Talents shines at Moffat County High School show
February 6, 2016
Craig — Bekah Bird recalls when she used to feel nervous performing in front of other people — so nervous, in fact, it was difficult for her even to speak.
"I couldn't say my name; I couldn't say anything," she said, as she recalled trying to introduce herself in a big group. "I was so scared. From then on, it progressed. It started getting better — and, this past year, I was Jasmine in Aladdin."
Bird, an 18-year-old senior at Moffat County High School, was referring to her part in fall's high school play. She said she has a passion for all kinds of arts. She's the head of the Student Council activities committee, and she's helped coordinate the high school talent show for the past four years, coaxing reluctantly talented students into performance and working to provide a venue for the not-so-reluctantly talented, as well.
This year's talent show, held Jan. 20, featured an eclectic assortment of acts, from music to comedy, with about a dozen performers. Sambu Shrestha, a 14-year-old freshman, took first place with a magic show.
Bird and Shrestha took some time at school recently to talk about their work on the show.
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"I started off with simple tricks, and then I escalated up to more intense tricks," Shrestha said.
His final trick was called "The Devil's Ashes."
"The judge would pick a card, then I would have them write it down on a piece of paper," he said. "And then, when I burned the paper, I took all the ashes and rubbed them on my wrist, and the card was printed on my wrist."
The mechanism behind that dazzler is something Shrestha would not divulge.
"It's a secret," he said. "I can't quite give that one away."
But he did describe the sorts of skills and techniques that slip into the tricks he does. He mentioned, sleight of hand and described how he can coax someone to look in another direction as he performs a trick.
"There's this thing called 'misdirection,'" he said. "You could say, 'What's going to happen over here,' but really, you could be here (in another direction) doing something completely different to set the trick up."
Shrestha said it's important to build trust with the audience, though he said some people might take pride in their critical eyes and try to spot the misdirection. But for the most part, he said, the audience is on board, willing to fall under the magic spell.
"They want it to work," he said.
Bird said interest in the talent show has grown throughout the years she's worked on it, adding she was pleased with all the acts. She noted Micheal Hough's guitar playing.
"When he first auditioned for me, I thought he was going to shriek out some chords, and that would be it," she said. "He was uber-talented."
Bird said Hough had a knack for improvising.
"Amazing," added Shrestha.
Hough ended up finishing second in the judging — performed by high school staff members — with Wes Atkin, a senior, coming in third.
Bird highlighted Atkin's creativity, as well, noting a catchy rhythm as he played his own compositions on the guitar.
The variety of acts encompassed by the show was no accident.
"We've progressed over the years, trying to make sure everyone felt included," Bird said, noting that "try anything" has become a salient piece of advice for prospective performers. Last year Bird worked with her advisor on a skit that involved seeing how many peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches could be made in a minute.
It's the kind of exercise, she explained, designed to nudge people who might be a little uncertain of themselves onto the stage.