Potter Fest

Story and photos by Emily Steinhardt

Thousands of people wandered around Germantown Avenue on Oct. 21 as Harry Potter Festival took over Chestnut Hill. Attendees enjoyed everything from Butter Beer to brooms as they explored the 12 block festival that doubled in size since last year.

Chestnut Hill College was host to the Annual Philadelphia Brotherly Love Cup, a Quidditch tournament that local colleges could compete in.

The day was filled with costumes and characters from the books as people of all ages lived in the world of Harry Potter.

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Avada Kedavra! Voldemort causes trouble all over the festival by picking wand fights with any Muggle who dares.

Hip-hop legend critiques artists’ music live on air

By Theresa Rothmiller

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He was about to put out just an album titled “Newark Illustrated”; instead, he made it into a movement.

“I had shirts with “Lil’ seven, album coming soon”,” James Stokes said. “Everywhere we went people would say, ‘There go them Newark Illustrated guys.’ In that moment, the lightbulb went off. I said if I was to put this album out, nobody would ever wear another [Newark Illustrated] T-shirt. I didn’t put the album out as that, and just ran with the movement.”

Oct. 12, James “Big Seven” Stokes, founder of Newark Illustrated Marketing and Promotions, sat down to discuss his 20 years of experience in the music business and his support for unsigned artists. In the beginning of his career, Stokes recalls becoming a New Jersey household name at a very young age.

“I was 13 and everybody that I was breakdancing with were 21 years old and up,” Stokes said. “It was unheard of for a 11, 12, 13-year-old to really be into hip-hop. My roots go very deep.”

Stokes reminisced on his travels as a kid, his quick gain of popularity, and how his friend wrote his lyrics until he was a freshman in high school.

According to Stokes, he needed a rap for school and his rap partner, Hassan 7-11, was sick. He said he put his mind to it and wrote a rap inspired by a teacher who doubted he would pass his class.

Stokes recalls that as the moment when his confidence as a writer began to grow.

By 12th grade, Stokes met his rap partner “Hahz the Rippa.” The two formed a hip-hop group called “Hard We’re,” and caught the eye of Jay-Z during the early 90’s.

After being offered a chance to be the first group on Roc-A-Fella Records, the group separated six months later, and Stokes states that his take-away message from that situation was that he needed to start his own label.

When he obtained his own label, “Nonstop Entertainment,” he realized his own daughter could be a star.

“One Christmas, I told my 10-year-old daughter [now Miss Nana] that I wanted her to say something on my voicemail,” Stokes said. He put together a brief rap for her to mimic. According to Stokes, people thought Miss Nana was a young boy, saying,“That little boy sounds dope.” Approximately three months later, people began telling Stokes that his daughter was the better rapper.

“Once I noticed how everybody took to her, I fell back to be a manager,” Stokes said. “There was no way I would have gotten behind Nana if there wasn’t anything there. This was a business decision. The fact that it was my daughter was a bonus.”

Through his recognition, Stokes connected with former radio personality and current television show host Wendy Williams. At that time, Williams was searching for artists to record promos. After Stokes submitted a few of his own promos, someone suggested Nana try one.

“I put together a rap [for Nana] to a Lil’ Bow Wow song and gave it to Wendy,” Stokes said.

According to Stokes, not only was Williams calling to make a deal to manage Nana, Bow Wow had an interest in her as well. After Bow Wow announced on BET’s 106 & Park that Nana would be joining him, Stokes accompanied his daughter on a 10 city tour, then a 20 city tour two years later.

From 2009 to 2013, Stokes and his Nana went on hiatus. Stokes said he realized while building Nana’s career, his dreams were put aside.

“I lost my identity,” Stokes explained. “My name was Nana’s father. I wasn’t even Little Seven anymore.”

Stokes described the experience both as a gift and a curse. Instead of sending hundreds of messages in first person (as Nana), he should have taken some credit, Stokes claimed.

Today, Stokes hosts his own live radio show “Time 2 Grind,” co-signed by hip-hop legend DJ Kay Slay. Airing every Monday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST., and found on Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, Facebook and more.

“It started as something to do while Nana was in college,” Stokes admitted. “Any arena I’m in, I try to dominate it hard. I named it ‘Time 2 Grind’ because of that.”

Stokes explained that it started from a show on another network. After working for different stations over the years, he realized his name and brand were more recognizable than theirs. He said he’d rather have his own show.

Similar to a blessing in disguise, he experienced with his album, approximately one year ago, fans suggested a great idea for Stokes show.

In the beginning, he hosted one show every sunday, “Big Seven and Friends.” Both unsigned and established artists were brought on the show. Meanwhile, 15 minutes were open for artists to call in to rap or sing live.

