Inside the Community Recreation Center’s auditorium, thirteen acts competed in the third annual Santa Clara’s Got Talent show on January 21. And, in front of a sellout crowd of over 300, Intercontinental Ballistic Movements and Weapons of Music and Dance (IBMWMD) rose to the top of the talent pool.
Led by co-directors Christelle Medalle and Estelle Johnson, the 21-member dance team of predominately Wilcox High School students (Matthew Pingole of Santa Clara High was the only non-Charger) blew away the judges – Youth Commission staffers Melissa Bowling, Iris Valdez and Matt Arensberg – with their dance routine.
“It was a surprise (to come in first) because we have no dance background,” said Wilcox senior Medalle of her team comprised of ninth through 12th graders. “But we worked so hard, so at the same time, it wasn’t a surprise.”
IBMWMD has placed in all three Santa Clara’s Got Talent shows, taking first in the inaugural competition, then known as Epicdemic, before finishing third, as Nameless, last year. Upon being introduced, their reputation preceded them as the crowd roared in excitement for what was to come.
“We were very nervous before going on stage,” said Medalle. “But when people cheer the way they did when our name was called, we got pumped up.”
With its first-place finish, IBMWMD was awarded a $500 prize, 10 times the amount the team received for its third-place finish a year ago ($50).
“With $500 we can do a lot (as a team),” Medalle said, pondering how the team would use its winnings. “It’s tradition for us to spend the money on bonding experiences, so we’ll all go out together and spend it.”
Taking second, and a $250 prize, was first-time entry French Toast Mafia. Comprised of five high schoolers – Kenny Anderson, Nevin Hall, Patrick Maningo and Johnjet Angeles of Santa Clara, and Brian Pacheco of Wilcox – French Toast Mafia had little practice before wowing the crowd with their breaking and tricking (a mix of break dancing and martial arts) dance routine.
Friends off the stage, French Toast Mafia, with little choreography, had a chemistry that impressed the judges. “We’re pretty surprised we finished second,” said Maningo, “especially with only two days of practice.”
Mission College student Calvin Canchola, 20, a participant in all three shows, took the third prize of $125 with his original, untitled song. After taking second in the first competition, Canchola didn’t place last year.
“It’s exciting as hell to be awarded for a song I wrote,” said a humble Canchola whose song was a thank you to all his friends and family who have helped him through the years. “It means a lot.”
Canchola has been saving for a road trip to play his music at venues throughout the country. He plans to use his earnings to help with his travels.
Half of the proceeds raised for the event go to the winners, the other half goes toward the Youth Commission Scholarship Fund which is awarded this spring.