The 2023 Berkeley High School Talent Show was filled with laughs, song, dance, and surprise original raps. Families, friends, and students arrived at BHS’s Little Theater on Thursday, Nov. 2, to watch an hour and a half of students performing their acts and talents. This year’s show was run per usual by sophomore leadership and John Villavicencio.
A highlight of the night was the remarkable dance performed by freshman twin sisters Catalina and Valentina Oyanadel Alfaro. The two performed in near perfect unison to the song “Break My Heart Myself” by Bebe Rexha dressed in matching green pants. They started off the song hand in hand. The performance was upbeat, and almost eerie to watch as the two girls mirrored each other’s movements perfectly. Whether it was a sidestep or an arm raise, they were in perfect sync.
Both girls stepped off the stage smiling. Unbeknownst to the audience, this was their first time performing.
“We were a little nervous,” said Catalina Oyanadel Alfaro, speaking for herself and her sister. “But the audience was so cheerful. It was a very good experience.”
Another performer that night, senior Ty Walthall, agreed: “With the BHS talent show, you have people in all stages of doing what they’re doing. It’s relatively low stakes,” Walthall said.
However, for Walthall this was far from their first experience.
Walthall, who sang “Anything But” by Hozier, also performed in last year’s talent show and has a background in theater. Their soulful and strong interpretation of the song incorporated lots of physicality, and they exhibited a comfortable stage presence. The audience watched in complete silence before erupting in applause once they finished. The ease with which Walthall performed made it one of the most enjoyable acts of the night.
Another musical performance, an original rock song, was performed and written by a duo named “Madrona”. With Muhammad Delgado on guitar and Miguel Huhndorf Lima on drums, the song started off mellow with light drums and soothing but edgy vocals. Slowly, as the song continued, both performers got progressively more into the music.
Delgado gained confidence and started to sing the lyrics more loudly with more passion. At the same time, Huhndorf Lima began bobbing his head enthusiastically, with their twinning long wavy hairstyles moving along to the beat. The audience clapped and cheered loudly as Thirteen Colonies finished their set.
A later memorable performance was by junior Miles Aki, who played “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi on the drums. Another returning talent show performer, Aki seemed very focused during his performance. With the rock song blaring through the speakers, Aki’s drum performance elevated the song by adding more beat, improvisation, and depth. His enjoyment in his performance was clear, as he twirled his drum stick and later walked off the stage smiling. “It feels good,” Aki said. “It’s a little scary at first, but once you’re through with it, you’re proud of yourself.”
Despite it being a student talent show, Mr. Villavicencio couldn’t resist making an appearance and came out on stage to thank the audience, the organizers, the performers, and tech crew for their participation and hard work. He referenced a popular phrase among students and teachers this year: “Be there, or be square.” He then took this phrase and worked it into a Berkeley student-participation themed rap, something that he has made a tradition of at the yearly talent shows.
With no hesitation, Mr. Villavicencio delivered his self-written rap with lines including “Berkeley, Berkeley, Yellow, Yellow, Jacket, Jacket, swagger” and referencing student leadership, saying BHS leaders “change the world for you and me.”
Although slightly unexpected and surprising, the audience almost immediately took to his performance. Many laughed as Mr. Villavicencio enthusiastically worked his way around the stage. The audience’s energy also continued through to the next surprise performance, where an unnamed student came on stage to give a brief, mellow, somewhat befuddling rap performance that amused the audience.
“I really, really liked it,” said freshman audience member Sofia Dodge. “I thought a lot of the talents were really good.” Dodge also noted the importance of having talent shows for students since “it’s a great way to interact with the community and support the school.”