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Category: Entertainment

Robert Taylor Jr. teaches at Visions Dance Studio




Photos by Anthony J. Machcinski/ Students at Visions Dance Studio perform part of a dance routine, taught to them by Robert Taylor Jr. View the video at www.theobserver.com


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Youthful, happy and charismatic are words that describe performer Robert Taylor Jr., who taught classes at Visions Dance Studio on Midland Ave. in Kearny on Sept. 7.
Taylor Jr. became well known after his appearance on “So You Think You Can Dance” in the show’s eighth season. He came to Visions Dance Studio to fill in for an instructor who couldn’t come in.
“I had asked one of my new instructors if she could come in, but she couldn’t,” explained Visions owner Toni Olsen. “She knows a lot of top people and she called me and said Robert Taylor Jr. could come in and teach the class. He came in over the summer one day, and everybody had a great time.”
Not only is Taylor a capable dancer, but also he is able to use his own personality in helping the children.
“My connection with kids is the fact that I’m just a big kid myself,” Taylor said. “When I’m looking at them and see them laughing and smiling and they have that promise in their lives, it reminds me of when I was a kid. They motivate me.”
Taylor started dancing at the age of 16 after watching a dance show in high school.
“They were doing all different stuff and then I said to myself, ‘That looks pretty cool.’ Then I took classes. I didn’t do hip-hop at the time, it was just modern dancing.”
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in dance, Taylor joined the group the Amount Boyz, where he learned his hip-hop.
“I first realized (I wanted to be a professional dancer) when I started training with the Amount Boyz and I saw them in a bunch of music videos and thought it was something I could do,” he explained.
As Taylor got older, success started to come his way, such as “So You Think You Can Dance.” As he realized, this later-in-life success does not happen often.
“When I got older and turned 27, 28, I had some doubts here and there. The older I got, however, the more things started to happen to me, which was pretty exciting,” Taylor said. “Usually, it’s the other way around. I’m still dancing and I still feel like a 19-year-old.”
Taylor’s big break came when he was selected for the eighth season of “So You Think You Can Dance.”
“I auditioned quite a few times. It was my fourth attempt to audition,” he said. “They have call times in different cities. I went to Brooklyn and made it to Vegas and six weeks later, that’s when I found out I made the top 20.”
The experience was a highlight of Taylor’s career.
“I was able to take on different things from choreographers,” he said. “They told their stories through dancing. A lot of those stories inspired me to be a better person and improve my skills as a dancer.”
Now that the experience with “So You Think You Can Dance” is over, Taylor looks to continue on the experiences from the show.
“Right now, I’m preparing to do music as a pop solo artist. I’m going to start training in my genre of dance and solidify my popping, locking, weaving, and breaking,” explained Taylor.
The Washington Heights resident currently does not have any set-in-stone aspirations for his future, but rather one broad one that people can carry on in their daily lives.
“I want to entertain the world. To make everyone smile, sing, and dance with me.”


