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Woodside Local Stars in “The Nutcracker”

“Dancing as much as I can for as long as I can”

By Alicia Venter

Fiara, right, in “The Nutcracker”


Giulia Faria began dancing at age 3. Twenty years later, the Woodside local has propelled that passion towards her professional career, and will be starring in the New York City Ballet’s seasonal performance of “The Nutcracker.”

Faria has been performing “The Nutcracker” since she was 10, playing multiple roles in the 1892, two-act ballet performance. This year, she is taking on the soloist roles of Coffee (or the Arabian Princess) the Mouse Queen, Spanish Dance and the Waltz of the Flowers.

“I’ve actually never danced the Arabian Princess before and it’s a very different type of role. It’s very slow and controlled and I’m more of a dynamic dancer,” Faria said. “This year is especially challenging for me because I’m stepping into a role that I’ve never done before and learning how to move in a different quality”

Faria’s dancing began at Callina Moaytis School of Classical Ballet, a since-closed school in Astoria.

Taking ballet classes every Saturday until age 10, she joined the School of New York Theatre the following year. She was still in high school when she joined the New York Theatre Ballet, a 15 year old apprentice standing among established professionals.

“Overall, it just matured a little quicker than most 15-year-olds because of the environment I was in,” Faria said. “I don’t think I would have changed for anything. I feel like it made me a better dancer and a better professional overall.”

She eventually transitioned to home school in order to balance her responsibilities in the studio and the classroom.

“It was a little tricky, because I didn’t want to go to school — I wanted to dance,” she said with a laugh.”

Faria holds two homes close to her heart: her company and her Queens community. Both she described as intrinsically part of her — with no foreseeable future of leaving either.

One of Faria’s favorite places is Sri Praphai, located at 64-13 39th Ave in Woodside, which she describes as the best Thai restaurant in New York. She regularly attends Yoga Agora in Astoria and studied nutrition at LaGuardia Community College.

“I went to school in Queens. Now, as an adult, I don’t think I would even want to live in another borough,” she said.“It’s so versatile. You can crave whatever kind of food you want at 3:00 a.m. and you’ll definitely find something. There’s a really special place in my heart for Queens.”

The New York City Ballet company has maintained her passion for dance, and it is a group she says “feels like home.” For that, she plans to stay with the company for the foreseeable future, and to keep “dancing as much as I can for as long as I can.”

“I don’t necessarily mind where I am dancing or where the career takes me, as long as I’m dancing. That’s what matters,” Faria said. “As long as I feel really passionate about what I’m doing and what I’m dancing. That’s mainly my goal — to feel fulfilled wherever I am.”

Performances begin Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Brookfield Place, 230 Vesey Street in Manhattan. For more information or to purchase tickets to see the New York City Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker,” visit

MoMi announces 2022 Curators’ Choice Lineup

Annual series to begin Dec. 9


By Alicia Venter

Dos Estaciones will be screened on Friday, Dec. 30. Photo: Museum of the Moving Image









The Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) is hosting its annual Curator’ Choice series next week, and has announced the recognized films.

28 films have earned a slot in this year’s lineup, and screenings are set to begin Dec. 9. The screening will run through Jan. 21, 2023. Additional titles will be added as they are confirmed.

The Curators’ Choice Series is meant to recognize some of the best works released in 2022, with an emphasis on favorites and under-recognized work.

They were selected by MoMI’s Curator of Film Eric Hynes and their Associate Curator of Film, Edo Choi.

“While journalists, industry insiders, market analysts, and armchair speculators endlessly debated the fate of fickle moviegoing and streaming subscriptions, these selections suggest an alternative narrative for the moving image in 2022, one defined by evolving processes and forms, the instability and anxieties over how we encounter the work perhaps freeing artists to let the work become whatever it may,” said Hynes. “It’s also a year in which numerous filmmakers told their own stories, and in so doing made some of their best work.”

The series includes three films by Hong Sangsoo, a South Korean film director and screenwriter: “Introduction,” “In Front of Your Face” and “The Novelist’s Film.”

Two films by Claire Denis are being recognized: “Both Sides of the Blade” and “Stars at Noon.” Denis is a French film director and writer, and is best known for her 1999 film “Beau Travail,” which won Village Voices Film Critics’ Poll in 2000.