“Sundays became a bit stagnated, so I said I’m going to start a show called, ‘Hip hop 101,’” Stokes said. It consisted of unsigned artists having their album or mixtape reviewed live.

“For about a week, I had nothing to review, but had thousands of songs sent for the mixtape,” Stokes said. “It kind of came organically.”

He explained how listeners gave their feedback, and then someone asked to make a donation to have their song reviewed.

“The lightbulb went off and I said, ‘Okay, donate $20,’” Stokes recalled. “The artist paid. I played the record and gave my honest feedback.”

One artist after another began to donate, so he changed the entire show to that format. According to Stokes, the show has been very successful. He has thousands of listeners and viewers from Philadelphia, New York and Chicago, to Miami, Los Angeles, Minnesota, and more.

Next, Stokes is relaunching Time 2 Grind radio, adding a Gospel and women inspired segments. He said he wants people to understand that Time 2 Grind is a tv/radio show, and isn’t always hip hop related. As for NI-Marketing, they’re currently working on Miss Nana’s new project.

“My pride and joy is helping unsigned artists get from A to [not even Z] to N, and I’m satisfied,” Stokes said.

Contact Theresa Rothmiller at communitarian@mail.dccc. edu

The Arts

Story and photos by Victoria Lavelle

It was curtains up for the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus (PGMC) in the Large Auditorium at DCCC’s Marple campus, a Campus Life event to promote diversity at the college on Nov. 2.

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Under the direction of artistic director J Men’s Chorus
performs in DCCC’s Large Auditorium.

The chorus performs music together and is key in the creation of new choral compositions. Under the artistic direction of Joseph J. Buches, along with collaborative piano accompanist, Tim Brown, the PGMC performed a variety of Broadway melodies that included selections from Kinky Boots and a vast arrangement of adult contemporary classics.

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PGMC collaborative piano accompanist Tim Brown plays “True Colors.”

PGMC’s Brotherly Love ensemble sang “Bridge Over Trouble Water” with Broadway legend Jennifer Holiday at the 2017 Out& Equal Workplace Summit Galain Philadelphia. As an introduction into the chorus’s rendition of “True Colors,” the chorus shared anecdotes from their recent performance with recording artist Cyndi Lauper.

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Andrew Crowley sings Broadway solo from “Kinky Boots.”

The chorus is a cultural fixture in Philadelphia and is one of the oldest gay men’s choruses in the nation. It was founded in 1981 when former director Gerald Davis toured the city’s LGBT district with just three other members to sing Christmas carols during the holiday season throughout the mid 80’s.

The chorus became the first LGBT musical group to perform at City Hall for the Philadelphia City Council in 97’, and the growth of PGMC took off in the new millennium.

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Audience members of all ages enjoyed the performances by the PGMC’s
Brotherly Love ensemble.

The chorus’ mission as stated on their official website reads: “The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus entertains audiences, supports communities, and fosters acceptance through exceptional musical performance. Our vision is a community that celebrates differences and a chorus that inspires change.”

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Joshua Edwards performs a Broadway song solo.

Local dance studio continues to share happiness

By Linda Pang 

“Come on, Tyler,” Julie Berger calls, walking through the grass to the parking lot. Tyler is sniffing the ground, but moves closer to Berger when she calls. He follows her up the dark wooden stairs of a brick building with a green awning.

“He’s my son,” she says, laughing, and tugs on the leash attached to the small white and grey Shichon. Berger adds that he is three years old and a mix of Bichon Frisé and Shih Tzu. “He’s the studio mascot,” she explains, smiling. “Students ask for him by name!”

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In a cozy waiting area, a few women are chatting with each other on wooden benches and a large, red suede couch. The large window that looks into the main dance studio shows a darkened classroom, dimly lit by rope lights, and sounds of a slow pop song wafts through the closed door. Shadowy figures can be seen inside doing cool-down stretches in their fitness class.

Paintings and posters of dancers line the walls. Nearby, a red, fabric-covered table displays tan and black ladies’ latin and ballroom dance shoes with gemstone-covered-heels that sparkle when they catch the light.

Off leash, Tyler roams the waiting area as the previous class finishes. Berger exchanges her sandals for tap shoes, grabs her pink covered laptop, and heads into the studio room, where the adult tap students are waiting.

“Welcome, it’s week one,” Berger says, motioning her students towards the center. The sounds of clicks, clacks, and taps fill the room as they make their way into a circle.

“I’m so excited for this new choreography!” Berger declares. “But first, let’s go around the room and say your name and one fun tap fact to fill the room with good vibes!”

