This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens.  Please check back weekly for new posts.

Dina Comolli
Dina Comolli

TitleOccupation
Actress, Executive Director of Rising City Arts, Teaching Artist & Nia Green Belt Instructor

Where were you born?
Trenton, NJ where “Trenton makes, the world takes”

Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
Last Stop, Ditmars. 13 years!

How did you get involved in theater?

As many of you theatre-folk will understand, the theatre kind of found me. I remember, in first grade, pining over the role of Mother Rabbit. I didn’t end up getting cast, but when the actress who did chickened out, I was called in to take the part. I was so elated during the whole process! I never turned back to ask if it was a reasonable way to live the rest of my life. I just had to have it.

Looking back, I am SO grateful for the arts programming in my elementary school and high school in PA. When I hit middle school though we had no theatre program and I seriously derailed with grades, relationships and authority figures. No doubt, puberty is a rough time, but I was clearly a student who flourished with the arts because as soon as started high school theatre, all was peaceful again.  To this day, I am still equally as excited when I get cast. Being around the creative collaborative process, hearing or being the audience settling into their seats to witness a story unfold, sharing words, ideas, and feelings in a safe space, role playing, dreaming, laughing, singing, dancing. It is all such absolute pleasure to me.

Tell us about your organization Rising City Arts.

Yes! Rising City Arts is an Astoria based Arts in Education Organization and a unique place to explore and enjoy the craft of theatre. We serve children and adults of all ages with high quality, innovative theatre and acting-based classes, workshops and in-school residencies taught by some of New York’s finest Acting Teachers. We are dedicated to helping our students develop a greater awareness of self, community, confidence and artistic potential.

Rising City Arts launched in Astoria in 2010 with a big heart, years of experience in arts-based classrooms and a whole bunch of passion in the belief that now, in this technological age, is the ideal time to connect with our peers for some crazy fun and inspiring arts collaboration. The craft of acting teaches us to actually listen and look at one another, to have healthy dialogues about our thoughts and feelings, to move our bodies and to appreciate the importance of play.

Since launching, Rising City has proudly reached nearly 600 children each year with the joys of theatre making and acting. We are grateful to our 14 partner schools and community organizations (11 of which are in Astoria and LIC!!) who support the theatre arts in education.  This spring we are so thrilled to present our premiere community ACTING CLASSES for kids and adults at Broadway Dance of Astoria! Check out details on our website: RisingCityArts.com

What do you love most about Queens?

It’s hard to choose most! But forced, I will choose the people. We are such a beautiful mix of personalities who know how to eat well, enjoy life and appreciate what our community has to offer. I have met so many wonderful people and lifelong friends here!

Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
The sunsets from my rooftop are breathtaking. If I can’t post a photo here, you will have to believe me that my rooftop is one of the most sublime and uplifting places in all of NYC.

Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
I always enjoy dining at Kiklades, Watawa and Sparrow. The food at the Queens Kickshaw blows my mind. Dessert at Martha’s never disappoints. You will find me working off the delicious neighborhood cuisine at Yoga Agora and The Art of Fitness (where I teach Nia). And I love my local small businesses; Copycom, Inside Astoria, Buon Appetit, Space Salon and Wave Thai. If you have never shopped at Titan Foods, you should try it, it’s an adventure. And for a night of laughter and liquor, nothing beats our great bars like O’Hanlon’s, Dominie’s Hoek (LIC and Astoria), Café Bar and Mosaic. My favorite coffee shop to get a delicious lunch and work through the afternoon is Astor Bake Shop. Then maybe back to Ditmars for a quick jog in Astoria Park, kept beautiful by the wonderful folks at The Astoria Park Alliance.
Current/Upcoming projects?
Happily, I am always busy as an actress; making commercials, performing in play readings or shooting various TV and film projects. But I am most excited by our upcoming Spring 2014 Rising City Arts community Acting Classes in Astoria for kids and adults! We have seven class offerings serving all ages – from Babies to Preschoolers, Tweens, Teens and Adults. We have gathered a powerful team of acting teachers (who are all Astoria residents) and can’t wait to share our love and joy for theatre arts and acting with our friends and neighbors in Western Queens! Full teacher bios and class details can be found at RisingCityArts.com. Register today before classes fill up!!

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