39 students along with four teachers experienced an incredible trip to New York during the February Half Term break. The trip was aimed at Years 10 to 13 students studying Performing Art, Drama, Dance and Media.
As well as visits to The Empire State Building, the 9/11 Memorial, the Lincoln Centre for Performing Arts, the Museum of Moving Image, and seeing two Broadway shows, the group also took part in Media and Performing Arts workshops along the way.
New York Blog:
Tuesday, 19 February
Our trip to New York began with a very early start, with the group meeting at the ‘joyous’ time of 3:15 am at school. Despite the tiredness, everyone was very excited and after a few delays with flights we made it to New York! On our way to the hotel, we learnt about the city and it’s history from the lovely Ted, our tour guide. Not only was he able to tell us general facts about the city, he made his tour personal to our group by talking about the significance of this particular day within New York’s history.
Unfortunately, our delays meant that our table at the Hard Rock Cafe had been given away by the time we arrived there. But all was not lost! We were able to visit the Empire State Building a little earlier than planned; even our tiredness and hunger couldn’t detract from this amazing experience! This is definitely the best view I have ever experienced, with the group getting to see the New York skyline lit up at night from the observational tower. Thankfully, we were able to eat at the restaurant after this. After our food, the group walked back to the hotel to get some sleep before our first full day in the city!
Wednesday, 20 February
After a long day yesterday, everyone was pretty tired, but we were excited to tackle another day in The Big Apple. The day started with a Starbucks breakfast and then it was straight to the “Book of Mormon” workshop where we met our new fave person, Bud, who in the words of Miss Inglesfield, is “a handsome Broadway star”. The workshop involved learning a song from The Book of Mormon called “Two by Two” which required both singing and dancing skills. It was a challenge because the piece was so high in energy, but everyone really enjoyed it. The high energy from the workshop was continued afterwards because when we left we were greeted with a snowy New York City, through which we made our way to the 9/11 memorial. This experience was surreal; knowing that we were stood in the place where such devastation happened felt quite overwhelming. As I looked at the names engraved into the incredibly designed memorial, I could sense the feeling of shock that hung over the group. As a contrast to this atmosphere of sadness, we made our way via the subway and with a little stop at Grand Central Station we made our way to The Rockerfeller Centre. I think that this little visit made us all realise that Miss Inglesfield and Miss Serrechia are more fun loving and excitable than we thought… which we didn’t think was possible! The trip included exploring an amazing toy shop (F.A.O. Schwartz) – giant unicorns, Harry Potter, space ships, Lego, you name it – but the most exciting part of the visit (well, for a few of us) was the fact that they had a giant floor piano replicating the one in the Tom Hanks film, “Big”. Surprisingly, not many people knew of this film, so Miss Inglesfield and I had to step up and give them a sneak peak of one of the most iconic scenes. After only a few minutes of rehearsal we were surrounded by a pretty impressive sized audience all cheering us on as we absolutely smashed the duet of “Heart and Soul”. This was closely followed by Miss Serrechia’s amazing *attempt* at “Do, Ray, Me”, which got a cheer of its own.
We left Rockerfeller on a high, feeling like we had just stepped out of the film, then headed out for some food at Bupa di Beppo before the show. Anastasia was an interesting one – the music was amazing with the main character of Anastasia giving an excellent performance. We were left wanting more from other cast members, however it was our first Broadway show, and everyone enjoyed the experience. The end of the show meant the end of our second day, and time to go to bed – where Miss Inglesfield would no longer have to dream about what it might be like to be in an iconic scene of a Tom Hanks film…
Thursday, 21 February
Waking up from a busy schedule, Thursday came upon us, yet with another packed itinerary for the day ahead. Beginning the morning with an New York Maccies breakfast, complete with hot cakes (equivalent to pancakes) and way-too-strong coffee, we portrayed the typical tourists and took some iconic photos, displaying some strange positions on the red steps at Tyne Square. After some more candid photos taken on the way to the studio, we arrived at Ripley-Grier studios for our second performing arts workshop. The workshop named “Step by Step” focussed on dance, after misleading some members of the group into thinking it was about the classic song from Whitney Houston. After some misleading information was cleared, we met a very energetic and bubbly character named Jeff who would be our teacher and motivator for the morning. Before the 2-hour bopping commenced, Jeff casually mentioned that he was actually mentored by the real “Bob Fosse”, from which the group reacted as a star-struck fan, with one individual death dropping to the floor leaving Jeff snorting with laughter that could’ve been heard from the Statue of Liberty! After a lovely unhealthy breakfast, we soon realised that Jeff was going to make us “WORK” and hit us with a gruelling warm up. This was filled with squats, press ups which were accomplished by the accompaniment of Jeff’s bop and a half throwback playlist, including audience participation singing High School Musical whilst in plank position. In addition, much to the teacher’s entertainment, we also performed the canon sequence to Sponge Bob Square Pants. For the main duration of the workshop, we were taught and worked on a dance musical number to a song named “Fearless”, from the hit musical and film “Mean Girls”. The number was mainly a jazz style, however included some improvisation moments in which individuals of the group took this to their advantage and presented their creativity into the song, much to everyone’s enjoyment. After comprehending the movement quickly, the class ran the number several times and in smaller groups and showcased their technical ability, strength and sass and most importantly individuality. The only downside to the workshop was that nobody could work out the air conditioning, leaving around 25 students feeling very sweaty. Saying goodbye to Jeff (who also told us he used to dance with Ms Darbus from High School Musical), we ventured to a large tourist shop in which the majority of the group became NYPD patrollers from buying marketing t-shirts and hoodies whilst everyone else splashed the cash and resulted in our wallets nearly being empty. Splitting off for lunch where some headed to pizzerias and others enjoyed their first anticipated “Chick Fli A”.
