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Monday, June 24, 2019

WCC Talent Show is High-Energy Event

  • Photo by the writer Third-place winner in WCC’s Second Annual Student Talent Show, Morgan Foremen, defied dance convention with her performance to Yael Naim’s version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.”
  • Photo by the writer First place in WCC’s Second Annual Student Talent Show went to the Harris Johnson Band, a seven-piece ensemble who covered the Staple Singers’ classic “I’ll Take You There.”

An exuberant crowd filled Towsley Auditorium Nov. 11 for WCC’s Second Annual Student Talent Show. With 20 acts on the program, the evening showcased everything from hip hop to ballet to poetry to gospel drumming.

First place went to the Harris Johnson Band, a seven-piece ensemble dominated by two hard-driving drummers who set a breakneck pace for the band’s rendition of the Staple Singers’ classic “I’ll Take You There.” The sticks were flying as the two drummers beat out the rhythms accompanied by two electric guitars, electric bass, sax, and vocals.

“I was really impressed by the professionalism of the production and of all the performers,” said Ian Griffin, director of Student Activities and one of the evening's judges. “We scored the performers on skill, professionalism, crowd appeal, stage presence, and preparation. And aside from the winners, I gave two other acts perfect scores. It was hard to settle on a winner with such a diversity of acts. It’s difficult to compare poetry to singing to dance.”

Second place went to the winners of last year’s competition, hip hop dancers PatchWerk. The trio consists of Willie Baker, Tanisha Maxwell, and Ashley Sublett. The dancers had the crowd on its feet with their body-stretching moves, spins, and fast-paced choreography. Baker, who studies dance at WCC, choreographed the routine and selected the soundtrack of rap, hip hop, and reggae to which the trio performed. “We practiced three times a week, four hours a day, for two and a half weeks,” he said. “The moves were more challenging than last year, and I was really proud to see my choreography come to life through the very talented members of the group.”

Peter Leshkevich, a projects technical assistant at WCC who helped judge the competition, said he was struck by the show’s quality. “The crowd was excited, the performers were rehearsed, and the show went off without a hitch,” he said. “Students that I pass in the hallway every day were suddenly up on stage performing.”

Third-place winner Morgan Foremen defied dance convention with her performance to Yael Naim’s version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Her original choreography was part ballet, part hip hop, and part modern dance, and combined graceful classic moves with modern techno-robotic gestures to create a mesmerizing—and also slightly creepy—marionette-like performance. Her costume only reinforced the beautiful weirdness with a white harlequin face, full ballet tutu, and black high-tops laced in red. “Dance is my passion,” she said. “I teach a Dance4unity class at WCC and also perform at my church and other places. I would love to be a professional dancer.”

WCC student and Orchard Radio host Stephanie Mae was the MC for this year’s talent show, which raised over $120 in donations for the United Way. “I think this is our most successful event this year,” said Griffin.

“Even students who didn’t win feel validated by getting on stage and taking part in something bigger,” said Rachel Barsch, Student Activities coordinator. “It was a big high for everyone who participated.”

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