New Paltz’s Got Talent

What do a singer, belly dancer, poet, guitarist, an accordion player, yoga acrobat, water drummer, and impressionist all have in common?

They all performed in a talent show Tuesday, Nov. 16 in the multi-purpose room of the Student Union Building at SUNY New Paltz. The event was to raise money for Students for Fresh Water in Developing Nations (SFWDN).

SFWDN had students donate into a used animal cracker jar and sold water jugs as about 15 acts performed on stage in front of about 60 people. Other clubs included: Rap, Poetry, Music Club (RPM), Literary Magazine, SUNY New Paltz Slam Team and Absolut A Cappella.

One of the first acts was acrobatic yoga. Katie Grove, a 21-year-old visual arts major and Dustin Portzline, a 24-year-old environmental studies major were the acroyogies, the acrobatics of yoga. Together they performed by balancing each other’s weight and moving their bodies into different forms. Portzline, from Harrisburg, Pa., laid flat on the yoga mat with his legs up as Grove, also from Harrisburg, rested her body on his feet.

During the performance, a guitarist was playing a reggae song on a Ukulele. Then, Palma joined the act to fill in for Grove’s spot after she left. Everyone started laughing once Palma laid his back onto the bottoms of Portzline’s feet.

However, the audience became quiet and stared once 19-year-old Amy Diener belly danced across the room. Diener, a second-year art education major from Mount Kisco, has been belly dancing for seven years. During the performance, she shook her waste and hips like a wave while creating a jingling noise with her coin belt.

Diener got into the skill when a townie workshop had belly dancing outside her home. She danced for the Westchester Center of the Arts. Her interest in it led her to teach belly dancing at SUNY New Paltz.

When she dances, she focuses and thinks about what could be improved after the performance. After she performed, she stood at the corner of the room, away from the audience until eventually sitting back down. Diener dances and does yoga each day. She has danced at the Muddy Cup and Slash Route in New Paltz.

“I never performed for money, but I want to,” Diener said.

Later, Angela Crisci, 18, sang, ‘Where I Stood,’ by Missy Higgins. Crisci, a member of RPM, has previously auditioned for American Idol three times, having never made it to the judges. During the first few minutes of her performance, the sound system was not working. Unfazed, she attempted to humor the audience until the sound was up and running. Once the music started playing, she delivered a soulful ballad.

“I’m proud of myself for not letting technical errors ruin my performance,” Crisci said.

Besides auditioning for American Idol, she has performed on the Hudson Valley Star Search, as well as at numerous venues such as the Muddy Cup. As a kid, Crisci always had stage fright. Within the last year, she took eight months of voice lessons.

“RPM are nice. If you mess up, they snap their fingers instead of clapping because it’s in a coffeehouse,” she said, referring to the time she sang at the Muddy Cup.

Laura Lanchantin, Pat Lafferty and Mike Viscuso performed a cover of “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix with two guitars and an accordion. A couple of slam poets, including 21-year-old Kate Brady, who shared a scandalous but honest poem with the audience. Another performer created a whammy sound by tapping on a jar full of water.

Another act was by Alyssa Fernandez, 18, from Sleepy Hollow. Fernandez did a short comedy sketch of impressions. She did impressions of a chicken, the Disney cartoon character Stitch from the movie Lilo & Stitch, and the Nickelodeon cartoon character, Ms. Fowl, from the show Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. It was her first time performing on stage.

“I detach myself from my body,” Fernandez said as she gets into character.

The event wouldn’t have been possible if Katie Lipson, 18, hadn’t done the paperwork. Lipson, a psychology major from Great Neck is one of the leaders of SFWDN. During a meeting with the club, Lipson created the idea for the show and then had to present it to the Student Activities and Union Services (SAUS) office. She then handed out fliers, sent out emails and Facebook invites.

“It didn’t take off until Facebook,” she said.

By the last act, about half the audience had left. Absolut A Cappella harmonized a few cover songs.

Besides entertaining people, the Talent Show raised awareness and SFWDN recieved more than $120 in donations.

Anthony Vecchiarello

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