Top five movies of the summer

By Anthony J. Machcinski

As Labor Day weekend comes and goes on the calendar and the leaves on trees begin to turn, the 2011 summer movie season comes to a close.
This year, moviegoers have seen everything from romantic comedies like “Friends With Benefits” to science-fiction thrillers like “Super 8.”
With quality films coming out nearly every week, creating a top five list for the best movies of the summer is as tough as it has ever been.  Several good movies ended up outside the top five.
The much talked about “Hangover: Part II” missed the list because it failed to live up to the standard the original created.  “Green Lantern” also missed because, although the film was stunning visually, the mixture of comedy and action was not the right blend for the Green Lantern character.
Coming in at No. 5 was “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Captain America came into theaters July 22 and did not disappoint. While the film comes out of the same mold of other super hero films, the ending puts enough of a twist on the film to crack that mold and keep the audience waiting for “The Avengers” movie next summer.
Another hyped film that lived up to its billing was “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” What made the latest “Apes” movie a thrilling and interesting prequel to the original “Planet of the Apes” was a story that was the focus of the film. While all the action and cinematography were brilliant, the story remained the core of the film, as it should be.
No. 3 could have easily been No. 1. Shia LaBeouf identified with people searching for a purpose, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley successfully replaced Megan Fox as LaBeouf’s love interest and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” pulled in $97 million on the opening weekend to create a film that was successful in both money and story.
After a subpar second film, the third installment of the “Transformers” series included many things an audience could hope for: a love story, explosions, comedy and depth to many of the characters.
The second-best film came a bit early, having been released April 29, but it soon became the Rickey Henderson of the 2011 summer movie season, leading off the season with a bang.
“Fast Five,” the fifth installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, starred its consistent cast members Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster, as well as adding Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to the mix.  The story continues as the audience meets up with Walker, Diesel and Brewster on the run in Brazil and trying to find a way out.
“Fast Five” could have easily been the No. 1 movie, with all the action, thrills, and drama that have been in the series since the first film nearly 10 years ago. What holds “Fast Five” back from being the best on the top five is the inconsistency. “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift,” released in 2006, seems to have been ignored, since one of the main characters in “Tokyo Drift,” who dies in that film, is alive in “Fast Five.” While many defending the franchise will say the films are just out of sequence, the ending of “Fast Five,” which alludes to a sixth film, has audiences too focused on how to piece the storyline together, instead of leaving the theater appreciating the story itself.
As for the top movie of the summer, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” takes the cake. Audiences flocked to theaters to view the most anticipated movie of the season, and it did not disappoint, as evidenced by an opening weekend of $169 million and an estimated overall gross of $906 million in the first month. The film wowed audiences, with action, suspense, great visuals, and great acting to go along with all that.
The 2011 summer movie season has been as good as any in the past. One can only hope that the 2012 season will follow suit, filled with blockbusters such as “The Expendables 2,” “The Dark Night Rises,” “Star Trek 2” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

Lyndhurst-rooted comedian takes West Coast by storm

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Thirty-four years after Stephen Boehringer left Lyndhurst for California with his mother, he continues to grow as a comedian. But it was not easy.
After spending time on the West Coast, Boehringer experienced something that all comedians fear, getting booed off stage.
“They wanted a drunken Santa routine,” explained Boehringer. “When you’re booed and stuff, if you love the business and art of performing, that won’t get in your way.”
Indeed, he managed to take this negative situation and turn it into a learning experience.
“I didn’t let it get in my way,” said Boehringer.  “That sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore.”
Boehringer got into comedy after he moved to California. After talking to a girl who said he could perform, Boehringer went to an open mic night at a local stage to impress her. She never showed up at the event, but the young comedian’s rising career had begun.
One of the challenges that Boehringer faced while being in California was his New Jersey personality.
“I really learned how to cater my act to California,” he explained. “My basic personality and pace of my speech weren’t readily accepted in California. They didn’t quite get it, but it works very well now.”
Another part of Boehringer’s delivery that had to be changed was his strong opinions about his religion. These needed to be pulled back for audiences who would not understand or appreciate the jokes.
His strong opinions have forced him to lengthen the amount of time it has taken to produce newest effort … a sort of “how to” guide for fellow comics.
“I really have to edit myself on being too preachy,” Boehringer said. “It’s taking much longer than I’ve expected.”
The book, which Boehringer hopes will be completed and published by early 2012, will attempt to help other comedians by telling them about his own experiences and how to learn from them.
“This book is really about entertainment and comedy from the prospective of a non-secular audience and the challenges you face performing for them,” Boehringer explained.
Boehringer has been in California ever since he and his mother made the trek in 1977. Since then, he has been unable to return and perform in the town where  he was raised.
“Never had the opportunity to return (to Lyndhurst),” said Boehringer. “I think it’d be fun to see how my act plays there.”
Many people in the business attempt to define their success based on monetary value. Boehringer’s success is defined in other ways.
“Some people classify success is by the fame and the money,” Boehringer said. “Mine was completely different. It’s being confident in yourself and knowing what was on the paper and being confident. After six years, I got it. It’s when the hecklers don’t bother you and the jokes that don’t work don’t bother you. That’s success on the comedy stage.
After a successful 34-year career that even his role models, Bill Cosby and George Carlin, would be proud of, Boehringer realizes that there are further plateaus for his career to reach.
“What I want to do is have my stand-up act be more than just a stand-up act,” Boehringer explained, saying that he wants to include more music, presentations, and video displays.
When asked if he has future plans to move back to the East Coast, Boehringer said, “I’ve been married 23 years and have three kids. It doesn’t look like I’ll be back.”
However, it is this culture and atmosphere that he misses most.
“When you have a friend in New Jersey, you have a friend for life,” Boehringer explained. “The people are different. They may be more abrasive, but they’re just different.”
Boehringer will continue to perform on the West Coast and write his book, which is currently untitled, to be published next year.

