When my oldest daughter was in fifth and sixth grade, she school she attended would have an annual talent show. This talent show was held during the evening so parents, family and friends could attend. My daughter plays the piano and plays very well. She would always select a song that she liked from some of her recent lessons to perform. The songs she selected were never current hits. Most of the time, the songs she played would not be anything that most of the people in the audience would recognize. But she always did a great job with her performance and I was always a proud father.
While the main reason to go to this show was to see my daughter and support her, it was far from the only reason. We knew other kids that were performing. We had heard rumors about other performances. We knew that we would be entertained with good and bad performances. We knew that we would be entertained by an enthusiastic crowd.
A staple of these talent shows was the dance acts. These dance groups would have anywhere from 3 to 15 kids. The groups were usually all girls. There would be an occasional boy in the group. The choreography was usually very simple and repeated over and over. There were occasional groups that would have kids with tumbling and gymnastics skills, adding flips and cartwheels to the performances. But most of the groups would do simple steps that you might see them performing in front of their houses next to a boom box on a spring day. The skill level required for most of these dances was very low, mainly requiring a sense of rhythm. The ability of the dancers had little to do with the reaction of the audience. The reaction had everything to do with song selection.
All of these groups would pick current hip-hop songs for their performances. They were all songs that were the latest hits by the most cutting edge artists. The lyrics may have pushed the limits of what would be acceptable to play in a school setting. It wouldn’t have mattered if they were the nastiest, most sexually graphic lyrics possible because the talent show was held in a gym. By the time the sound was done bouncing around the concrete walls and wooden bleachers, you would be lucky to even recognize that there was a vocalist on these songs. Add to that the fact that the audience was screaming. By selecting these songs, the dance groups were guaranteed a wildly positive reaction. As soon as the first notes of any of these songs were recognized by the audience, there were immediate shouts. Chaos broke out in the stands. Dancing, hopping, screaming, shouting and fists pumping into the air were par for the course. The audience was just as entertaining as the performers. And anyone in the audience that listens to hip-hop music had the same reaction. Students, their baby brothers and sisters, parents and probably even a few grandparents all joined in as part of the celebration.
One of the dance acts during the middle of the show stood out that night above the rest. There were two girls and a boy dancing. When the song started, the audience immediately broke into their regular routine. It was as much about the music as it was the performers. Except for the lady sitting on the first row of the bleachers in front of my family. She stood up and started dancing in circles. As she danced, she would pump her fist into the air and occasionally sing, “Go Jackie, Go Jackie, Goooooo!” We didn’t know this woman or any of the kids performing but we assumed that Jackie was one of the people in the act. Seeing a mother cheer on her kid during a performance was something new and very entertaining. As the performance went on, Jackie’s mom continued to shout, “Go Jackie, Go Jackie, Goooooo!” But it soon became obvious that Jackie’s mom was more caught up in the music and her own cheering and dancing than she was in anything that Jackie was doing. She rarely glanced at the dancing on the floor. Most of the time she was so into what she was doing that she had her eyes closed. So when one of the performers fell to the ground with a cramp in her leg, Jackie’s mom, continued to dance and yell, “Go Jackie, Go Jackie, Goooooo!” Jackie’s mom finally stopped when the music did. It was only then that Jackie’s mom saw Jackie writhing on the gym floor in pain. She immediately ran to her side to tend to her daughter.
You can only get entertainment like that at an Intermediate School Talent Show.
Singer, Songwriter, Entertainer, Storyteller