Talents on display at fundraising show for Haiti

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If you haven’t been previously convinced, this year’s Free the Children talent show set out to prove that “Townsend’s Got Talent!”

The acts included singing, dancing, piano playing, and even a spoken word performance. All of the proceeds raised at this event are going to help build a school in Jacmel, a town in southern Haiti that has suffered deeply in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

Suswana Chowdhury, junior, currently serves as the president of Free the Children. She played a major role in organizing “Townsend’s Got Talent” this year.

Suswana said, “I joined Free the Children my freshman year because I knew they organized the talent show and I wanted to be a part of it. I became especially interested when I found out that the proceeds at the time went to building a water system in Ecuador. Being a social activist myself, I thought that was pretty cool. I’m not a celebrity and I’m not world famous but Free the Children lets me be a 16-year-old that can still make a difference.”

Suswana spent weeks organizing this show. She said, “We asked people to sign up if they were interested in performing. At first we had twenty-six acts but then some acts dropped out. We held auditions and each performance had to give a one-minute preview of what they were working on so that we could trust they’d be ready in time for the show.”

On top of organizing the talent show, Suswana also performed in a duet with Nirvana Thakur, junior. The duo took first place.

Suswana reminisced, “I’ve been dancing for as long as I can remember. My brother is a professional dancer and he’s helped me out a lot.”

She continued, “It was difficult to choreograph my own performance and find time to practice while also organizing the show with homework and everything else. Once, I had to stay in school until after six. Nirvana and I choreographed until the day of the show.  I mean, winning was a total shock. We weren’t expecting it. We just did the show because of our shared passion for dancing and entertaining. We left our hearts on the stage. That’s exactly what we did.”

Suswana plans on organizing the event next year as well. She said, “I do wish that more people came to the show. We’re definitely going to work on that for next year.”

Charlene Levi, Social Studies teacher and  the club’s advisor, also played an integral role in putting together this year’s show. Ms. Levi commented, “The Talent Show? One of our best yet. It was wonderful. We raised 1300 dollars toward building a school in Jacmel, Haiti. We sold about 237 tickets although the actual turnout was lower. Townsend sure has talent!”

Ms. Levi’s contribution to the show was certainly appreciated. Suswana said, “Ms. Levi was such a great help. During the dress rehearsal, Ms. Levi actually called her second job and said she couldn’t go just to stay with us and get everything to be perfect.”

Nazifa Nasim, senior, and Jason Mills, senior, were this year’s hosts. Nazifa said, “Jason and I had a fabulous time hosting this year’s Free The Children talent show. While it was a bit chaotic for us to navigate backstage, the overall experience was definitely worth it.”

Nirvana Thakur, junior and performer, won first place with Suswana Chowdhury after performing a Bollywood medley. Nirvana commented, “My experience for the talent show was very exciting, for I wanted to perform and also had the perfect chance. Because I had a dance partner like Suswana, we were able to work together properly and enjoy our practices. I was surprised about our victory but I knew with our effort as one, we would be able to achieve it.”

Khalil Smith, senior and performer, won second place after entertaining the audience with a piece of his original spoken word. Khalil said, “My friend Carlos Perez came out to see me perform so that excited me. Also, I was surprised that trophies were being awarded so it made me feel good to go home at the end of the night with something. It wasn’t first place but second is still good.”

Gurprit Kaur, Talwinder Singh, Arminder Singh, Kirandeep Kaur, Nirvana Thakur, Suswana Chowdhury and Jasminder Garcha won third place with their dancing act. Gurprit, senior and choreographer, reflected, “Although there wasn’t a really big crowd, the audience was very encouraging and it made our execution that much more filled with energy. Overall it was worth the effort and it was nice to be a part of the show because it was for a good cause. I would hope to see more performances and supporters for coming years.”

The audience was very responsive during the show and was visibly enthused by the hosts’ performances and the talent show’s nine acts.

Audience member Joel Mampilly, junior, said, “This year, I was a little more empathetic to the talent show’s cause in light of the recent hurricane the East Coast was struck by. The people who displayed their talents did so for a good cause.”

“I thought the talent show was wonderful. It was a great opportunity for people to show off their talents and entertain us, all for a great cause,” said sophomore Ashif Ullah.

He continued, “There were people that performed that I had no idea could do those things. Jason and Nazifa were very enthusiastic and cheerful, which made the show even better. Townsend has a lot of smart people, but there are also many people that can sing, dance, and act.”