Mansion hosts musicians

Photo by Anthony Machcinski/ Daryl Glenn (l.) is accompanied by pianist/vocalist Karen Dwyer.

By Anthony J. Machcinski

A warm sunshine filled the large windowed room at the Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center on Sunday as an intimate crowd of about 50 people attended the most recent Music at the Mansion concert.
The event featured several performers, including Daryl Glenn, Garry Novikoff, and D.C. Anderson. All who played for the audience at Oakeside did so as volunteers, taking time to promote their music and entertain the crowd.
Playing for the smaller-sized crowd was no issue for Glenn, who sang and played the guitar for the audience.
“I really like being able to look into people’s eyes,” Glenn explained. “That’s something because I really had to learn how to do since I was used to playing in large musicals on stage.”
Glenn, a former resident of Lexington, Ky., has been in musicals since he was in sixth grade, performing at a dinner theatre in Lexington. Thirty years later, Glenn is still performing.
On Sept. 18, Glenn, Jo Lynn Burkes, and others will be featured in the musical “Nashville,” based on the 1975 film of the same title by director Robert Altman. The group will perform at Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency Hotel in Uptown Manhattan.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Rising star Mia Borders moves through Kearny

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski


By Anthony J. Machcinski

While many young, modern, and popular female musicians have broken through to stardom through rap and pop music genres, Mia Borders is doing things her own way.
Not looking like the stereotypical, factory-produced pop star, Borders, with jeans, and aviator sunglasses, arrived at Donegal Saloon on Aug. 12 and gave the crowd a taste of rock music usually found only below the Mason-Dixon line.
From New Orleans,  the 24-year-old Borders grew up listening to bigger vocalists like Celine Dion and Whitney Houston, but as a teenager, her role models changed.
“I was very athletic and physical and always thought that it could be part of my show,” Borders said, who also lists James Brown and Otis Reading as inspirations for her music. “Now, it’s just not even close to where I want to be.”

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Jersey Four tribute to the Four Seasons

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Decades have passed since the Baby Boomer generation was young and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons had the top pop hits in the nation. Nearly 50 years after “Sherry” peaked at #1, the Jersey Four hope to pay tribute to those times gone by and to make their own hits. And this week, you can hear them in Lyndhurst.
Started four years ago by Anthony Newell and Joseph Cilento,  the Jersey Four tribute show has been touring the area. Group members have covered several bands from the 1960s and 1970s, including  the Four Seasons, Blues Brothers, Beach Boys, and Jay and the Americans.
“We got together when the hottest thing going was the Frankie Valli tribute for the Jersey Boys,” said drummer and co-founder Newell. “We had a liking for the Four Seasons, and they’re in demand for our area, but they don’t tour the area often enough.”

