The Zenith of Talent at Tech: The Talent Show

On Tuesday, April 18, Brooklyn Tech showcased the tremendous skill and efforts of its students through the 18th annual talent show. With a variety of performances, ranging from dancers to musicians, and even a pen tapper, this year’s talent show offered a remarkable display of passion.

The first place award went to Purple Zenith, a rock band featuring guitarist Lucas Teo (‘23), bassist Daven Cole (‘23), guitarist Karsten Cole (‘23), drummer Gabriel Wolf (‘23), and vocalist Logan Pepper (Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School ‘23). The band is no stranger to a large crowd, having performed all over the city in various venues, bars, activism-related fundraisers, and in various other shows. Their original performance at this year’s talent show was very lively and fast-paced, as Pepper strutted across the stage, eventually pushing the microphone stand and jumping off to the pit, running close to the audience through the isles with the light following him. It was clear how connected the musicians felt to their performance as they expressed their passion through physical gestures. Teo noted, “As a musician, I think talent means how well you’re able to communicate what’s in your head through your instrument, so if you wanna think of a certain musical phrase, you should be able to play it.” With extensive practice and experience, this group brought a unique energy to the show and hailed their title as the first band to win first place through their lively expression.

TechUnique, Tech’s premiere dance team, won the second-place award. This accomplishment follows the recent third-place award the team won at its first competition of the Spring season. However, Jana Chan (‘23), TechUnique’s executive director, emphasized that the best prize that came from that night was not the award. “Just performing and displaying our talents to the Tech community because there’s not really a strong arts passion here, so the Talent Show is the one place that people specifically in the arts can come to display whatever they’re good at,” she said.

Chan followed by explaining TechUnique’s use of open-style choreography, a fusion of several dance styles that aims to help dancers master intricate dance moves, which inspired the incorporation of a train delay theme in their set design. The set design combined hype street styles like Hip-Hop and House with more contemporary ones like R&B and Low, which allowed its dancers to deliver an “intuitive, open, and interactive performance that pulled elements from different places.”

Stuti Das (‘26) was the only soloist to win an award, hailing the title of third place for her stunning Bharatanatyam fusion dance. Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance form that focuses heavily on facial expressions, bodily gestures, and acting techniques to convey spiritual ideas from Hinduism. Das has been dancing for nearly 12 years, under continuous training from her mother alongside her exploration in various other dance forms. At the talent show, she danced to the Bollywood song, “Silsila Ye Chaahat Ka,” followed by a classical piece. She wore a skirt, which she later tore off to reveal her traditional dhoti pants underneath. Her flexibility and encapsulating expressions made her performance truly eye-catching. She was able to elegantly bring her culture and her passion for dance to the stage.

Das noted, “My favorite part was definitely getting recognition because a lot of people know my culture and they know about me, and they definitely get to learn a lot about my culture. The best part is not really winning but just participating and getting my culture out there.” Das believes that every individual has a talent and that there isn’t a concrete definition for it. “I think it’s something special to you and something that represents you and your identity,” she stated, “whether you choose to show it or not.”

“Talent gets better and better over time. Some performances were unbelievably creative like the dinosaurs, something we’ve never seen before. They were creative and hilarious,” remarked Talent Show’s host, Ms. Manduley. Manduley followed by emphasizing the contrast between this year’s Talent Show from last year’s because last year’s remote performances led to interactive difficulties between audience members and performers.

This year’s in-person performance didn’t run without its own setbacks, however, as due to scheduling and time constraints, Manduley and the others who organized the Talent Show weren’t able to maximize ticket sales. In spite of these difficulties and the stress it put on Manduley and the rest of the COSA Office to organize it, the Talent Show went on.

“Why should I do this? When I see how much the students enjoy it, and the committee debriefing the show, it’s just as important to the students who perform as it is to the students who plan it, as it is to the audience, as it is to the judges. This is a place where any variety of what is considered talent is gonna have a chance to go and showcase that. Even though I got frustrated and didn’t wanna do it, I got over that real quick, and I will probably do it until I retire,” said Manduley.

After countless auditions, rehearsals, and callbacks, it was finally the evening of the Talent Show. One of the first highlights of the show, a duet between Amelia Tineo (‘24) and Kaya Richards (‘24) performed “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars. The passion they displayed singing their song electrified the crowd, marking the first time during the show that the audience turned on their flashlights in awe of a performance they were witnessing. Tineo, who is also a member of the chorus, mentioned, “You can’t really see anyone from up there, so I felt like I was singing in a dark room, but when the flashlights went on, I was like, ‘Oh, there’s people. That’s new.’ I was very surprised.”

Graceland Too, a duo formed by vocalist and guitarist Beatrix Madell (‘26), and drummer Sofia Orjuela (‘26), performed “Waiting Room” by Phoebe Bridgers, bringing true sentiment to the show. Both musicians showed true passion in their art and synchronized in great harmony, essentially encapsulating a warm and nostalgic feeling throughout the song. Alike Tineo and Richards, Graceland Too was also among the few performers to receive flashlights from the audience. Madell reflected, “I have only had that happen to me a couple of other times when I’ve been in shows and it is one of the best feelings in the world to have people really love you.” She noted that participating in the Talent Show was a very fun experience for her, as she deeply enjoys performing and spending time with Orjuela while preparing for the big day. “I think talent is something that you can do that makes other people feel a very strong emotion, like, if you do something that makes people happy or hopeful, or even very nostalgic, if it makes them laugh a lot,” remarked Madell, “anything that makes people feel a lot of feelings is a talent.”

Eric Chen (‘25), the aforementioned pen tapper and third-place winner of last year’s talent show, brought a unique take on talent to the show. As he nonchalantly walked to the table at the center of the stage with nothing more than a phone and a pair of drumsticks, the audience could already tell his performance was going to be different from the rest. Every movement of his wrists brought a loud, but rhythmic clap to the table on which he played. From using pens as drumsticks after dramatically throwing away the drumsticks he brought on stage to dropping his phone as a result of the trembling tempo of the table, Chen’s performance brought excitement to the crowd that only a few could hope to replicate. “When you’re born with something, you’re not just naturally talented or gifted. Everything you put your effort into and you put enough hard work into will eventually become a talent,” said Chen.

All in all, the long-awaited return of an in-person Talent Show was a huge success. It marked the very first time in the event’s history that a rock band won the first place award and featured multiple memorable performances like those of Graceland Too, UnderKover – Tech’s very own K-Pop dance group, the LaBella siblings, TechUnique, and the Dinos of Tech.