March 31, 2014 saw NYC’s Film Anthology Archives packed with ESL learners, teachers, and enthusiasts. The “Voice & Rhythm” Event was well under-way with the three main sponsors well-represented: Broadway Dance Center dancers put on a spirited opening performance and later ended the night with passionate freestyle dancing; Rennert students shared a lively music video to the tune of Jay Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind”; and the DFA shared videos from several of its ESL filmmakers.
DFA videos included three short pieces from international students. Daniel Adminokan from Nigeria showed a trailer for his short film Twisted, a dramatic thriller. Carina Silva Alves from Portugal shared an anime-esque adventure based on a 30-second short she’d made with her siblings while in middle school. The entire short was made with the use of a greenscreen. Finally, the DFA presentations were rounded out by a hot music video featuring belly-dancing from Turkey’s Nergis Senturk.
Of course, the main events for the evening were the presentations by Fluency MC (Jason R. Levine) and Rachel Smith of Rachel’s English, two big YouTube personalities. They did not disappoint!
Fluency MC started strong, performing his hit “Stick Stuck Stuck (The Irregular Verb Song)” and getting the whole crowd of 100+ participants to sing along. All attendees got a free MP3 of the song in their gift packets. He also sang “That’s What’s Up” and “Get a Life,” two songs focused on two of the more versatile and therefore confusing words in the English language: up and get. His segment concluded with his “Rhyme & Rhythm” instrumental, a back-and-forth with the audience getting them to rap-respond to questions in full sentences.
Rachel blew the audience away when, in the first minutes of her presentation, she put her microphone aside and belted out a line from Madame Butterfly. A former opera singer, her take on learning English is different from that of the average person. Her technique is all about learning which syllables should be stressed and which shouldn’t, so that the language sounds natural. Her theory on how mastering sounds alone isn’t enough was fascinating; she concluded by saying that, when speaking a foreign language, “It shouldn’t feel as easy as speaking your own language. It should feel silly, weird, stupid, embarrassing… Make it feel different.” If you do that, you’re closer to getting it right.
Additionally, the night was absolutely loaded with prizes for attendees. Prizes included a day trip to Philadelphia, facials, sweatshirts, chocolate, dance classes, and lots more… but the biggest reaction came when a girl won a Circle Line Tour and decided to bring her best friend with her.
Later in the evening, her best friend won her own prize – a free film editing course at the DFA!
By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain