By Tristan E. M. Leach
As the first week of the spring semester came to a close, excited students made their way to the Yvonne theater for the first big event of the semester — Rider’s Got Talent.
On Jan. 27, eight talented Rider students performed for their peers in a show that featured a blindfolded piano player, poetry and much more. The prize for one of these talented students? A 43-inch television and a chance to perform at this year’s Relay for Life.
To kick-off the event, hosts Brandon Rios, a senior sports management major, and Darren Rush, a senior criminal justice major, introduced the show and the prizes. Rush and Rios explained the voting process and then revealed that this school year’s R Factor winner, Will Dusinberre, a sophmore film major, would be performing.
First up to perform was Andrew Snyder, a junior history major, and his band, Aliens Exist. The band impressed the audience with their musical skills and received great applause at the end of their set. Snyder revealed that the band had been performing for four years and that his greatest dream is to tour.
Next up was McKaela Jones, a senior majoring in marine science. Jones had previously wowed audiences in last semester’s Rider’s Drag Race, but this time, Jones chose to show off her tap dancing skills and danced her heart out as the audience cheered.
“What made me start tap dancing? My history. Black History,” said Jones proudly to the audience. Jones told Rios and Rush that she had been tapping since she was four years old.
After Jones was Randall Stys, a senior majoring in psychology. Stys, who went by the stage name M.I. Stys, performed spoken word poetry. In his poem, Stys expressed extreme feelings of loneliness and rising up in the world.
“I rewrote the narrative so now I’m the man,” said Stys in his performance. At the end of his poem, the audience clapped and cheered.
Next up was freshman Najee Davis, a music production major. Davis is known for playing trumpet around campus and can often be heard playing at late hours of the night. For his act, Davis wowed the crowd by playing the piano blind folded. Stunned silence filled the room as all eyes focused on Davis and his hands. For a moment after he finished, the silence persisted and then thunderous applause met the ears of Davis.
After the first four performances there was some audience interaction. Rios and Rush went into the audience and asked members who their favorite performer was and if they had any hidden talents.
The second half of the show was kicked off by Sanjana Butala, a senior biology major, who did Kathak dance, one of the eight major types of classical Indian dance. Butala performed to a mix of Indian music, Spanish and American music. Butala sported a traditional Indian dance outfit and wore jewelry and henna on her hands and feet.
“I call Kathak my passion and medicine, my profession, but I do want to pursue the art form as many years as I can,” said Butala. The audience cheered for Butala as she left the stage.
Next up was Naa’san Carr, a junior political science major, who performed poetry. Carr’s piece focused on the beauty of Black Women and their strength and resilience. At the end of his performance Carr talked about how he had been writing poetry since fourth grade.
When asked if he had any advice for people who want to write poetry, Carr said, “Everybody has a story. Poetry is you.”
After Carr was Toby Trish, who is a freshman majoring in general liberal arts. Trish break – danced to a mash up of “Everybody Dance Now” by C+C Music Factory and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. The audience was cheering excitedly for Trish.
At the end of his performance, Trish was asked how he got to be so good. “A lot of practice, a lot of practice,” said Trish.
The final act of the night was jumior Marissa Harding an English major. Harding played the piano and had the crowd cheering. She played her heart out and spoke about how passion is one of the most important things.
Finally it was time for voting. Each contestant came out on stage with a number that people could text to vote for their favorite performance. While the votes were being tallied, Dusinberre took to the stage.
Dusinberre sported cowboy boots and played the acoustic guitar, performing an original song about two friends who rob a liquor store and one of them gets shot and arrested. Dusinberre charmed the crowd with his smooth voice. At the end the crowd cheered just as loud as they had at R Factor when he won.
Finally it was time to announce the winner. When it was announced that Trish had won, the audience leapt to their feet in applause. Trish was extremely grateful for the victory and told the audience that he would be taking the television home for his family to enjoy. When asked if he was excited for the Relay for Life performance, he said, “Yes, I am. Yes, I am.”
As the show ended, excited students left the theater discussing their favorite performance of the night.
Kai Jones, a sophomore criminal justice major, said, “I like number three [McKaela Jones]. I feel like tap dancing itself is mad hard, but tap dancing to a beat, that’s cool.”
As students emptied into the chilly night, singing, laughter and excitement filled the air, all signs of another successful night of entertainment.
Watch the video of Rider’s Got Talent here