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

‘Captain America’ takes theaters by storm


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Without a doubt, one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, along with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two” and “Green Lantern,” is the always-recognizable “Captain America.”
“Captain America” is the story of underdog Steve Rogers, who persistently tries to make his way into the military during World War II, but is denied again and again due to a laundry list of physical ailments. Eventually, after going for his fifth try, he is accepted into a new program that enhances the body through its inner qualities, such as heroism.
The cast of the movie is a group of relatively unknown actors who do a great job of making the film relate to the audience. Chris Evans, who plays Rogers, does a great job in the beginning of the film to push the fact that Rogers is the underdog with a fighting spirit. Sebastian Stan, who plays Rogers’ long time friend James Barnes, also aids these traits. Barnes in the film is shown to be the picturesque American from the time period – tall, well-built and more than willing to serve.
As good as Evans and Stan are, the movie would not be one of the better releases of the summer without Rogers’ commanding officer, played by Tommy Lee Jones, and the villain Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving.
Weaving continues to cement himself as one of the best actors to play a villain for all-time. He is well known for his role in the “Matrix Trilogy” as Agent Smith, but has also done a great job voicing Megatron in the past three “Transformers” movies.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Stars in the skies

Suzanne is a renowned holistic psychic, life coach, relationship expert. What is unique is that she combines intuitive logic along with holistic clairvoyance. Suzanne is an internationally known clairvoyant, astrologer and and does intuitive readings. She is the 3rd generation of clairvoyant. She has been featured on television shows, radio and on magazines. Email Suzanne any of your questions and read her reply in our next installment of stars in the skies. astrosuzanne@gmail.com

Horoscope for  August 2011.
What will happen to you this month? Will you be meeting interesting people or evolve professionally? Both social and sentimental – Suzanne tells you all!

Aries (March 21st – April 21st)
Sentimental: You will be more concerned about your social life, giving less attention to your better half. Yet, he/she will shower you with lavish attention and do everything to make you happy. If you are single, a person from your past will resurface and want to interact once more.
Social: A dynamic and highly creative month. If your work is in the arts, you will be doing wonders. From the 10th, you will act in accordance with your ideas. Lady Luck smiles on you, and your charisma allows you to find support from your friends and co-workers. Around the 24th, it is possible you will receive a new offer with new responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to accept, even if they seem difficult to bear.

Taurus (April 22nd – May 22nd)
Sentimental: You will feel a little lonely at the beginning of month, but you won’t suffer too much from this isolation. On the contrary, you’ll stand back. Around the 7th, love at first sight or a strange meeting could have you spending some good times. In the second half of the month, you will feel surrounded by family and friends, who will bring you much happiness.
Social: The first week will be a little tense. You don’t get what you want, and the climate is somewhat burdensome. Then, things settle in and whatever you had planned will be bearing fruit. You can start to make plans as you are now in the driver’s seat. Around the 25th, it will be beneficial to use some diplomacy in your negotiations. A new position, dossier or even an interesting contract will be offered, but there will be pros and the cons.

Gemini (May 22nd – June 21st)
Sentimental: There could be love at first sight in the air, and you know very well where you are. You’ll experience delicious moments. In your relationship, sensuality will be present. However, you’ll go through some rough times. Beware of scenes of jealousy and doubts, which could poison your life. With your family, you reconcile with those you love. Nevertheless, some conflicts may arise at the end of the month. Stay zen.
Social: A rather quiet month. You do not have the heart for work; it’s better to take a vacation. However, if you are forced to work, better avoid being alone. To move forward and complete your projects, rely on teamwork. Mercury is in your sign and helps you communicate. But try not to act superficially and take into account the opinion of the members of your entourage. They can give you good ideas!

Cancer (June 22nd – July 21st)
Sentimental: The first week of the month can be a little tense. Love is in the foreground of your concerns, but you have many questions, without being able to find a soothing response. In the second half, all goes very quickly, and it is not you who directs the operations. However, you let go but you agree on new grounds with the loved one. Your life takes another turn, and you get out of the routine.
Social: You have your mind on vacation and don’t think too much of the job. Nevertheless, in the second half of the month, there’s a chance you could receive a very interesting proposal. Your future is at stake! Be careful! If you are working in communications or trade, and you can make beautiful business. But be careful not to sell your chickens before they’re hatched.

