The #Livelifegivelife #4AJ video uses the power of the arts as a platform to support and promote organ donor registration. AJ Perrelli's mom, Christine Perrelli, the founder of The AJ Project, met a group of body painters and shared her wish to create a collaborative video using her son's gifts of life as the inspiration. The music was written and performed by John Keitel and is inspired by AJ Perrelli's actual heartbeat. The body painting was conceived and painted by Ish Peralta, Shelley Wapnaik and Hector Lopez and represents AJ gifts of life. The models are AJ's brother Michael and sister Kitty and the cinematography and editing was performed by Joseph Bearese.
The AJ Project was created in homage to AJ's passion and dedication to his life as an actor, dancer, singer and stage performer. They strive to create opportunities to support the artistic community and through the collaborative efforts of many, created this video commemorating AJ’s final role, as an organ donor.
By clicking on the link above you can register as an organ and tissue donor on this national site. There is a link to let The AJ Project know how many people have registered through our site. Even if you are already registered we encourage you to sign up on this site. They built a database that lets you use your social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) to TELL THE WORLD YOU SUPPORT ORGAN DONATION USING SPECIFIC HASHTAGS. Plus, they store that information and provide it to your next of kin at the appropriate time so they can see your wishes in your own words. Are your registered as an organ/tissue donor.
*Video Produced by The AJ Project non profit for the arts as part of their Create from the Heart series. The AJ Project is a 501(c)3 founded by AJ's mom Christine Perrelli and friend Christina Neubrand. Their mission is to honor AJ's legacy by creating, curating and cultivating emerging artist. This is the second video in the series. To watch the first click here.
Hire our production teams to create content for your organization:
by Christine Perrelli
performers and production contact Christine@4theajproject.org
The iconic Astor Room located in the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens NY is making a name for itself as a premiere hotspot showcasing amazing singers, musicians and the occasional magician. Now you can add a monthly Burlesque Show to the mix. Starting Thursday, September 29th the Speakeasy Burlesque NY will debut in the new event space called Studio A. The evening will benefit a non profit for the arts called The AJ Project.
Produced by Director/Choreographer Steven Cardona in partnership with The AJ Project a 501(c)3 non profit for the arts, the themed shows plan on engaging the audience's through texting and emailing a secret password for entrance, drink specials and to receive the theme for the next months show. Guest are not required to dress the theme but if they want to play the part that is encouraged.
Montserrat L'umiere guest performs at The Astor Room on Thursday September 29, 2016
Photo credit: Giovanni Gellona
For their first show "Diva's" a variety of performers will take the stage. Steven's co-host this month will be comedian Liz Magee who performs stand-up all over New York City. The line up includes Loreto Astroza performing as Montserrat L'umiere who's credits as a dancer span both Chile and NYC. This gorgeous dancer has a background in Latin, Jazz and Salsa so expect a hot sexy performance. Featured dancers Milagros Simon as Lady Day and Kitty Perrelli offer a beautiful mix of performance and fun. To mix things up songstress Amy Rivard will perform and Joshua Warr as Stormy Weatherz brings a little Drag to the room.
The Speakeasy NY Burlesque NY will be at held the third Thursday of every month at The Astor Room located on 35th Ave and 35th Street in Astoria. Doors open 7pm/ $10 cover at the door.
The relationship with The AJ Project and The Astor Room began this past June when they co-hosted a Tony Awards Viewing Party. For 20 bucks (half going to the AJ Project!) guest watched the televised Tony Awards hosted by James Cordon on a big screen TV. They were entertained during commercial breaks by members of the AJ Project's tribe with song and comedy. Jarvis Green played the beautiful baby grand for singers Rachel Lauria, Haley Clair, Kitty Perrelli and Alexander Sage Owen. Co-hosted by Steven Cardona and Comedian Cate Wineberg, the audience was also given the chance to win prizes by answering trivia questions presented via video taken especially for the event from Broadway stars; Heather Parcells from Tuck Everlasting, Amanda LaMotte from Matilda The Musical, Jeff Blumenkrantz from Bright Star, Natalie Charle Ellis from School of Rock and Sam Rodgers from American in Paris. As part of the special evening guest were treated to a light menu & 1 free cocktail as well.
