Talent Expo Stages a Night of Youth Performances
With Child Month having just come to a close, the observance was certainly “Moving in the Right Direction” with an impressive roster of young acts at the first-ever Child Month Talent Expo.
Following words of welcome by DCFS Director Paulinda Mendoza-Williams, the show at the Harquail Theatre opened to a stirring rendition of the National Song. Sung by the Williams Quartet, the siblings set the bar high with their perfectly harmonised delivery before the audience joined in.
George Town Primary School grabbed the crowd’s attention with their bouncy and energetic version of “Moving in the Right Direction.” Thanks to the students’ enthusiasm and the song’s upbeat lyrics, it became the unofficial theme of the evening celebrating the wealth and diversity of young talent locally.
Blues and jazz standards were belted out with conviction by John Gray High School’s Year 7 Pop Group. “Take Me to the River” and “Dancing in the Moonlight” were sung with a level of maturity which belied the band’s age. The lead singer’s James Brown shuffle earned him applause as did his impressive range.
Organizers then slowed the tempo down with “Away in a Manager” danced by Sir John A. Cumber Primary School students. Next up was a medley of pop songs by the Cayman Youth Choir. “Royal,” by Lorde, Annie Lennox’s “Sweet Dreams” and the Bon Jovi classic “Livin’ on a Prayer,” earned the singers well-earned applause.
The night’s first solo artist was Ruby Pileta. The Clifton Hunter High School student added regional flair to the line-up with a faultlessly executed version of “Pan in A Minor.” Butterfield Young Musician of the Year, Dequan Smith, played a cello solo. The evening’s first classical piece held the audience spellbound showing why he had recently won the prestigious accolade against stiff competition.
After the intermission Jamie Ebanks from Spark! School of Performing Arts sang. Her emotional rendition showcased the teenager’s impressive vocal range and delivery to full effect.
Mas and the spirit of carnival leapt onto the stage, helped by lively choreography, in “Hidden in the Kelp” performed by Sir John A. Cumber Primary School students. Infectious and life-affirming, the dance had the crowd cheering.
Artists who gave memorable vocal performances included soloist Keisia Blake from Clifton Hunter, and Spark! Vocal Performance Troupe which sang an arrangement of “Diamonds” by Rhianna.
Poet and this Child Month’s Poetry Slam winner, Alia Smith performed a self-penned piece. The expressive poem explored the difficult intersection between self-actualisation and community’s demands on young women with conviction and insight. Ukayla Dixon delighted the crowd with her technically on point and emotionally strong “I Choose You.” Her transcendent performance left the audience wishing that her set could have been longer.
Completing the classical offerings of the night, was pianist Charles Henderson. Already a composer, the teenager clearly shows much hope for the future if that evening’s performance of Mendelsohn’s “No. 2 from Kinderstücke” was anything to go by.
Dreamchasers Cayman JRS dance troupe rounded out the Child Month Talent Expo. Performing “Afro Jazz,” the fluidly choreographed piece was well-executed by the dynamic dancers.
The free event offered a highly entertaining night of family entertainment. As the Child Month Talent Expo showed, there are plenty of gifted young performers in the local arts scene. The challenge ahead lies not just in nurturing and celebrating that artistry but also in using it to empower youth identity and self-expression.