I have two girls, both equally theatrical, at all times. They both love to sing, dance, and perform at any chance they get. That being said, it’s been particularly difficult getting them involved in an acting program downtown, because up until now, there were essentially no options. I’m excited to announce a new program that recently opened their doors to all downtown mini actors, ready to get on the stage. Its name is very fitting, Spotlight Kids, and the women who created it are both NYC Moms! They are putting on their first performance this semester, Alice in New York, so if you have children who would love participating in this theatrical performance, sign them up.
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
We will actually start our classes this coming Fall 2018. There is such a huge presence of art, dance and music downtown for young children, but very small focus on theater. We noticed the gap in the market, and what better way to watch a play than one that your child has made costumes for, built props for, constructed the stage, learned lines and will perform on a real stage for all to come and see.
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
To be honest, we were inspired by our own children. Both of our daughters are artistic and theatrical. Danielle has made the commitment in the past of bringing her daughter, who was five at the time, to various venues around Manhattan, all inconveniently located. When I started researching theater studios for my young daughter, I realized Danielle was right. There are very few downtown and none in Tribeca. We decided to start Spotlightkids NY to bring theater to our youngest New Yorkers. Many of the great children based theater companies are either uptown or midtown. Why not downtown? It’s the perfect place. As there are so many families with children and tons of activities. Very few focused on theater, so we decided why not.. let’s do it.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
Honestly, the downtown community is small, and the families here are looking for programs for their kids that are located within walking distance especially after a long day of school. There are some programs that offer a theater class, but they are dance, vocal or art based. Our focus is to let the youngest New Yorkers know all aspects of what goes on behind and on the stage. They will have the opportunity to make their own costume, construct props, build a backdrop, learn songs and and their scripted lines. And in 14 weeks, be able to perform for all family and care givers to come and watch on a real stage.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
We have short-term and long-term goals and strategy to set us apart from others. Right now, we have flexibility to really capture the market for the younger age group in theater and arts.
For one, we tend to keep things real and authentic. For our Alice in New York class, ages 7-10. The students will be able to design their own play. What would Alice do if stuck in the city? Who would she meet along the way? A city mouse, a businessman late for his big meeting? A subway car full of musicians? The students will design and make these costumes, learn to put together materials to build the actual props for the stage. And then debut all their semester's work on a real stage. This will teach them all aspects of what happens in a theater production. And from their feedback and creativity, we can create an actual performance.
As for our long-term goals. We want to make people know that theater and art are still relevant. Possibly preforming in hospitals and elderly homes as we rehearse. Also working with local public schools to enhance the arts and give our students at Spotlightkids the confidence and ability to perform in any setting, as well as contribute to their community.
In addition, partnering with talent agencies to come to our end-year recital to give our students the opportunity to truly make their talent noticed by industry professionals, and be introduced to the world of theater in a professional way.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
Tamryn: Right know we are very aware of their comments and needs. Being NYC moms ourselves, we understand that our children are just as busy as we are. So we want to be able to listen and deliver to our customer's demands as we work on improving each semester. We started our schedule small to gauge the market, and were able to fill classes to times and days that were workable to the community.
Danielle: There is such a huge presence downtown with dance classes, kids play space, music classes etc... but no theatre classes. We want to offer our clientele a theater program that will teach the children all aspects of theater with talented staff and right within walking distance to where we all live.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Tamryn: Right now, it’s the exciting feedback. That we took this idea and made it in to something, and we just can’t wait to wow the kids, the families and the community.
Danielle: Being a costume designer for stage, TV, and film, my favorite part in Spotlightkids is teaching the kids the entire collaboration of what makes theatre. Of course we will be focusing on their acting but my love is teaching them all the art and production elements like costume, prop, and set making. And showing the kids the backstage aspect of putting on a show.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
Tamryn: For me, I love bike riding and I find it so peaceful to ride my bike along the West Side Highway. I Have one of those Babeo, Amersterdam carriage bikes, so the kids come everywhere. We all enjoy looking at the trees, the flowers, the water along the river. The same time every day, it’s the same people on the road. Exploring new neighborhoods and getting to any place we need quickly in our family bike.
Danielle: With all my years in TV and film, and working such long hours, I am very aware of the time I spend with my daughters and my husband. Finding quality time for all.
When I’m with my girls, who are 7 years and 16 months, it’s the sea glass carousel in Battery Park City. There's never a line, and it’s so beautiful and fun for all of us. Then usually followed by dinner at pier A - a perfect casual spots for the kids.
If it’s just me and my 7-year-old, then we definitely hit the iPic movie theater in the seaport, where they have amazing seats and serve dinner and drinks through the movie.
On the rare occasion my husband I get to sneak away - then our favorite secret spot is I. sodi for a bordeaux and the carbonara.
How do you benefit mamas?
Tamryn: We, as mothers, live our happiness through our childrens' eyes, so those little ideas that we have as moms, can be something meaningful. By following that idea and making it come to life. This is how Spotlightkids NY was created, and we would encourage other moms staying home to follow that dream and idea. Most likely there are others who feel the same way. You never know where it will lead you.
Danielle: We have opened an outlet for their children to try and be involved in theatre without the stress of leaving their neighborhood, especially if the mom is juggling work and other children, it is nice to have something close by.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
How excited everyone is for a theater based company to come to our neighborhood. When walking around our neighborhood handing out flyers and telling schools and local businesses, they couldn’t believe that a children’s theater company will be joining our neighborhood.
“My kid loves theatrical play, and now they can actually preform on a real stage.” - local moms
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field.
Denise from FIDI Families - she helped us promote our ad and have us some extra time and space.
Heidi Krupp PR - local mom who is in the PR world and gave us tips on marketing and how to wow the community with simple marketing tips.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
Tamryn: "Surround yourself with people who lift you higher." -Oprah
I feel that if it wasn’t for Danielle’s passion and drive, I wouldn’t be able to do this on my own. We both are heavily involved in our children’s lives, so with each other’s support, we can juggle the business and our families.
Danielle: Well, it's not really a mantra but I have gotten really into visualizing.
I believe in actually meditating on something and visualizing it and truly believing in it a lot of the times, in a not so direct way it does manifest.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving tip:
Tamryn: I love to cook for my family. And some days, it’s a challenge. So I do a lot of meal prep and freezing our favorite dishes so on those crazy days, all I have to do is defrost and dinner is served in 20, and it’s organic and freshly home made.
Danielle: Hands down the best time saving tip is my uniform. This came about when I was working 14 hour days on a TV show, and lets just say my mornings getting myself and 2 children ready were rough, the last thing I had time for was to pick out something fun to wear, so I adapted a uniform. Everyday (summer excluded) you will find me in a neutral tone crewneck cashmere sweater, jeans or black leather pants, an interesting belt, usually with a big buckle and motorcycle boots or loafer.
Where can our readers learn more?
They can visit out website or contact us below:
Tamryn Shami & Danielle Burakovsky
100 Barclay St.
18th Floor Media Room