The first screening takes place at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9. The film will be “Expedition Content,” which was constructed from audio recorded from a 1964 film, described on MoMI’s website as “a deft critique of the ethnographic endeavor.”

Screenings take place from Friday through Sunday throughout December and January.

The full schedule for this years’ Creators’ Choice Series can be found at Tickets are $15, with discounts available for students, seniors, youth and MoMI members.



Three Astoria smoke shops robbed on Sunday: NYPD

Locations all within two miles of each other, no arrests confirmed

By Alicia Venter


Three smoke shops within two miles of each other were robbed Sunday afternoon, according to a preliminary report from the NYPD.

Despite their proximity, the NYPD has not confirmed or denied whether these robberies are connected as of publication.

The robberies took place at King 1 Smoke Shop (25-28 Broadway) at 1:10 p.m.; Smoke Station Hemp Shop (22-05 35th Street) at 1:48 p.m.; and Nirvana Vape and Convenience (31-92 21st Street) at 9:15 p.m.

All three robberies are within the confines of the 114th Precinct.

According to a preliminary report provided by a DCPI Spokesperson with the NYPD on Monday, Nov. 21, the robbery at King 1 Smoke Shop took place following an argument between a store employee and an unidentified individual who approached the country to purchase CBD products.

The perpetrator displayed a firearm over the counter and threatened the victim, and then fled on foot westbound on Broadway. There are no arrests as of publication and the investigation is ongoing.

Four individuals robbed Cloud Beast CBD Smoke & Vape Shop, according to police. Two of the unidentified individuals asked for help, following which one of the perpetrators displayed a firearm. He grabbed the victim from behind the counter and pushed him to the ground, while other individuals entered the location and grabbed items from the shelves and money from the counter, as well as the victim’s wallet, and fled.

DCPI did not share if there were any arrests made.

At Nirvana Vape and Convenience, an unidentified individual entered the location, displayed a firearm and demanded money from the employee. The suspect fled with approximately $600 in a grey SUV.

There are no arrests as of publication and the investigation is ongoing.

This is an ongoing story, and will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

Any tips about what’s happening in Long Island City, Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside or Northwest Queens? Email me at!



New Green Classroom at Energy Tech HS, Astoria

By Alicia Venter

A new green classroom has opened at Energy Tech High School in Astoria. The classroom will grow herbs and vegetables through the year in a soil-less garden.

The lab is designed to help students learn about urban food production and sustainability; it is a hydroponic system, meaning that the plants will be grown in water containing nutrients instead of soil, with seeding stations, a tower garden, composting station and hanging vines.

Kale and herbs will be grown in the lab, and they will be made available to the AP Environmental Science classes and a Green Team after-school program.

The project is a collaboration between the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Energy Tech. Led by NYPA’s Environmental Justice programming, the green classroom builds on the national Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) program.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Nov. 15 in the 9th grade Living Environment classroom with New York Sun Works — a non-profit organization that built the lab — and elected officials in attendance.

Following the ribbon cutting, a tasting of classroom-grown fresh basil with tomato and mozzarella was held with the Energy Tech High School community.

“Our new hydroponic lab has been welcomed with great enthusiasm by our school community,” said Energy Tech principal Hope Barter. “Through this partnership, students are provided with enriching classroom instruction focused on the science of sustainability, engaging and high interest hands-on learning, and access to the healthy foods that they have helped to cultivate. The program also contributes to students’ knowledge of additional green career pathways and areas of STEM study. We greatly appreciate our partners at New York Power Authority and NY Sun Works for bringing us these valuable opportunities.”

The P-TECH program offers paid internships to high school students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. Energy Tech has had students in the program for the last two summers. 14 students at Energy Tech have earned scholarships from NYPA.

Energy Tech High School serves grades 9-14; it is an Early College Initiative and Career and Technical Education school catering its education to the growing energy industry.

NYPA has funded 18 green classrooms and two green community laboratories in New York City over the past three years. The average classroom created by New York Sun Works produces more than 500 pounds of vegetables per school year.

