Friday, May 02, 2014

A show of their own

The NYght must be hands down the most popular of events on campus. An hour before auditorium doors open there is already a line. The noise and excitement only gets more frenetic the closer we get to curtain-up, and stays throughout the performances until final curtain. And even then, the celebrations continue as the exhausted contestants meet with their fans at the stage apron. Selfies and glitter abound.

Only on a night like this do we get to see the kids letting their hair down, determined to have a good time. This is the talent contest of the year, not to be missed because somebody inevitably knows somebody appearing on stage, belting out their own versions of the latest hits and showing off slick dance moves -- displaying an unexpected mobility going by how they usually slouch at their desks during tutorial time.

The importance of this event is not to be underestimated. First, it is their one and only opportunity to showcase their raw, unpolished talent. This is talent they can truly call their own, unsullied by any teaching or instruction provided by the best coaches money can buy. Their efforts are self-taught, their coordination; compositions; arrangements; and rehearsals all worked on in their own time rather than predetermined through adult supervision. This is student ownership in the truest sense of the word, and it's wonderful to see the whole thing come together.

This is not to say that the staff are completely hands-off. Staff manage the event but the content and substance are provided by the kids themselves. In this environment, the audience is entirely supportive and encouraging. Hiccups in the individual performances such as going off-key; the inevitable technical faults and delays; lapses of concentration; and the awkwardness of stage-fright are taken in good humour; while the audience is ever ready to forgive, showing their support with rhythmic clapping; generous applause; and enthusiastic singing along, buoying each performer's confidence enough to gracefully finish the set.

I've never, in other campus events, seen students rallying for each other to this extent. In other events, the knowledge that the performance has been stamped and approved by trainers and coaches raises expectations a lot and the house becomes less forgiving. In sporting events, the audience are led to chant artificially composed cheers according to a forced 3, 2, 1 togetherness. But on the NYght, it's wild; chaotic; friendly-competitive -- and yet it also reflects the kids' strongest support for one another in the entire school calendar. The performances may not in themselves be perfect, but that imperfection brings out the perfectness of the unity within the student body. This is the students' show, so let's keep it that way. Always.

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