Because the night was such a success, viewing parties are on the schedule for Rocky Horror Live on October 20th and Hairspray Live on December 7th. Once again entertainment will be on the menu. Attendees will be encouraged to dress the part so make sure you sign up on the website to get more details.
In this world where live performers have fewer and fewer places to showcase their work, Manager Gjovalin "John" Nikci is a strong supporter of the arts. This is evident by the variety of opportuinities for entertainers to showcase their talents at The Astor Room. Besides the incredible food and signature drinks offered daily live jazz is on the menu at Sunday Brunch and also Friday and Saturday evenings. Tuesdays feature pop performers and Wednesday's Michael Mott & Friends presents a weekly cabaret style show where singers and the occasional magician come to the stage and perform anything from pop to broadway tunes.
You can check out the Astor Room calendar here.
It is with great pride, like that of a stage dad, that John boasts of the historic building that houses The Astor Room. Built in the 1920's this once commissary to the stars sits upstairs from the former Studio A music recording studio where greats like Billy Joel have recorded. With the recent renovation of Studio A to an event space, Nikci envisioned not only a great place to host meetings, weddings or Bar Mitzvahs, but had a specific vision of having a Burlesque Show. Once down the stairs through a non-descript hallway you enter a private venue that seats up to 100 has a full stage, lights and projection set up. It has a full bar and the ability to transform into any theme you can imagine. It is the perfect space for The Speakeasy Burlesque NY show.
The AJ Project is a 501(c)3 non profit organization for the arts located in Astoria Queens. Their mission is to create, cultivate and curate adults pursuing the arts as a career. The NPO was founded little over a year ago by Christine Perrelli, AJ's mother, to honor the memory of her son who was a dancer, actor and singer. He passed away in 2013 at age 26 from a head injury. Creating this monthly show is a win win for both The Astor Room and The AJ Project. The Astor Room is able to support a local non profit and host a spectacular evening filled with talent and The AJ Project can has a venue to cultivate the arts community. AJ used to say that "Adulting" as an artist is hard. It is the job of The AJ Project to find ways to make it easier. All of the $10 donation for the Diva Show will go to The AJ Project and their mission. If you would like to offer your creative services to future works of The AJ Project you can go to their website and join at www.4theajproject.org or email Christine@4theajproject.org. For performance info on the Burlesque shows contact SpeakeasyburlesqueNY@gmail.com.Read more
We need your help to fill the Gap!
Savannah couldn't wait to share her news with us. She landed a contract as a repertory ballet dancer in Maine starting mid August 2016! Then reality set in. Her NYC apartment lease and "survival" nanny job are both over the end of June.
Can you help Savannah by donating resources to Fund the Gap by making a tax deductible contribution?
Savannah is the perfect example of what The AJ Project wants to do as an organization. We provide resources to emerging artists so they can be artist! In this case we are trying to FUND THE GAP for Savannah and keep her dancing!
Our goals were set:
housing-studio time and stipend for travel for 6 weeks
As of 6/20/16 we have received:
two weeks of housing - $200 towards expenses -18 hours of studio time
As of 6/30/2016 we have received
3 weeks of housing - $225.00 towards expenses - 18 hours of studio time at one studio and free Double Barre classes at another
We still need:
7 days of housing - additional funds for metro cards
Savannah Lee - The AJ Project supporter and ballet dancer.
Like so many emerging artists, Savannah has sacrificed so much. She worked her ass off in odd jobs, trained continuously so she would be ready when the opportunity arose and auditioned for every opportunity she could. For the past few years she has been living in various places including a convent( yes I said a convent) and a retirement home that offered rooms with a ballet dancer roommate so she could afford to live and train in New York City. That is sacrifice!!!
If you or someone you know has a safe place for Savannah to stay from July 19th- 27th or would like to contribute to a fund we set up to help her out until she starts her contract you can either contribute on the link below or contact Christine@4theajproject.org.
