After hours of practice and auditioning before a panel of experts, a select number of singers, dancers and musicians were chosen to perform at the Heritage Arts Center Association’s “Spotlight On Talent” event, now in its 31st year.
Getting there was the hard part. The event itself, held in two separate performances on March 29 at the Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel High School, should have been easier. But the “Spotlight On Talent” finals brought their own challenges for the performers.
The early showcase, which featured younger performers, was hampered by inclement weather, including thunderstorms and tornado warnings that severely affected audience turnout, organizers said. And the later showcase was disrupted by an inadvertent fire alarm, which required a visit from the fire department and a full evacuation of the auditorium.
But according to Barbara Friedman, who produced the talent show and is a member of the organization’s board of directors, those obstacles didn’t prevent inspired performances by the finalists, well-deserved recognition for the winners, and another successful talent showcase for young people in the area.
“The performances were fabulous,” she said. “Truly, they are destined to go on to wonderful careers and go on with their talents.”
All performers and judges made it to the early show despite bad weather, and the fire alarm didn’t rattle the late show contestants, either. Attendance for both shows was around 400, with more than 120 performers representing more than 60 different acts, taking part in the shows.
Their ability to overcome unexpected events demonstrates that they’ve already successfully learned and implemented a “the show must go on” mentality, Friedman said.
Winners were recognized in several categories, and one also earned $1,000 as the recipient of the Pasco Heritage Scholarship, which is given to a Pasco graduating senior each year.
But even that winner didn’t have an easy road to his victory. In fact, he made a mistake early into his contemporary dance routine.
“In the beginning, I was supposed to do this leap and then roll to the ground. But I leapt, and when I put my foot down I missed the floor and landed on my back,” recalled Riley Reardon, a senior at Land O’ Lakes High School. “But then I just kept on going because I was supposed to go to the floor so a lot of people didn’t even notice. Right then I was like, ‘Wow, I already messed this up and I’m only at the beginning of the dance.’”
Reardon was able to recover, impress the judges throughout the rest of his dance, and capture the scholarship. And it probably helped that he knew the routine so well: Reardon choreographed the dance himself, and even choreographed a duet dance for his sister, Devin, for her performance at the “Spotlight On Talent.”
Dance is a big part of Reardon’s life. He practices for hours each weekday at Broadway Dancesations, a dance studio in Lutz. While it requires considerable practice and focus, he said it’s a creative break from the challenging course load he takes as part of his school’s International Baccalaureate program.
Choreography also is a fun activity for him, since he gets to match up a dancer’s strengths with routines that showcase their abilities. Reardon said that watching others succeed with dances he creates can be more rewarding than actually performing them himself.
But he won the scholarship with his own performance, and he found the victory satisfying for multiple reasons. He’s been performing at the “Spotlight On Talent” for a few years, and it was nice to be recognized in his senior year.
The money is a welcome prize, too. Reardon is looking at a few schools, and while he hasn’t made a final decision yet, it looks like his choice will probably take him out of state, which means higher tuition costs and additional living expenses.
Wherever he attends school, he said the money would come in handy.
“I’m really excited. College is super-expensive, so just having a little bit of help really does go a long way.”
Published April 9, 2014
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