The class of eight women and one man take turns sharing their names and facts, with laughter, cheers, and applause from their classmates. Berger instructs the class to form two lines and face the front floor-to-ceiling mirrors, which are bordered by rope lighting giving off a warm glow beneath the fluorescent overhead lights. She returns to the front of the room to begin warm-up.

“Eight shuffles front, three, four… seven, eight, side…back, now four,” Berger calls out, as she flicks her leg and taps her shoe. “Both feet now to the side… toe, heel, toe, step and clap.”

The faces in the mirror look serious as students concentrate to follow the pattern, watching her feet in the mirror. Click. Clack. Clickity. Clack. Clack. The sounds of 10 pairs of tap shoes moving in unison fill the room and echo off of the walls, mirrors, and smooth tan floors.

“It’s okay to smile and have fun,” Berger says, reminding her students with a laugh.

Berger, 34, is the founder and artistic director of Salsa in the Suburbs Dance Studio in Media, Pa., and her days are filled with both teaching and administrative responsibilities. This past May, the studio celebrated its 10-year anniversary and Berger couldn’t be happier.

The happiness shows as tap class begins wrapping up an hour later with a mini exercise. After each student gets a chance to show-off to applause from their classmates, Berger gathers the group into a circle again with their hands in the center.

“One, two, three…” she calls out.

“Best tap session ever!” shouts the entire group in reply, raising their hands into the air as a team.

After class, Berger quickly checks-in at the desk, while swapping tap shoes for strappy, satin dance shoes with gem-covered heels.

She is multi-tasking: answering questions from a student, chatting with Kim, changing shoes, and instructing her co-teacher for the next class to get the group started. Ryan Morfei, a high school student and the studio’s youngest Latin dance instructor, nods and heads to the studio, calling the intermediate bachata performance students to follow as he walks past.

“Dancers, get into two lines and look ready to warm up!” Berger says, calling out to the dancers as she closes the door. Berger and Morfei take their places in the front of the room, leading the co-ed group of dancers through bachata dance warm-ups.

Berger fell in love with dance at a young age, starting tap classes at age three. As she became more experienced, she started teaching hip-hop and tap lessons at age 14 to classes of eight-year-olds, before teaching tap lessons at a Latin dance studio later on. Berger said although she chose to study theater in college, she wanted to veer back to her first love of performing arts: dance.

Berger added that her first vivid memory of salsa was in a London nightclub, when she was 20 and studying abroad.

“It was mystical,” she says. “I wanted to understand what it was.” Her next vivid experience was in France, when she went to teach English.

“I started the studio because I fell in love with salsa dancing and wanted to share that with everyone,” Berger says. “I felt like I had to share this great secret with the world!”

Her first salsa classes were taught in a small, rented room above a pizza shop.

Today, Salsa in the Suburbs Dance Studio offers a variety of classes for adult students, mostly in the evenings and on weekends, plus special dance socials and workshops. There are Latin dance classes such as salsa, bachata, beginner and intermediate group performance classes, plus fitness classes such as Zumba and yoga. Berger adds that other dance styles, such as ballroom, swing, belly dance, ballet, and burlesque, are available currently through private lessons and half-day workshops.

According to Berger, adult tap has been offered at Salsa in the Suburbs for only the past year, after she finished creating her Latin dance curriculum, a systemized and detailed syllabus for each course from beginner to advanced dancers.

“I’ve videotaped the patterns and trained the teachers so they can all teach it,” Berger says. “It was hard before to take a vacation, now it’s so easy to just go.” She adds that the instructors can also use the videos as reference and, with new instructors to help teach, she was finally able to find an open slot to offer tap classes.

“It’s one of my happiest hours of the week,” Berger exclaims. “My first dance language.”

But Berger admits that there are still daily obstacles and running her own business isn’t always smooth sailing. “Some obstacles right now are figuring out where the company should go,” Berger says, adding that another challenge is setting long-term goals for the company’s growth and future vision.

Back in the classroom, Berger lets Morfei takes the reins as he explains the next section of choreography. At times, the class splits into two groups, based on gender, to work on footwork and arm styling for specific sections, Morfei leading the males.

“It needs to be a cross, step-out, and lunge,” Berger instructs, demonstrating at the same time. She adds choreography and then isolates just the arms for practice.

During the last minutes of a two-hour class, Berger calls out the choreography they have learned while the dancers walk through the steps. The dancers try it twice before she adds the music, encouraging them to try it at regular speed.

“It’s fast!” exclaims a student in surprise as the selection ends.

Berger agrees, reminding them that there are still many weeks until their upcoming performance to get it perfect, as they exit the studio room.