Your contributions will directly purchase housing, transportation, dance classes and a stipend for Savannah. The AJ Project will not keep any portion of the proceeds.
The AJ Project is a non-profit 501(c)3 that works with adults in the arts by connecting them to resources to help them survive. Their motto is "Adulting" in the arts is hard. We make it easier!
The Videos are up from the Tony Viewing Party!!!! Check them out
Special Shout out to our friends Jeff Blumenkrantz, Amanda Lamotte, Heather Purcells and Natlaie Charles Ellis, live from Broadway, who helped out with the Trivia Questions!
and to our performers
Haley Claire, Rachel Lauria, Kitty Perrelli and Alexander Sage Owen
(Tag yourself and Share!) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmTqZ-ypm8zRs-nXmkSs6TyXJnNb1Ehij
Thank you to all who came out and had a fun night celebrating the Tony Awards with us at The Astor Room in Astoria! Sign up for our newsletter to receive information about our upcoming events!
The evening featured special performances, trivia and raffles hosted by
Comedian, Cate Weinberg and Choreographer, Steven Cardona.
Tickets were $20 in advance and $25 at the door which included 1 free drink and a light menu.
7 PM- The Astor Room 35-11 35th Ave Astoria, NY 11106
Want to host a Friendraising event in your area? Contact Christine@4theajproject.org
One month before he passed away, AJ finally finished his website.
On there he wrote an “About Me.” These are his words.
First the fun stuff. I am the oldest of four children, a native New Yorker, I love all music from Mozart to Marilyn Manson and everything in between, and a little fun fact, I know the tune to practically every song in history and the words to almost absolutely NONE of them ;-) Now my story.
At the age of three or four, I pointed (so I've been told) at the television screen in our small railroad apartment in Astoria, looked up to my mother and father and told them that I wanted to go THERE. They thought I was referring to Sesame Street. Of course that probably would have been a fantastic idea, but I think I was truthfully referring to the shows, movies, and stories that were constantly captivating me as a child.
By the age of ten, I started to do children’s musicals and plays with local theaters. By twelve, I was in the recording studio doing voiceover work for children’s shows and “English as a second language” tapes. By thirteen, I was told you needed be a "triple threat" and realized that I had two left feet and couldn’t dance.
I decided (after some convincing) that I would start to attend a tap and jazz class just to shake off the awkwardness. Apparently there was some dance in me after all. Nine months later I was offered a full ride scholarship to a dance school in Orlando, Florida. I practically lived in the studio and started to do all forms of dance. I had the fortunate experience of winning scholarships to New York and California to study even further and also become part of DDK, a pro am dance troupe. Remember this was way before it was cool to be a male dancer but I did it and loved it.
Five years later I was looking at a professional dance career. I started scoping out ballet companies to audition for after high school graduation and hoped to get to the next level. Well, as the adults and teachers in your life tell you, and as the semi old adage goes...“you should always have a backup because you never know what could happen. Dance is physical and you could have an accident and your career is over.” I didn’t have a backup, nor did I want one. I knew that I wanted to be on stage, sharing myself and story telling. This was the only life for me.
As luck would have it, three weeks before high school graduation, I was involved in a horrible car crash. I graduated high school in a wheelchair and my newly found dreams of becoming a professional dancer was dashing away. I was told by the doctors that it would take between a year and a half to two years to completely recover to normalcy and also to “find a new ambition”. They suggested that I would not be able to dance after the surgeries and the rod they put in my thigh attached to my femur may not allow me to gain my full strength. I had a choice and my “I don’t have time for this” kicked in.
Within four months, I was out of my wheelchair. Within one year, I was dancing again in my first show. From there, I decided to push the envelope and stare the “you can’t do this” in the eye. I trained and was hired to became a professional stilt walker with Universal Studios. My next goal was the arial arts and the silks. I did that too. I worked with several cirque companies throughout Central Florida.