“NYPA is pleased to support the Energy Tech High School learning lab that will bring new opportunities to students who want to prepare for skilled in-demand clean energy jobs and go on to personally rewarding careers,” said NYPA Interim President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll. “NYPA supports New York State’s long-standing commitment to creating a more diversified, highly skilled workforce and these creative STEM and sustainability programs ignite young people’s interest in the energy and environment fields. Students will learn about sustainable food production and environmental science as part of the education they need to become the next generation on the front lines of fighting climate change.”

Any tips about whats happening in Long Island City, Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside or Northwest Queens? Email me at!

Ravenswood Playground Renovated, $7.1 million in improvements

Photo: NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

By Alicia Venter


The new renovations at Ravenswood Playground are complete, as $7.1 million in amenities bring new play equipment and water play features to the Astoria park.

A ribbon cutting was held for the park on Tuesday, Nov. 15, bringing NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr., City Council Member Julie Won and Community Board 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris together in celebration.

“Ravenswood Playground has been completely transformed, and we could not be more excited to cut the ribbon on these new amenities for the community,” said Donoghue. “Thanks to our Mayor, Queens Borough President, and City Council, over $7 million has been invested to transform this vital neighborhood greenspace, with something for everyone in the community to enjoy. I know that Ravenswood Playground will continue to be focal point for fun and relaxation for the Astoria community into the future.”

New seating and picnic areas has also been added to the reconstructed park, and the basketball courts and softball fields underwent renovations.

New equipment will allow all-inclusive, accessible play to visitors, and water spray features were implemented to the children’s play area.

A newly constructed adult fitness area brings accessible units for all users.

Ravenswood Playground sits adjacent to Ravenswood Houses, and serves many of the residents of the NYCHA Housing Complex.

“This $7.1 million investment for Ravenswood Playground ensures that our NYCHA residents can enjoy brand new equipment, renovated sports fields, and much-needed safety improvements,” said Council Member Won. “Our parks are where our kids play, and I am happy that our neighbors at Ravenswood Houses will have an updated space to enjoy the outdoors.”

Funding for the project was provided by allocated funds from the City Council ($4 million), the Office of the Borough President ($2.5 million) and from the Office of the Mayor ($700,000).

Any tips about whats happening in Long Island City, Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside or Northwest Queens? Email me at!

Five Iron Golf opens in LIC

Indoor golf venue brings unique fun to locals


By Alicia Venter

As temperatures continue to plummet, avid golf players — as well as interested novices — no longer need to bundle up to enjoy the fun of the course. Instead, they can head to Five Iron Golf in Long Island City, the newest addition to a continually growing neighborhood.

Five Iron Golf, located a block from MoMA PS1 at 24-22 Jackson Ave, features seven custom-built TrackMan golf simulators. This technology can track the movement on the ball and where it would go in a real-life course. The projectors display an animated graphic of the ball traveling, capturing back spin, side spin and more.

For the intense golfer,  TrackMan provides analytics to help improve their game: the distance the ball traveled in yards, the angle the club was facing on contact and more. There are also trainers who provide lessons.

“We are a new space that can provide a lot for the neighborhood, and we want to be there for the neighborhood,” Jonathan Cruz, the general manager of Five Iron Golf Long Island City, said in an interview. “We want to be the place where businesses can entertain clients or host public events, or the birthday party that the family has been trying to figure out where to set it up. Now you have this space.”

“A fan from a distance,” Cruz is a Brooklyn native who has managed events across the city, from the “Stranger Things Experience” to New York Fashion Week. This is his first experience as part of the Five Iron Golf corporation, and he looks forward to bringing his expertise to Long Island City.

“I quickly learned how much of a community Long Island City is. Every day, new folks stop by asking us questions and telling us they live right down the block,” Cruz said. “They are supportive. They are intrigued. There is this sense of community that you can’t just find anywhere.”

The location has league nights, where a team can take on other groups in “friendly competitions.” Those who do not have a team can enter as free agents to be chosen by groups. 

The location also features a bar, a restaurant and shuffleboard. Cruz explained that Five Iron Golf is not exclusively catered towards golfers, and will happily “watch a sitcom” with customers at the bar. 

Simulators can be booked hourly, with weekday off-peak hours (from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) priced at $70. After 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and on the weekends, a simulator can be booked for $85 an hour. 

To visit Five Iron Golf, take the subway to the Court Square subway station, as the venue sits adjacent to the station.

