The Skirball Center for the Performing Arts was filled with chatter of anticipation for the Kollaboration New York 2012 performance on Friday night. As the show began, the crowd hushed, and all attention focused on the stage. As the lights turned off, Bollywood-hip hop fusion dance group Wanted Ashiqz came on.
Kollaboration New York is a non-profit organization and movement dedicated to promoting Asian-American performers. Friday night marked the group’s seventh annual New York showcase. Seven performers competed for a $1,000 grand prize, and four guest acts, including Gabe Bondoc. In the end, LSP freshman John Quiwa was named the winner. Quiwa will move on to the national Kollaboration competition in Los Angeles, Ca.
According to Linda Nguyen, Kollaboration’s volunteer manager, the staff started planning the event in February. The packed audience included not only NYU students, but also fans, friends and supporters of all ages.
“We hoped for a large audience who understood our motto [‘empowerment through entertainment’],” Nguyen said. “[I think] we went beyond our expectations.”
Founded in Los Angeles in 2000, Kollaboration seeks to empower Asian and Pacific Islander youths by providing an avenue for their creative energy. The movement has grown to encompass 14 cities across the United States and Canada. In the past, Kollaboration has helped support artists such as Kaba Modern, Far East Movement and BoA.
Judging the competition were Ted Fu, the co-founder of YouTube channel Wong Fu; Miss Info, a radio presenter; Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, a spoken word artist and Mikey Fresh, online
editor of Vibe.com.
“I’ve never been to a Kollaboration event [as a judge],” Fu said. “I don’t know if I’m the best judge for talent, but [I’m looking for] personality, talent [and] overall
After Wanted Ashiqz’s opening performance, the first half of the competition featured Brooklyn native John-Flor Sisante, Gallatin senior Justin Kim and Fordham sophomore Bea Go, all of whom sang original songs. The Mooks, a competing dance group, ended the first half of the show.
Previous Kollaboration competitor, Mitchell Gray, participated in the second half of the competition, along with the individual singers and freestyle dance competitors. Singers Izzy Salinel and Quiwa, and dance group UFP followed in succession. Guest performer Gabe Bondoc was the final performer for the show.
The performances were funny, energetic and, at times, poignant. Kim began by dedicating his song to his friend in the crowd. After he finished, he said, “I don’t want to spend another hour not being your boyfriend. So will you please be my girlfriend?” Quiwa dedicated his song to his family and loved ones, some of whom were in the audience.
“I’m really happy it’s so close to home,” Quiwa said. “[Sometimes] it’s so far away.”
Kim agreed that performing at Skirball is a different feeling.
“I know a lot of people in the audience,” he said. “It’s comforting.”
Bondoc revelled in the ways the performances give people inspiration.
“I think [Kollaboration] gives people an opportunity to see that you can make a living off what you feel you have to do in your heart,” Bondoc said.
A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 24 print edition. Howard Lee is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the previous version of this article, WSN incorrectly reported that Kollaboration encompasses 13 cities across the United States and Canada. In fact, it encompasses 14 cities across the United States and Canada. WSN also incorrectly reported that Gallatin senior Justin Kim dedicated his song to his girlfriend. In fact, he dedicated his song to his friend. WSN regrets these errors.
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