After landing an international tour with Disney Live and Feld Entertainment, I traveled Asia and Europe for three years as an actor, dancer, and puppeteer. When I decided to leave the tour, I knew it was time to return to my roots and true passion. I knew that my dance shelf life would be coming to an end sooner than later. I also knew the longevity and strength it took to be on stage was getting more difficult for me due to my injuries.
Not so sure what I was going to do I moved to New York. I had some fear for the first time in my life. I auditioned for dance gigs, did some commercial work and picked up odd jobs to keep the money flowing. What if I couldn't do this? Be this?
It was then that it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was as if the clouds had cleared. I became so obvious to me that EVERYTHING happens for a reason. I would have never stopped dancing, and would have never been able to fully return and commit to my original and still very alive dream of being a professional and well trained actor if it weren’t for some bigger power putting something like an accident of that nature in my way.
It was at that point I put the dance shoes back on the shelf for a while. I applied for and was accepted to The William Esper Acting Studio. I diligently studied in many different classes of the craft and completed the two year acting program in May 2012. Since then my life has been committed to growing and learning within my craft as an actor.
I am applying my life experience and world travel to my work to become the fullest, sharpest, and most flexible and available actor I can be. Although I always continue my studies, and there is always more to learn, everything that I have acquired and brought to the table seems to be working wonderfully.
I am proud to say that I am now a consistently working actor in film, television, and theatre, and can’t wait to grow within my craft, myself, and my career.
Thank you for coming to my website, and I’m very excited to work with you soon!
Only weeks before his death, AJ finished setting up his website. He wrote his own "About me".
One of AJ's final head shots
First the fun stuff. I am the oldest of four children, a native New Yorker, I love all music from Mozart to Marilyn Manson and everything in between. Here's a little fun fact, I know the tune to practically every song in history, and the words to almost absolutely NONE of them ;-).
Now my story. At the age of three or four, I pointed (so I've been told,) at the television screen in our small railroad apartment in Astoria, looked up to my mother and father, and told them that I wanted to go THERE. They thought I was referring to Sesame Street, and of course that probably would have been a fantastic idea as well, but I think I was truthfully referring to the shows, movies, and stories that were constantly captivating me as a child. By the age of ten, I started to do children’s musicals and plays with local theaters, by twelve, I was doing voiceover work for children’s shows and “English as a second language” tapes, and by thirteen I realized that I had two left feet and couldn’t dance.
I decided (after some convincing) that I would start to attend a tap and jazz class, just to shake off the awkwardness. Apparently there was some dance in me after all. Nine months later I was offered a full ride scholarship to a dance school in Orlando, Florida which led to winning scholarships from dance conventions, study in California and New York and participation in a well known Pro Am dance company.
Five years later I was looking at a professional dance career and I was scoping out ballet companies to audition for after high school graduation. Well, as the adults and teachers in your life tell you, and as the semi old adage goes, “you should always have a back-up plan. You never know what could happen, you could have an accident and your physical career is over.” I didn’t have a backup, nor did I want a backup. I knew that I wanted to be on stage, sharing myself and story telling. This was the only life for me.
As luck would have it, three weeks before high school graduation, I was involved in a horrible car crash. I broke my femur. This is the biggest bone in your body. The strength of the leg and so very important for a dancer. In an instant my life changed. I was restrained to a wheelchair and the accident dashed away my dreams of being a professional dancer. I was told it would take between a year and a half to two years to completely recover to normalcy and to “find a new ambition”. The doctors said I would not be able to dance after the surgeries and rods that I had incurred.
My “I don’t have time for this” kicked in. Within four months I was out of my wheelchair, and within one year I was dancing again in my first show. From there I decided to push the envelope and stare the “you can’t do this” in the eye, and I became a professional stilt walker with Universal Studios. The next challenge was to become trained in arial arts and work with several cirque companies throughout Central Florida.
After landing an international tour with Disney Live and Feld Entertainment, I knew it was time to return to my native New York. I traveled for three years throughout Asia and Europe for three years as an actor, dancer, and puppeteer and have to say had the time of my life. It was rough and I knew that my dance shelf life was coming to a very quick end. Yes, I did rise to the occasion, but knew the longevity and strength would not last due to my past injuries.