In the afternoon, all the students headed to the Radio City Hall for a full backstage door around the indoors largest auditorium the world. Following tour guide “Travis?”, we were taken around the whole building, including seeing the original plans of the renovation and the rehearsal studio space where the world-wide recognised “Rockette” dancers practice and audition at. We also learnt here that the ballet bars placed here are higher than normal for harder stretches. Members of the group including Annie and Sophie and Miss Inglesfield and Miss Serrechia had to try for themselves and demonstrated their flexibility – our tour guide, on the other hand, failed to do so. Finally the tour ended with the group having the chance to meet a real Rockette and have a Q &A session where we could learn more about what it takes to earn this role in the industry.
Having our last supper together at the iconic Planet Hollywood, we enjoyed some of America’s favourite cuisine. Towards the end of the meal, the teachers dished out some awards that were earned from both workshops. Beth, George, Owen and Emelia all won awards for the funniest moments. Ryan and Annie won the award for “Best Effort and Performance” in workshop 1 and workshop 2 and Lewis won the overall award, leaving him with a big smile and his prize of a New York mug.
The night ended with everyone watching “The Book of Mormon” at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre which failed to disappoint. What was even more exciting is that Bud (the performer who taught us in workshop) was actually playing the main character of Elder Price on the same show we were seeing and we were able to recognise the movement sequence we learnt in the workshop. With a clever production and comedic lyrics with the live music, the content was certainly surprisingly, but left everyone in fits of laughter for the entire duration.
Friday, 22 February
Friday morning came, meaning we had to pack all our stuff because it was our last day. We went for our usual Starbucks for breakfast and took our typical tourist pictures of our cups.
We then had to get all 39 students on the Subway to the end of the line to get on the Ellis Island Ferry, hence the shocked photo because it was all successful. After boarding the Ferry, I took a very memorable photo of Miss Inglefield posing as the Statue of Liberty (phone torch on and grabs glove as a book). Seeing the statue and where all the US immigration took place was exiting and educational, because they are both some of the historical features that New York is known for.
After the ferry tour, we walked down to Central Park to have some free time, get some food and to go iceskating. With boots on, we hobbled onto the ice to discover that neither Annie or Beth could skate at all, Miss Inglesfield was mediocre and all of us managed to avoid doing a ‘Gemma Collins’. After an amazing time skating (and falling over), we headed to Times Square for the last time, where we had been staying for the past four days before getting on the bus to the airport. We had our overnight flight to Heathrow while being woke up to be given some chicken curry (#wheresthechicken). After landing in Heathrow, we found out our plane was delayed, but finally we set off to Manchester, which felt like 10 minutes, and onto the last home straight – the bus back to school. This trip has been an unforgettable amazing experience and we’d like to thank all the teachers involved in organising it.
Jess & Sophie
For some of us, this trip was our last of many Performing Arts trips. From London to Paris, New York has definitely topped them all! We have had the most amazing time and will remember this experience as a trip of a lifetime. However, we couldn’t have done it without Miss Inglesfield, Miss Serrechia, Mrs Gregory and Mr Phillips and they have made our whole experience amazing with their funny jokes and positive outlook.
We have loved every second of New York and couldn’t have asked for a better trip.
Sophie, Lizzy T, Lewis, Lizzy K, Jess, Abbie, Annie, Katie and Ryan.