Leo (July 22nd – Aug. 21st)
Sentimental: You expect a lot from your partner, but he/she has other concerns in mind and cares little for yours. Be patient and avoid criticizing. Better be independent. If you are single, a missed appointment or a setback can give you the impression of not being desired. Do not worry too much, this is only a postponement!
Social: You have good ideas and projects in mind, but you’ll have to keep your feet on the ground. Careful, you shouldn’t let yourself be deluded by a colleague or an unscrupulous partner. You probably know the fable “The Fox and the Crow”? Remember the lesson of this fable and be warned against listening to flattery; it could be at your own expense! Turn a deaf ear to too many compliments. They are probably not sincere!

Virgo (Aug. 22nd – Sept. 21st)
Sentimental: A fairly pleasant month. Couples rely on tenderness and complicity. In the middle of the month, your libido is boosted. You’ll be very sensual and dare the original to spice up your relationship. If you are single, you’ll be surrounded by your friends. A meeting is possible, intense and unexpected. But you will have your mind elsewhere and will be completely unavailable to build a lasting relationship.
Social : At the beginning, a somewhat tense month. You are overloaded with work. A dossier or a problem with your employment prevents you from having peace of mind. Towards the middle of the month, you think about a new direction. Perhaps you feel the need to specialize or get new training.

Libra (Sept. 22nd – Oct. 21st)
Sentimental: It is with your family that you feel more fulfilled. It is possible that you consider planning to have a baby. If you are single, you can be attracted to a more mature man, and you will listen to him with very great attention!
Social: A very active month. If you are on holiday, you won’t stop a second, doing sports and running from one thing to another. If you work, you go into overdrive. Perhaps you are replacing a colleague. You won’t feel the extra work load, because you are well-organized. Towards the end of the month, beware of quarrels with co-workers. Don’t let yourself be influenced and keep your free will.

Scorpio (Oct. 22nd – Nov. 21st)
Sentimental: The sun shines on your love. If you are a couple, you’ll find ways to get out of the routine and experience a second honeymoon with your loved one. If you are single, you deploy your assets to seduce, and it works. But you tend to flutter and not get too attached.
Social: It would be a pity to go on vacation this month, because the planets are pushing you to business prowess. You are full of ideas, you’re well-organized and it helps you expand your network. Your communications abilities open doors. It is an ideal time to request a raise, expect a promotion or find a job. Interesting! Go for it!

Sagittarius (Nov. 22nd – Dec. 21st)
Sentimental :
Demanding, critical, you are not easy to live with. Fortunately, your partner is ready to eat a humble pie and to yield to your whims. If you are single, you can begin a love
story at the beginning of the month. He has many qualities, but you tend to see only his defects. What a pity! Be tolerant, because otherwise you might regret it!
Social: It is all or nothing, but it does not correspond to what you want. Or you want to work and to have responsibilities, but are unemployed or confined to a position that isn’t for you. Or you dream of vacation and are forced to work without being paid
overtime. At the end of the month, you feel more in phase with your desires, but all is not yet perfect. It is only a few months when you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Capricorn (Dec. 22nd – Jan. 21st)
Sentimental: The atmosphere is tense with your spouse, who asks that you be accountable, but you do not want to play to his game. If you are single, you will have many encounters, but it is unlikely that you find the absolute gem. However, you may settle on someone who is a very different person from you and who could intrigue you.
Social: The first 15 days of the month are heavy. You can’t get what you wish. Your colleagues tend to criticize you and do not give you any support. You will feel a little isolated. In the second part of the month, the atmosphere seems to be better. You play the diplomat, and it helps to make yourself understood . From the 25th, you need to cross an obstacle, but you should get there!

