Members of the judging panel were taken aback by the standard of performances at the UJ Can You competition held at the UJ Arts Centre last night.
“The standards were high,” said Lebo Mashile, a well-known poetess. She said that what she witnessed was extraordinary coming from students who were not studying art full-time.
Mashile was reduced to tears after being moved by the performances. “I wish there [were] poets [in the crowd] that are 10 or 20 years older than these guys who [could] see this,” she said.
Talent scout Quintus Jansen said the judges had a tough time deciding on who the best slam poet was because the stakes were phenomenally high.
House musician Zano even went as far as offering his services as a lecturer when UJ gets a music program. “I’m more excited to have had the opportunity to hear the talent that UJ has here; I think you guys have exceptional talent,” he said.
Dance instructor and owner of 4thWall Management Andre Dellow encouraged the contestants to pursue their talent. “I just want to ask the finalist one thing, don’t stop,” Dellow said. “Keep on following your passion.”
Despite the language barrier, the performances were touching and meaningful enough, Dellow told The Open Journal.
People came in numbers to see the show. The top 18 contestants (six from each category) opened the event with a performance of the song One night only from the movie Dream Girls.
The competition is hosted annually and this year’s theme was My City My UJ. “What is your hustle? What makes you tick? As we all know Joburg is the city of gold, but how do you get the gold?” said Lakin Morgan-Baarjies, UJ’s Production Co-ordinator and Publicist.
The competition is aimed at showcasing the artistic talents of students who are not necessarily studying art. “We are not saying quit school and do art; we are just saying study and also embrace the talents that you have,” said Morgan-Baarjies.
Prior to the main event, contestants were put through boot camp where they were trained by instructors for their respective categories.