It was then that it hit me like a ton of bricks, as if the clouds had cleared, it was obvious to me that EVERYTHING happens for a reason. I would have never stopped dancing, and would have never been able to fully return and commit to my original and still very alive dream of being a professional and well trained actor if that accident didn't happen.
It was at that point I put the dance shoes back on the shelf for a while and applied for and was accepted to The William Esper Acting Studio.
I diligently studied in many different classes of the craft and completed the two year acting program in May 2012. Since then, my life has been committed to growing and learning within my craft, as well as applying my life experience and world travels to my work. I want to become the fullest, sharpest, and most flexible and available actor I can be. Although I always continue my studies, and there is always more to learn, everything that I have acquired and brought to the table seems to working wonderfully and I am proud to say that I am now a consistently working actor in film, television, and theatre.
I can’t wait to grow within my craft, within myself, and in my career.
Thank you for coming to my website, and I’m very excited to work with you soon!
Joseph Bearese (Cinematographer/Director) — Joe and AJ had a friendship based on personal and professional respect. They met at AJ's Christmas Party in 2012, where their Italian roots and similar upbringing made for an instant bond. Joe is an accomplished NYC based cinematographer and director. His narrative work has been seen at Cannes short corner and film festivals around the world. His music videos have been broadcast on MTV, VH1 and BET. Joe directs and shoots "Psychodrama: The Series" which features AJ in season 1. Aside from the indie scene, Joe also shoots for high profile clients such as Chase TV, MTV, Durex, Nasdaq, Seefood Media, Columbia University, Shark Tank, Lafayette 148, Hyatt, and many more. To see some of Joe's work, search his professional page on Facebook, joeybwhoelse or visit joeybwhoelse.com.
Yessenia Escano (Family Services Coordinator, Live On NY) — Yessie never met AJ in life; her introduction to AJ was at his bedside in the hospital. She is the LiveOnNY Donor family advocate. Yessie felt an unexplained connection to AJ and was there to witness the hundreds of visitors who came to AJ's bedside. Yessenia has been serving the needs of donor families for 12 years. She is assigned to seven major hospitals in the NYC area where she counsels families regarding the process of donation, provides specialized support intervention services and offers families the opportunity to authorize organ donation. Currently, Yessie also serves in the AMAT Strategic Advisory Committee as Donor Family Advocate. In 2014 Yessenia received the DonorCARE award for ongoing Commitment to Excellence in Donor Family Support by Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation.
Kitty Perrelli (Performing Artist, sister of AJ Perrelli) — "Cat Cat" or "Kitty Cat" was what AJ called her. Kitty conveys her relationship with her brother as soulmate and muse. He was her biggest fan and encouraged her in every way. Like her brother, Kitty is a "triple threat". Unlike most little girls, Kitty started dance because of AJ- not the other way around. She has studied dance, singing, theater and acting and is a wonderful french horn player. Her current passion is training in the art of silks. She has performed in community theater, has been cast in several short student films, was contracted as a studio singer and is currently working on a project as the lead singer for a band called Donner Social. Kitty works with various entertainment groups like E Three, Heart and Soul and Chez-zam.
Edward Savage (Legal Counsel, Brand & Glick & Brand) — Edward is currently a partner at the law firm that has graciously offered to be the legal council for The AJ Project. He has guided the project from inception to the non profit status. He specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice and general corporate matters. As an experienced litigator, he has tried numerous cases to successful verdict.
Raymond Serna, Shoe Designer, Visual Artist, former Creative Director,Tommy Bahama— Raymond met AJ by chance one day as he was sitting at Dave & Busters with a friend. AJ was taking pictures and offering free key chains (for tips). Raymond looked down at AJ's feet and asked "Are you a size 9?" He was and Raymond hired AJ as the very first shoe model for the premier line for Tommy Bahama men's shoes. Raymond always looked forward to fitting days with AJ because he knew he was going to laugh a lot and have fun. Raymond has offered to host master classes for The AJ Project in the business of design.
The AJ Project is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. No goods or services were provided in exchange for your generous financial donation.