Aquarius (Jan. 22nd – Feb. 21st)
Sentimental: Your partner is fussing over you, and if you have any concerns, he/
she will be of great help. However, you are not very easy to live with these days and have a tendency to be rude and impatient. If you are single, you have a tendency to just keep going around in circles and not achieving your goals. An unexpected encounter
may well make your heart beat faster, but this person is not free or does not see that you are flirting. You dream a lot but do not take action!
Social: You are lacking motivation for your work and you feel you’re going nowhere, looking for new for ideas to rebuild your confidence. It is a time for one’s inner self . If you are on holiday, take time to sum up the situation and think about your future. If
you work, you are trying to seize the opportunities that could open doors. It is not easy, as you know exactly what you want.

Pisces (Feb. 22nd – March 21st)
Sentimental: Your rapport with your spouse is still very strong. You are on the same wavelength the first three weeks of the month. As per the 24th, some cloudy days can come to disturb your peaceful time. If you are single, you will be very= popular and a lot of flirting will be directed toward you. You could be meeting a very sensible and sweet man.
Social: Natives of first decan are successful in life and succeed in everything they undertake without fatigue. In return, natives of the 2nd and 3rd decan must be more diplomatic to achieve their goals. You will reach your goal if you have skillfully negotiated. Mark the 19th on your agenda; it should bring you incredible career prospects.
If you are planning on signing a contract, choose that day.

Email Suzanne any of your questions and read her reply in our next installment of
stars in the skies. astrosuzanne@gmail.com

Nontraditional bluegrass band comes to Kearny


By Anthony J. Machcinski

As the dog days of summer bring triple-digit heat to the area, a hot day at the zoo might not seem like the most sought after way to spend time. However, the band of the same name should provide an escape from the high temperatures.
Massachusetts is not the area typically associated with bluegrass; however, Hot Day at the Zoo embraces its nontraditional roots and sound.
“I’ve always believed what we’re doing is unique,” said guitarist Michael Dion. “No one is doing what we’re doing.”
Hot Day at the Zoo started eight years ago, but it wasn’t until three years ago when mandolin player JT Lawrence joined the band that Dion felt the group had more of a professional feel.
“When he came into the band, I feel like we upped it into a big outfit,” Dion said.
Although Lawrence thinks that the band had been established before he arrived, the vibe he received from the beginning was powerful.
“When I joined the group, I knew that off the bat the band could be successful,” Lawrence explained. “I saw what was going on and heard the sounds they blended together. When I make a piece of music, I try to think of how many diverse groups of people can understand this music and get as many as possible. (Hot Day at the Zoo) did just that.”
While the band loves being home, its uniqueness is not always embraced in Massachusetts.
“Hot Day at the Zoo is not traditional bluegrass,” Lawrence explained. “In New England, people are so traditional in every aspect of their life, and they want to hear the music that they heard 40 or 50 years ago.”

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Age has no limits as Jay and the Americans rock Lyndhurst

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/Jay & the Americans on stage in Lyndhurst last week.

By Anthony J. Machcinski
Despite 49 years since their first hit song, Jay and the Americans still have the ability to rock any large crowd.
Playing a mixture of their hits and covers of songs from artists that inspired them, such as Roy Orbison, Jay and the Americans played last week at Town Hall Park in Lyndhurst as part of the 22nd annual “Music Under the Stars.”
Jay and the Americans started after founding members Sandy Deanne and Kenny Vance decided to end their previous group called the Harborites. The first Jay, Jay Traynor, was found by Harborites manager Jim Gribble.
One of the most significant moments with Jay and the Americans for Deanne, a Queens native, came when the band was able to play one of the biggest stages in America, Madison Square Garden.
“We’re East Coast guys,” Deanne said proudly. “When we played Madison Square Garden, it was a special thrill because all the huge events took place there.”
While much has changed since the group was one of the top bands of the 1960s, Deanne and the band like to return to the area.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.