A dancer has taken top spot at the second annual Langley Has Talent competition.
Lauren Tokiwa earned the honour, along with a cheque for $2,500 and a prize package which included a diamond necklace and photo shoot, for her jazz dance routine to Drive All Night by Need to Breathe.
Following her performance at Christian Life Assembly on Saturday night (May 5), the 18-year-old dancer was praised by the panel of three judges for both her precision timing and her seemingly boundless energy.
Jolienne Moore of JL Model Talent Management said there were times when she wanted to jump up on the table and dance along with Tokiwa.
“But it’s not that kind of show,” she laughed.
“It was an incredible performance,” Moore continued. “You understand what it takes to put on a show.”
Tokiwa said she was stunned when her name was called at the end of the night.
“The stage was lined with such talented people, to hear my name was shocking,” she said.
“Performing for such an energetic audience was a treat and I couldn’t have had more fun on stage that night.
“I knew I tried my best so whatever the results may be I would be proud of myself and knew my family and friends would be as well,” she said.
Tokiwa, who choreographs her own routines, competed in the first annual Langley Has Talent contest last year but did not place. She prepared in much the same way this time out, she explained.
“I chose a song I love and knew I would enjoy dancing to in hopes that the audience would see that and respond positively.
“Dancing is different from singing being that my total routine time is much shorter than a singers,” she noted.
“Dancing is a sport and much more athletic than people think. I can only jump and turn around a stage for so long before I need a break so I have to really try and sell it for the three minutes I am on stage.”
With the contest behind her, Tokiwa has returned to training full time with her dance crew “Elevate” and is preparing to enter her second year of university in the fall. Through her agents at daCosta Talent, she is continuing to audition for both dance and acting roles. She’s also given some thought to trying out for Canada Has Talent.
Despite being one of only two dancers in a contest dominated by singers (there were 10 in the finals), Tokiwa felt the judges panel, comprised of Moore, Global Television’s Steve Darling and B.C. Lions offensive lineman Ben Archibald, was well balanced, giving everyone an equal shot.
“It was anyone’s game,” she said.
In the end, second place (and $1,500) went to singer Jillian Mandy Hart for her powerful rendition of Hurts So Bad by Susan Tedeschi, while Cassandra Cavalli, who sang the Eagles’ Desperado, took third place and a cash prize of $1,000.
Following the show, both Hart and Cavalli took a moment to praise their fellow contestants and to thank contest organizers — including Langley’s four Rotary Clubs who sponsored the event — for their hard work and professionalism.
“This has been such a wonderful experience; a safe place to reveal, nurture and grow my talent.
“I have learned the value of facing life-long fears, taking risks, owning choices, and following my passion,” said Cavalli.
“I know a lot of people dedicated their time to this and it showed,” said Hart.
Proceeds raised at both the semi-finals, held in April, and last Saturday’s finale will be used to help build a legacy fund toward the construction of a performing arts centre.
It’s something that is long overdue, according to Tokiwa.
“I’ve travelled to small towns such as Prince Rupert and Duncan for dance provincials and they have performing arts centres, so it seems strange to me that Langley doesn’t have one as well,” she said.
“Langley Has Talent has truly proven that we have a passion for the arts and would thrive with a facility to exercise this passion.”