Two Bel Air teenagers — one an actor, the other one a dancer — took their crafts to New York City this spring to share their talents and to learn more.
Sofia Bordner, 13, performed at the end of April as part of The Camp Broadway Kids, a musical theatre ensemble comprised of 60 children, ages 12 to 16, who were featured at The New York Pops 35th Birthday Gala at Carnegie Hall.
Riley Humes, 15, of Darlington, was selected to perform her original choreography in New York for the Dance UP! Teen Choreographers, a 92Y Harkness Dance Center initiative that provides young choreographers a platform in New York to show their work.
Until recently, living in Maryland had been the closest Sofia had ever gotten to New York City.
She spent three days in New York, one of two actors from Maryland invited to participate in the New York Pops 35th Birthday Gala, directed by New York Pops Music Director Steven Reineke.
The production on April 30 was the culmination of three days of rehearsals featuring master classes in vocal performance, dancing and acting led by Camp Broadway’s creating team that included Director/Choreographer Cynthia Thole and Music Director Christine Riley.
Some of the best stars from movies and Broadway performed composer and honoree Alan Meken's songs, including the original voice of Ariel - Jodie Benson (The Little Mermaid), Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts), as well as the original voice of Hercules and and Pocahontas along with many other Broadway stars.
Menken surprised everyone by playing and singing a medley of his own songs, including songs from “Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Tangled,” “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Hercules,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Pocahontas” and “Newsies.”
Sofia performed in two numbers, "Now is the Time to Seize the Day" from Newsies with the Camp Broadway kids ensemble and "Be our Guest" with the entire star-studded cast, including Menken.
“It was very exciting. At first, I was a little nervous, but I warmed up to it and it was a very rewarding experience for me,” Sofia said. “It helped me realize I enjoy performing and it brings me to life.”
Sofia is saying farewell, however, to her local theater community. She and her family are moving to Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Fla. — Sofia’s father is in the Air Force — after nearly five years in Bel Air.
“I’m really going to miss the theater here,” Sofia said. “They’re like a family. You get really close and they really are like family.”
Sofia has performed locally in 14 shows through six different community theater groups, including a production of “Titanic the Musical” in May.
The Scottfield Theatre Company performance was her last locally. Sofia was part of the ensemble, since there were no lead roles for children.
Sofia is part of a theater family — her mom, Sariela, father, Ralph, older sister, Isabella, 18, and younger brother, Gabriel, 9, also perform locally.
“My parents do it to be with us, my brother just tags along. My sister loves it, but she’s more interested in art,” Sofia said.
“We perform as a family and we found our theater family here,” Sariela said. “We will have to start over.”
Sariela said she’s looking forward to opportunities for Sofia and the rest of the family in Florida and has already been looking for opportunities near their new home.
While acting is Sofia’s passion, she doesn’t plan to pursue a career in stage, she said.
Since she was 7, her dream has been to graduate from college (in New York, of course, to be close to Broadway), perform on Broadway, if possible, then move somewhere else to be a high school drama teacher.
Dancing in NYC
Riley Humes, who just finished her freshman year at John Carroll, performed her original choreography, Outside In, onstage in New York City in mid-April.
“It went really good. My studio director was there and it make me feel like I could do it on my own,” Humes said.
Her piece was selected from nearly 75 applications this year from across the United States.
“It was a really good opportunity for me to get out there. I do more local things with studios,” she said. “For this, I was more independent and got a chance to get in the dance world by myself and really see what I could do.”
92Y is a noted producer of dance and presents three dance series annually, including Dig Dance, on which Humes' dance was performed. Leading choreographers, dance scholars, critics and composers also perform in the dance series at the Y.
The opening of her modern dance piece can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=_quGwwzy4rs.
The Harkness Dance Center was founded by iconic early modern dancers over 85 years ago (Doris Humphrey was the first director), while 92Y was established in 1874. Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Erick Hawkins, Pearl Primus, Jerome Robbins, Paul Taylor, among many, many early and distinguished choreographers on which the dance field was built premiered their groundbreaking work at 92Y. 92Y continues to present excellence noting the major choreographers and dancers of the 21st century.
Riley said she got a lot of positive feedback from her performance.
“A lot of new people came to me and told me how good it was,” Riley said. “That really helped my confidence level.”
Riley has been dancing when she was 4 years old. She and her mom were driving in the car, they saw a sign and stopped at the studio. She’s been dancing ever since.
She spends two to three hours a day dancing — ballet, modern, hip hop, jazz and contemporary.
“It’s mostly a way for me to release my emotions, somewhere I can go to get everything out,” Riley said. “If I’m having a hard time at school, or within the studio, when I start dancing, instead of talking about emotions I start dancing and they just all come out.”
Riley hopes to become a professional dancer, though she’s not sure what type yet. She plans to attend college to study dance and see where that takes her.
For now, she’ll spend her summer continuing to dance.