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UPC hosts talent show

Tuesday night’s Registered Student Organization (RSO) talent show marked the first in a series of Homecoming events organized by the University Programming Council (UPC). The show was hosted by guest comedian Tim Young and featured performances by the UMass Ballroom Dance Team, Zeta Phi Beta, Insanely Prestigious, the Haitian American Student Alliance (H.A.S.A.), Straight Hip-Hop and the Dynamics.

Tim Young was less comic gold than comedy kryptonite with his rehashed jokes about campus life. Drunk people are funny, right? End joke. Mercifully, Young’s act lasted only about fifteen minutes as an introduction to an otherwise enjoyable show.

The true talent Tuesday night came from select campus RSOs, who danced, stepped, jived and sang for the chance to win $500 to put toward one of their upcoming events, courtesy of the UPC. The RSO talent show is a part of the homecoming events hosted by the UPC this week in anticipation of the football game against the University of New Hampshire on Saturday.

“It’s a good event for homecoming because it’s a way to collaborate with all the different RSOs on campus,” said UPC Secretary Brianne Niego.

The show opened with a performance by the UMass Ballroom Dance Team who performed a rumba to Robin Thick’s “Lost Without You” and a jive to “Candyman” by Christina Aguilera. Zeta Phi Beta followed them in a recitation of the poem “Beautiful,” which began as a song but broke into spoken word in the middle of the performance. Insanely Prestigious performed a stepping routine, which won the audience vote for the first three groups.

The second half of the show featured a skit performed by H.A.S.A., a hip-hop routine by Straight Hip-Hop, and an a capella routine by the Dynamics. The Dynamics won the audience vote of the final three groups.

Some of the most spontaneously entertaining moments of the night came at halftime breaks between performances, in which audience members were called to stage and asked to dance for the chance to win gift certificates to Six Flags, Bueno y Sano and Food for Thought Books.

One of the more poignant acts of the night came from H.A.S.A. Members who performed a skit about overcoming domestic violence, set to the song “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush. The skit depicted a woman in an abusive relationship who ultimately has the courage to leave her husband. H.A.S.A. member Daniel Lauture, who played the abusive husband in the skit, feels that the message about overcoming abuse and neglect in relationships is relevant not only on college campuses, but everywhere.

“I think that the main message is, from the abused person’s perspective, to stay strong in relationships,” said Lauture, “And from the abuser’s perspective, it’s not to take love for granted.”

The skit was followed by a poem written and performed by H.A.S.A. President Leo Jean-Louis about the consequences of not appreciating women. Jean-Louis first wrote the poem for a spoken word event at Mt. Holyoke, and worked with H.A.S.A. to create the skit, providing audience members with an increased visual connection in the performance.

“I think it serves as a model for relationships,” said Jean-Louis “and how it’s ok for people to get out of that situation.”

H.A.S.A. came in third place in the overall competition. First prize was split between the UMass step group Insanely Prestigious and the Dynamics a cappella group. These same groups won second and first place in last year’s talent show, and were clear audience favorites again this year. The two teams will split the $500 prize money from the UPC.

This is the second year the UPC. has hosted its RSO talent show, which is open to any RSO on campus and welcomes talents of all kinds.

“Any RSO is welcome to participate,” said Azajuah Johnston, Multicultural Chair of the Programming Council. “We send out emails to the various groups and the ones that contact us get in the show.”

Johnston, who organized the event, thought the show turned out “good, really good,” and that the talent show will likely return next year. This sentiment was reinforced by the participating RSOs and audience members.

“The talent show was really awesome,” said Katie Zavoski, captain of the Ballroom dance team. “It was really great to see the other student organizations on campus. I really enjoyed watching all of the groups perform and I liked how each of the acts was different from each other. It gives a good perspective on how diverse UMass is.”

The talent show was just the first of a series of events UPC will host for Homecoming this week. Other events include Wednesday’s ‘Spirit on the Concourse,’ in which UPC sponsored free giveaways in the campus center from 10 a.m.-2 p.m, Club U from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. on Friday at the Curry Hicks Cage, and a late-night screening of “The Proposal” at 8 p.m. on Friday night.

Rachel Dougherty can be reached at rdougher@student.umass.edu.

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