Tickets and more information can be found at

“We want this to be the place where you take the risk and try golf,” said Cruz. “You never know until you try it.”

Any tips about whats happening in Long Island City, Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside or Northwest Queens? Email me at!

LIC Partnership looks to expand

By Alicia Venter

As Long Island City expands, the Long Island City Partnership President Laura Rothrock has her hands full. Beginning in September, Rothrock has taken the mantle of an organization unlike any other in Queens, offering aid to local businesses, members and stakeholders to Long Island City.

The mission of the partnership, which is the neighborhood development organization for Long Island City, is to advocate for the economic development of the community. The partnership is a member and sponsor-based organization.

The partnership, which also manages a business improvement district (BID), which began in 2005, has shown its strength in the past year. In the 2022 fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022, there were 30 new businesses opened in the BID’s boundaries. That is a record number, which Rothrock noted is interesting given the residual effects of the pandemic.

“It’s been a tricky time economically, but people have long-term confidence in Long Island City, which is great,” Rothrock said.

The BID’s core services include marketing, sanitation, beautification and public safety.

Through their services, 204 businesses were assisted with permit approval, access to financial and payment plans set up with Con Edison within the fiscal year.

“A BID is only a piece of what we do,” Rothrock said. ”We do a lot with a limited budget.”

The LIC BID has a texting service to directly connect with the community regarding their services. Rext LICBID to (929) 269-8848 for more information.

The organization provides business services to six different zip codes, helps community members navigate the city agencies, manages a marketing team and holds events. A key initiative for the partnership is marketing for stakeholders and so locals can see the services offered nearby.

“We’re really unique because we are the most mixed use community in the country,” Rothrock said. “We want to be able to promote that more.”

The partnership has their marquee event soon — the LIC summit is on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

The event will be a panel discussion — with speakers including Councilwoman Julie Won and Queen Borough President Donovan Richards — on how being a mixed-use neighborhood has contributed to the resiliency of the community, as well as Long Island City’s future.

The LIC Summit will be held at the Museum of the Moving Image, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Tickets can be purchased through the LIC Partnership website,

There are typically four major events held by the partnership, such as the Real Estate Breakfast held in March. These events, Rothrock said, bring a “signature program” for the partnership.

Working with elected officials such as Won — who is on the board of the partnership automatically as the councilwoman for the area — and the Borough President’s office, the partnership is able to connect with the local residents in the community as well as the businesses it serves.

“Even though we are a business organization, we also want to collaborate with the residents and that we’re promoting the local retail business to the residents,” Rothrock said.

Her last job was as a consultant at Nicholas and Lence Communications. Prior to this, during the Bloomberg Administration, she worked at the Department of Small Businesses Services and managed the BID Program. As such, she has experience both as a private consultant and within the government.

The organization is working on two BID expansions, one towards the west and one to the east, past Sunnyside Gardens. Stakeholders outside of the Long Island City BID boundaries expressed the need for supplemental services, the partnership website stated, to address the changing needs of the neighborhood. If all goes through, the BID assessment budget will double through this growth.

It will be under “the BID umbrella,” Rothrock said, but given the difference in the neighborhoods, each sub-district needs its own budget and planning to meet its needs.

The expansion to the east is in the industrial area of Long Island City, and it has no residents.

“For all intents and purposes, we’re one BID, but [the east expansion] will have its own budget and slightly different services, because the services needed in the industrial area are different,” Rothrock said.

It is a very lengthy process to expand the BID, Rothrock said, beginning with a planning phase that took the partnership approximately two years to complete.

The outreach phase has begun, which included four public forums, and soon the planning will enter the legislative phase.

Rothrock’s experience prior to becoming President allowed her to transition easily into the role.

The biggest controversy in Long Island City is Innovation QNS, which the partnership has expressed support of through testifying at the city council meetings.

“We’re hoping that they reach an agreement, because it really would be a missed opportunity if the project didn’t go through,” Rothrock said.

However, Rothrock expressed how the organization is apolitical and non-partisan — Innovation QNS does not fall within the boundaries of the BID, and they purely look at the project as a way for the community to grow economically, as well as gain quality of life improvements such as new open space.

More information about the LIC Partnership can be found at

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