On the evening of Thursday, April 5, over a dozen of Kean University's most talented and artistically gifted students made their way to the Miron Student Center (MSC) Little Theatre in the first-ever Kean's Got Talent talent show. From 7 to 10 p.m., amazingly talented students wooed the crowd with their creative songs, dance routines, poems, raps and other unique talents for a great cause.
The night, hosted by Kean's Silver Leadership Institute, was dedicated to the Children's Specialized Hospital. Each ticket sold was a special donation to the hospital as a precursor to the Kean Dance Marathon (KDM), a 12-hour dance festival for the Children's Specialized Hospital taking place on Friday, April 20.
Cupcakes, cookies and other bakery treats for a bake sale, a station for card-making for the hospital's patients and a large spinning wheel with winnable prizes were on a table that students turned their admission tickets into. Those in attendance were also handed a red raffle ticket as winners were granted gift baskets throughout the night.
The rhythmic beats of DJ Nix in the Mix filled the room with sounds of the most popular hip-hop and pop songs which had the crowd of students jumping, singing and dancing as they took their seats. The official emcees of the night made their introductions to the crowd after the mix concluded.
Marius Price, a sophomore psychology major and the vice president of Nu Delta Pi; and Ashanti Lyking, a sophomore biology major and a student ambassador at the Admission's Office led the charge in being the emcees for the night, introducing each act as they set foot on the stage among the audience members waiting for the show to begin.
"One of my favorite things about events like these is that it is a great way for people to show face as everyone gets involved," Price said. "There are no different organizations, but everyone is just here for one goal for the kids."
The Kean Gospel Choir were introduced first and performed a phenomenal rendition of "Total Praise" getting the entire audience to their feet in a euphoric two minutes of praise.
The choir knew the whole meaning of the night was to raise money for the kids, and they did just that. "I think this was such a great event to bring everyone together to have fun," said Danielle Thomas, a junior majoring in graphic design and the president of Kean Gospel Choir. "This night gave the students a taste of what is to come [for KDM], and it opened their eyes to how much talent there is on the Kean campus."
The other three singers went soon after. Covers of popular songs and original pieces were performed by three students who did not disappoint. As the songs concluded, one final duet was sung for the audience. The act, titled Kenny and Mom, featured a mother and her son greatly assisted by the Children's Specialized Hospital who sang Irish folk tunes that had the audience members smiling from cheek to cheek.
The two hosts of the night came back onto stage to remind the attendees to log on to Cougar Link and vote for their favorite acts via their smartphones to determine the best act of the night. Three dance routines then graced the stage. First, the Kean Musical Movements dance crew set the stage on fire while earning voluminous acclamation inside the theatre. Next, freshman Farad Holmes-Wallace and sophomore Lorenzah Brown followed accordingly with a Jersey Club dance routine, complete with Jersey Club remixes of popular songs.
The mood then changed from cheerful to sentimental. Junior Lucero Lopez finished the dance section of the night, performing a contemporary solo piece to the hit Beyonce' solo, "Halo". The opportunity presented to Lopez for raising money for a good cause as well as doing something she loved was the only motivation she needed to blow the crowd away with her dance moves.
"Out of all of the songs and different dances that I could have done, I decided to do this one because I added acrobatics into it. It was something different for people to get into when they saw me perform," Lopez said. "I just felt the music and I danced with the song, so it all came out of feeling."
The final five freestyle talents were up next as the two emcees walked onto the stage to welcome the performers. As this talent section began, it opened with Kean graduate Keith Bell, who went by his nickname "Bellz" as he dropped some bars for the audience.
Soon after, senior Sara Ridgway then constructed her own version of the popular Taylor Swift song "Shake it Off", but instead of singing, she used sign language. Ridgway earned a standing ovation from those in the audience when she finished. Another special talent by Jennifer Alvarez-Otero was shown through her whistling mastery soon after.
Shortly after, the president of the Kean University Poetry Club and junior biology major Tierra Hooker performed a personal poem to the audience that brought forth the crowd's thunderous applause. Finishing off the freestyle section was rapper Onnist who performed an original piece and got the crowd involved to make his song all the more enjoyable.
Kean's Got Talent ended with a fun and lighthearted lip sync battle that got everyone laughing, clapping and dancing. Three pairs of student-faculty combinations all dressed up in funny costumes and delivered some hilariously unforgettable performances.
First up, was senior class president and communications major Damion Wilson who danced and lip-synched alongside Ms. Daisy, a popular cashier at Outtakes, to the MC Hammer song "Can't Touch This", which had the crowd hysterically laughing.
"What [tonight] did was open the floor for anybody that wanted to freely express themselves. We saw all of the support that was here today and we saw students that were very engaged, no matter the performance," Wilson said. "[Events like these] get the students out more, and enough students will see it that it is okay to go up there, have fun and embarrass themselves a little bit. It is fun!"
Later, junior criminal justice major and service specialist for the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS), Omar Dixon, teamed up with the Scott Snowden, the director of the CLS, for their own special version of the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" theme song, with the 1990s attire worn by Dixon and Snowden and old-school choreography added as a bonus.
Thomas got on the stage again to finish off the night with a 1960s themed rendition of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" with Alex Louis, the assistant director for Greek Life at Kean. They wore disco party costumes, with large Afros and bell bottoms to make their looks complete.
After the last performance, the final results for the student voting were revealed to the audience. Genesis Guzman was voted the best singer of the night, and Kean Musical Movements and Sara Ridgway were voted the best dancer and freestyle artist the night had to offer. The final fundraising total of $1,962.85 was announced and collective applause was heard throughout the theater.
A truly successful night and the first-ever Kean's Got Talent proved to be an experience many will always remember. For more information on the 12-hour dance festival, please visit the official website of KDM.