Cayman advances at arts championship

Jaedyn Hanna and Rita Estevanovich

A team of nine from the Cayman Islands and their national director, Antonio Dennis, have been performing at the World Championship of Performing Arts over the past week.

Melody Allenger, Erica Assai, Aleah Copeland, Rita Estevanovich, Jaedyn Hanna, Tia McPherson, Jordyn Thompson, Somali Thompson and Carlie Tibbetts traveled to Los Angeles on July 5 to participate in the annual competition for the first time. They found themselves up against talent from international teams such as Australia, Japan and Colombia.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Rita, Tia, Melody, Jaedyn and Erica had made it through to the semifinals, and on Thursday evening, the finalists were announced, including two from the Cayman Team: Rita and Jaedyn.

Mr. Dennis gave some insight into the whirlwind schedule over the past few days, saying that once the semifinalists were revealed, they had 30 minutes to get changed and prepare another piece from their repertoire.

“Jaedyn performed Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing’ and Rita performed a comedic monologue as five different characters,” said Mr. Dennis. “The finalists were announced at a party on Thursday evening, and every time a country’s representative was announced, a cheer would go up from their team.

“It has been a wonderful atmosphere here,” he said.

Considering the fact that it is Cayman’s first time participating at the Performing Arts competition, Mr. Dennis is very impressed with how the team’s talent and performances have compared to those from other countries.

“We have done very well, and I’m very proud of everyone in Team Cayman, particularly as this is their first year,” he said. “Five of our nine performers got through to the semifinals and we have two in the finals.

“Some of our other team members could still medal as well, so we are all looking forward to the awards ceremony on Saturday.”

Part of the competition’s appeal is the promise of talent scouts, agents and producers in the audience.

“Members of Team Cayman have had over 30 invitations between them to have ‘go-see’ meetings with talent agents,” Mr. Dennis revealed. “For example, Erika had nine invitations and Melody got eight.”

Mr. Dennis said that the overall experience has been invaluable for Cayman’s performers and that they have socialized a lot with people from other countries.

“We get a lot of other team members coming up to get pictures with them … they are fascinated by the Cayman Islands.” All of the winners will be announced online at www.wcopa.tv on Friday at 8:30 p.m. Cayman time.

Auditions for the 2019 Cayman Team will be held later this year. For information, visit www.wcopa.tv/cayman-islands.