While she is still thankful for finding the current location, Berger adds that she has big dreams for her company. Berger explains that initially she was renting a private space by the hour and is now renting her own space with two studio rooms. “I wanted my own space in Media,” she says. “But I didn’t even know what that meant.” Now that she’s been in the current space for a few years, she says she has an idea.

“Maybe form another studio location or find a place to have a bigger studio” she says, explaining that it would require having a completely full program to fill the studio with classes all day.

“We have a successful daytime yoga program finally,” Berger says. “In the day, you’re really limited to your audience.” She adds that she hopes to fill all of the quiet time, so that she can feel like the studio has truly outgrown its current space, while continuing to pursue its mission of using dance as a “vehicle to enhance and change lives.”

“There’s a quote about if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life,” Berger explains. “I sometimes wish I could see more friends or have evenings free, but I really love it here. There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”

Contact Linda Pang at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

 

DCCC students join thousands for CollegeFest

By Victoria Lavelle

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Thousands of college students gathered at Philadelphia’s Dilworth Park for the 10th annual CollegeFest, a city-wide festival full of giveaways, entertainment, free admission to museums and more on Sept. 9th.

Produced by Campus Philly, the event welcomed college students with a valid college ID to explore 14 city exhibits, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, and Eastern State Penitentiary.

More than 30 students from Delaware County Community College registered for the event which cost $5 to cover transportation. Organized by Breanne Rogers, assistant director of the Campus Life office, the group gathered outside the Marple campus main entrance early Saturday and filled a local school district bus to near capacity.

“We have a large group of DCCC International students who I am pleased to have join us for CollegeFest this year,” Rogers said. “Today’s event will be a beneficial occasion because it will introduce them to the city of Philadelphia, while comfortably being surrounded by their peers and friends.”

Event organizer Campus Philly is a nonprofit organization that fuels economic growth by encouraging college students to study, explore, live and work in the Greater Philadelphia tri-state region. According to their mission statement, the organization “helps college students find that moment when they fall in love with Philadelphia.

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For once that moment occurs, students will begin to think of building their futures in Philadelphia.”

A 2010 Campus Philly survey of 4,600 undergraduates, graduate students and alumni reported 48 percent of all non-native area college alumni stayed in the greater-Philadelphia area after graduation, a sharp increase compared to the 29 percent findings from a 2004 survey conducted by Knowledge Industry Partnership (KIP).

“CollegeFest has evolved over the years, even before Campus Philly was a full-fledged organization,” said Brynn Monaghan, the Campus Philly communications manager. “Introducing students to the area has become our focus, while making it the best five hours in Philly with the help of local museums, exhibits, vendors, and entertainment.”

With an autumn breeze in the air, the venue kicked off with a wide range of activities. Students downloaded new mobile applications, competed in relay races, spun game wheels for prizes, and explored the city by riding the Philly PHLASH Downtown Loop tourist trolley for free.

An array of businesses partnered with CollegeFest for exclusive setups in the tent village, which included the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) student lounge, the AT&T cellular charging station, the Capital One photo booths, and the Vanguard dunking station.

“I am excited to be attending CollegeFest because it offers a chance to meet students from other universities and colleges throughout the Delaware Valley, and Eastern State Penitentiary tops the list of places to visit today,” said DCCC nursing student Rebecca Bennett.

Philadelphia’s native hip-hop artist Chill Moody headlined the entertainment with a live performance on the mainstage at noon. The crowd cheered as he sang chart topping songs including “Home Again,” “Never Fall,” and “Inhale, Exhale.” Afterwards, Moody stepped out into the audience to meet with fans and pose for photos. The official disc jockey was DJ Reezey, and this year’s emcee was Akeen Dixon.

Before students left, they took advantage of free swag from a variety of organizations and companies including Go- Puff, Monster Energy, IKEA, and L.L. Bean. Sunglasses, key chains, pens, backpacks, notebooks, and gift certificates were all part of student takeaways as students walked away from the festival with bags and hands full.

To close out the event, Philadelphia’s collegiate were offered 10 dollar discount tickets to attend the Temple Owls vs. Villanova Tigers football game at Lincoln Financial Field.

Vivian Nguyen, a DCCC business administration major and first-timer to the event, described her expectations as enthusiastic.

“I don’t know my way around Philadelphia because it’s such a big and busy city, so the main attraction for me was the transportation in combination with the longlist of free venues offered,” Neguyen said. “Though I thoroughly enjoyed the brain exhibit at the Franklin Institute, I wish we would have had more time to explore some of the other venues. I will likely return next year for the opportunity.”

Contact Victoria Lavelle at communitarian@m ail.dccc.edu