The university held its “Brandeis Has Got Talent!” event on Saturday Oct. 16 in Spingold’s Mainstage Theater on campus. The annually recurring Family Weekend event was not held last year due to COVID-19 health risks. Performances this year were limited to members of official Brandeis clubs in the past, but the Department of Student Activities (DSA) transformed the tradition this fall.
“We wanted to showcase individual performers and talents this year as well,” said Dennis Hicks onstage before the first act. Hicks has been the Director of the DSA since the spring of 2018. According to the Brandeis website, “if you visit his office you’ll always find him listening to music. His favorite musician of all time has always been Prince.” Hicks, a music enthusiast, organized the entire show—he recruited performers, produced the schedule and served as the host. The DSA director wore a blue “Shine Your Light” tee-shirt under a crisp black blazer, announcing each act in front of the auditorium’s red velvet curtain.
“It was the first time we’ve been in that space for this particular show,” said the DSA in an email exchange. The Spingold is a capacious performance space often utilized by the Theater Arts Department. The DSA claims that over 400 people attended the talent show, packing the auditorium.
“It was pretty full,” said Eli Dunn-Feiner ’25, a first-year at Brandeis. The audience members sat close together and were required to wear masks, unlike the performers that night. Dunn-Feiner mentioned that there were “a lot of people coming to see their kids perform, [and] a lot of kids coming to see their friends perform.” Dunn-Feiner attended the event to support his friend singing with VoiceMale, and like many other students, he brought his parents along.
Twelve acts performed over the course of an hour and a half, including groups like Hooked on Tap, Rather Be Giraffes (RBG), the Brandeis Ballroom Formation Team and Manginah. Dunn-Feiner particularly appreciated RBG’s set.
“It was my type of music,” expressed Dunn-Feiner, “a mix of old classics, a lot of ’80s. It just made me feel kind of in my element.” During “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles, the acapella group bopped with vigor, each member contributing to an infectious musical energy. It was a “pleasant surprise” for Dunn-Feiner to witness the talent of numerous acapella groups at Brandeis.
Daniel Hahn ’25 was more enthusiastic about the tap dancing. “It really stood out,” Hahn said about Hooked on Tap’s performance. The group wore purple and yellow tops with uniform black tights. The sixteen tap dancers performed second, clicking their heels rhythmically and fanning out their arms.
“I thought the talent show was pretty entertaining. Although there was a little more than enough singing, it still showed a variety of talent,” admitted Hahn, who watched the talent show because his roommate was performing.
In addition to the group acts, six solo performances were showcased. Students brought standup comedy, a choreographed dance and original music to the stage. When the show came to a close, applause echoed through the theater. Hicks offered a few closing remarks, thanking parents and students for attending.
“We look forward to seeing you tomorrow as we close out family weekend,” said Hicks before placing his microphone back in its stand. Along with the talent show, the DSA scheduled a slew of events for visitors on Saturday and Sunday, including faculty presentations, bingo and a fall crafts corner. “Brandeis Has Got Talent!” served as a centerpiece for Family Weekend—an opportunity to gather and appreciate talent on campus. It was a chance for students to unwind for an hour and a half during midterm season.
“It was fun to see how the community reacted to an opportunity to perform,” said Dunn-Feiner.