of rehearsal.
Success sophomore Kiara Daniels explains what being on stage means to her: “The best word I can think of to describe the feeling of performing on stage in front of a crowd is “fulfilling.” The energy from the crowd is incredible and energetic.” The performing arts, she says, enables a person who might not be very outgoing to learn how to raise his or her voice with confidence. Fellow performer and SA Ditmas Park middle schooler Jaylen Wallace agrees that performing presents a special opportunity to connect to the audience: “Through the performing arts, I can de-stress by expressing my emotions. At the same time, I’m hoping that the audience understands the emotions I put into dance. I want the viewer to feel the choreography I’m trying to bring to life.”
The arts move us. A song plays, and we cry. A scene ends, and we laugh. A dancer lands and turns on his toes, and a chill runs down our spines. The arts belong to each of us so that we may bend and shape them to see the world in a new, magical light. We’re brought together by the arts — and our scholars are leading the way.
Relive this year’s Performing Arts Festival, below:
SA Harlem East Afterburn
Teacher: Jamie Scotto
Afterburn is a piece for a young concert band depicting the excitement and the exuberant feeling of flight. This piece seeks to capture the many emotions a person may feel flying through the sky: excitement at takeoff, awe at the beauty of the earth, and a burst of joy when the afterburners hurtle through the sky.
SA Network Rock Band Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
Teacher: Kenneth Hildebrandt
In its inaugural year, the Network Rock Band consists of scholars from across the Network who learn all the instruments of the modern band. These scholars are proud to perform the anthem to eighties arena rock, the Journey classic “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart).”
SA Harlem North West Get Angry
Teacher: Julia Ferra
Get Angry is a contemporary dance piece performed by Harlem North West dance team scholars. The piece is an intro to our full length piece RIOT! which is based off the Detroit riot of 1967. In Get Angry, the dancers express their frustration with racial tension as they dance to Howard Beale’s “I’m Mad as Hell” speech.
SA Bensonhurst Silent Film
Teacher: Elise Palma Scholars have been learning about slapstick comedy in Theatre Club. Joel cleverly devised this short scene by drawing inspiration from classical physical comedians like Donald O’Connor and Charlie Chaplin. His amazing ability to create a universal piece that everyone can identify with and polish it with his comedic timing really stood out!
SA Washington Heights It’s the Hard Knock Life
Teachers: Edward Powers, Briana Hall, and Jordan Farr
This is a selection from Annie, our winter show. In this song, “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” Annie and the other orphans find joy and play in times of hardship. In our production, the Music, Dance, and Theatre Clubs collaborated to bring this classic story to life.
SA Flatbush Soulstice
Teachers: Caitlyn Kirby/Jamie Devine
Soulstice is a contemporary/lyrical piece performed by SA Flatbush’s grades 1-4 Advanced Dance Club scholars.
SA Flatbush A Dream Deferred
Teacher: Blaire Hillman
This is an excerpt from last year’s Black History Month adaptation of “One Last Word” by Nikki Grimes.
SA Bergen Beach Mufasa vs. Scar
Teacher: Michelle Isaac
“Mufasa vs. Scar” is an Afro-Modern piece performed by the Advanced Dance Club scholars of SA Bergen Beach. In this piece, the dancers reenact the famous battle scene between Mufasa and his brother Scar. This song is from Beyonce’s recent album The Lion King: The Gift, which celebrates the recent remake of the classic film.
SA Network Chorus We Will
Teacher: Joanna Malaszczyk
Acclaimed choral composer Jim Papoulis wrote We Will during a children’s choir workshop in the months following 9/11. The SA Network Chorus performs this musical and poetic rendering of the real emotions, thoughts, and hopes felt by children during this difficult and uncertain time in our history. The text includes the Swahili phrase “si mama, wototo,” which translates to “stand tall, children,” offering inspiration to move forward from the fear and worry that afflicted our nation.
SA Harlem 6 Who’s On First
Teacher: Alyssa Castellano-Smith
Our scholars have been exploring iconic Hollywood performances throughout the decades, finding ways to make them their own. This scene focuses on the 1940s era with a cut from the skit titled, “Who’s On First?” Originally performed by the famous American comedy duo Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, the routine centers on a play on words and the comedy surrounding it.
SA Crown Heights Get Your Head in the Game
Teacher: Jeff Cowens
Get Your Head in the Game is an upbeat hip hop piece performed by Crown Heights dance elective scholars. Scholars have been working hard to showcase both basketball and dance skills, and they can’t wait to show you how they get their heads in the game!
SA Harlem North West An Absolutely True Story (As Told By a Bunch of Lying Liars)
Teacher: Michael Springthorpe
Someone broke dad’s precious vase, and he and mom demand to know who. The only problem is that no one’s version of the truth is 100 percent accurate. In this excerpt from Ian McWethy’s play, we see the first of many “truths,” this time from the perspective of Fred, the family’s son. Who really broke the vase? Well, they say there are multiple sides to every story: yours, mine, our friends’, the dog’s, and the truth.
SA Fort Greene Willy Wonka Medley – Golden Ticket and I Want It Now
Teachers: Nicole Carlson and Emily Winter
This is a musical mashup of two songs from our winter production of “Willy Wonka Kids.” The first song is right after Charlie Bucket finds the last golden ticket in Wonka’s contest to tour his magic chocolate factory. The second is a song sung by Veruca Salt, an ungrateful child who wants the whole world to be hers.
SA Harlem East You Are the Reason
Teacher: Liz Gosselin
You Are the Reason, a contemporary piece performed by the Harlem East Dance Club, focuses on holding tight to those who are important to you and who inspire you.
SA Harlem West People Have the Power
Teacher: Brandon Dinklage
“Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith and I wrote this song with the great hope that it would inspire and incite people to action. We are moving into a new time and I look at our young people to lead us.” – Patti Smith (April 2018)
SA Harlem 3 This Is Me
Teacher: Kaylin Carlucci
This is Me, a contemporary dance performed by Harlem 3’s Dance Club scholars, explores what it’s like to feel unaccepted and the journey of overcoming those feelings to stand confidently in your own skin.
SA Harlem East Black History Is…
Teacher: Ramon Guzman
Black History is… is a spoken word piece performed by the Beast Theater Company at Harlem East. The piece follows the trajectory of Black history in America. Beginning when slaves came from Africa and continuing to present day, the piece highlights events, figures, and sentiments that have contributed to Black history.
SA Ditmas Park Middle School Ballin Flossin
Teacher: Michael Reyes
Ballin Flossin is an energetic piece performed by our Ditmas Park Club scholars. The piece highlights scholars’ footwork using influences from house dance and Chicago footwork styles. Now get ready to see Brooklyn scholars Ball & Floss it out!