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Regarding Covid-19, Is Spotlight on Talent still scheduled for 2021?

UPDATE January 1, 2021 Yes, Spotlight on Talent is still scheduled for 2021. Details below!

The deadline for applications was January 28, 2021. The Application Window is now closed for 2021.

Details: Because  the COVID virus is still active in the area, we are indeed going to have to go to our Plan B for the competition.  This means we will NOT have preliminary auditions on Feb. 13, but have a one-day contest on Saturday, March 6, 2021, at the theater at Wesley Chapel High.  The deadline for applications is still Jan. 28, and the application process remains the same.   The week after we receive the applications, we will send out and post a schedule for the performance/competition day.

Here are some important details about how that will go:  everyone will compete within an age category (to be determined after applications are received);  there will still be solo and group categories;  you will need to arrive already dressed and warmed up (no inside rooms available for that);  all will wear masks and remain socially distanced;  you will come, register and be seated with only your immediate family members;  groups will remain together outside until performance time;  you will be called to the stage to perform, then immediately return to sit with family;  awards will be given for each age category (one group representative and one teacher will remain inside the theater to receive awards);  you will then exit the theater and return home;  the judges’ comments will be sent to you by email;  there will be no audience;  the entire event will be professionally filmed as in the past.

We are disappointed as you are that our usual final shows with audiences will not be possible.  We know you understand that everyone’s safety must be the important goal.  The good news is that by using these methods, talented students are still able to prepare a performance, audition in front of a panel of professional judges, receive the helpful input from those judges, be awarded with our usual cash and trophy prizes (the $1,000 Pasco Heritage Scholarship will still be awarded), and have the opportunity to have a video record of their performance and the awards.

What age/grade category or final show will I be in this year?

HACA doesn’t set the age/grade categories until after we have received all the applications and judges’ scores.  This is because we want the age categories to be evenly distributed with about 9 or 10 in each category.  Because applications vary each year, if we set them ahead of time we could have a category with only four contestants and another with 15.  Generally, with a two Act program, the Matinee show at noon will be young students—probably up through middle school.  The evening show at 7 p.m. will be high school students and possible some middle schoolers.  We may have one combined group category, or it may split up between younger and older groups, determined by mean ages.

What will I be judged on?

You will be judged on a total of 50 possible points.  Forty (40) are for talent (how much “raw” talent you have for your age and how we you have developed that talent for your age.  Five (5) are for stage presence (how relaxed and confident you appear on stage and how you connect with the judges/audience based on your age).  Instrumentalists should acknowledge their audience before starting, dancers and singers should have audience eye contact/connection during their performance, and ALL performances should acknowledge their audience and applause afterward.  Five (5) points are for appropriate appearance (this does NOT mean whether the judges think you are pretty or cute, nor is it how elaborate your costume, makeup or props are). This refers to the effort and thought that was put into your performance This refers to the effort and thought that was put into your attire. Does it detract from the performance? Yes, you should wear the same outfit for tryouts that you would wear for a performance in front of hundreds of people. Did you respect that performance enough to “dress up” for it? This would mean a different thing for a pianist than it would for a jazz dance. The preliminary judges sometimes will make suggestions for a change in your performance dress.

Are judges in any way encouraged to select contestants of a certain talent type or a certain studio?

No, not in any way! Trends very from year to year, but we do not influence the judges. Each judging panel is equally divided between talent backgrounds. Also, judging panels are different from year to year.

Why the new scoring maximums starting in 2011 and again in 2019?

The board discussed at length the focus participants should have towards perfecting their act, and we decided to change the maximum number of points in the categories to more reflect our thoughts on their importance.  For 2011 and onward, the maximum points for talent are now 25, stage presence has been reduced to 3 points, and appropriate appearance has lowered to 2 points.  We hope this will help to de-emphasize the implied importance of overly elaborate or expensive make-up, hair, costume, and/or props.  We want to instead focus on the pure talent of the children who participate. In 2019 we had a bumper crop of preliminary competitors, so this revised scoring minimized the risk of multiple acts getting the same score and make it harder to make the finals cut. The producers changed the maximum score to 50 – 40 for Talent, 5 Stage Presence, and 5 Appropriate Appearance.

Why did you change to two shows in 2008? Will it be the same for future years? What about splitting groups so there’s 1 group category in each act?

Primarily we wanted to give more students a chance to be a finalist and shine on the stage. We were having to cut such excellent performances to fit into one evening show. A side benefit is that each of the two shows will be shorter than the long, 4+ hour show. The reason Matinee is at 12:00 on the same day is to avoid having to rent this expensive hall an additional day.

Depending on the number of applications of solos and groups we receive, that will determine whether we continue with the two-show idea.  In 2009 we had enough groups audition to split the group category into younger and older groups.  That way the younger contestants can perform both their solo and group in one show, and then come back to enjoy the second show as an audience member.  We hope to do that again in the future if group finalist numbers merit this.