After a night of jaw-dropping dance numbers, empowering spoken word pieces, and hilarious interludes from the Soulstice League, Soulstice ended exactly how you would expect: with a lot of soul. With some of UCI’s most outstanding talents onstage and the Bren packed with a great audience, the third annual Soulstice talent competition was definitely the biggest and best one yet.
If you have a Facebook, there’s almost no way that your feed has avoided the Soulstice spam of the last month or so. For the uninformed: Soulstice is where UCI’s talented students go to strut their stuff, with performances by solo artists, bands, dance groups, a capella groups and fusion artists of all genres. While Soulstice is mostly a gathering in the name of art and soul, it’s also a talent competition, with the overall winner taking home five hundred bucks for their efforts. For a school that prides itself on excellent research skills and science-based academia, the Bren Events Center housed a surprisingly vibrant and thriving artistic community on Thursday night.
The first half of the show included stellar performances from a capella groups Andaaz and Uniting Voices; Andaaz fused John Legend’s ‘All of Me’ with the 2008 hit ‘Jai Ho,’ and UV’s set list included songs from Little Mix and *NSYNC. The audience also enjoyed a dance piece from the Natalia Garcia Project and an original composition from the rock group Deliverance.
An especially notable performance was a spoken word piece from artist Jenae Galang. Jenae, a fourth-year student pursuing a degree in psychology and social behavior, performed a piece on the realities of sexual assault. The artist brought a group of ladies onstage to emphasize the impact that assault has on all women, and encouraged the audience to chant, “Rise up!” The piece was powerful and showed the diversity in performance and genre that both UCI and Soulstice have to offer.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the night was the incredible presence of the Soulstice League, a troupe of students that served as the jokers, narrators and emcees of Soulstice. With both gut-busting video interludes (‘UCI’s Most Poopular Places’ was my personal favorite) and live skits between performances, the Soulstice League had the audience rolling with jokes that speak to the soul of every UCI student. The months of rehearsals and hard work definitely paid off for the Soulstice League.
After a brief intermission, the show resumed with great pieces from Timothy John and Imon Santos, two solo artists that brought a lot of soul and amazing musical ability to the table. Tiffany Jomoc brought some genre diversity with a beautiful three-person Polynesian dance piece that fell in the brand-new Fusion category of Soulstice. After an absolutely mind-blowing and style-defying dance piece from Peaches and Rings (including pirouettes and hip hop in the same number) and a funky number from the Backbeats, it was time for the judges to deliberate.
Some pretty remarkable judges joined us this year: members of the a capella group The Filharmonics, Dean of Students Rameen Talesh, and two marvelous ladies from “Glee,” Dot Marie Jones and Ashley Fink, among other fantastic judges.
While every single act put on a fantastic show, the judges tallied up their scores and chose some winners. Dana Hill, a girl with a guitar and the voice of an angel, took home the Solo/Duet Artist trophy with her beautiful original composition, while the boys of Doskcrew won the Band category with their mashup of Top 40 hits and some original rap from member Ryan Nguyen. The a capella category went to #FOURTY4B, a powerful four-person ensemble, and Jenae Galang won the Fusion category with her spoken word piece.
The dance crew, 50 Shades of Shade, won $500 and the titles of Overall Winner and Best Dance Group. By inviting dancers from all over Southern California to perform with them, the group showed how unifying and compelling the creation of art can be.
The show closed with a performance that is entirely representative of the spirit of Soulstice: all the acts came back onstage for a group rendition of Beyoncé’s “Love on Top,” with the singers belting their hearts out and the dancers freestyling.
Soulstice is only three years in, but the future of the show looks bright and illustrious after the stunning showcase presented by ASUCI on Thursday night.