ERHS dance trio wins state fair talent contest

Josh Walbot, Fanaka Ndege and Dupre Robinson are shown here while winning the Sherburne County Fair open division in July. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

by Bruce Strand, Arts editor

A trio of Elk River High School dancers who met through the Multicultural Club won a talent contest  at the Minnesota State Fair last week.

The “Sher-Bounce Crew” consisting of senior Josh Walbot, junior Fanaka Ndege, and sophomore Dupre Robinson performed three times in the County Fair Talent Contest at the state fairgrounds, a berth earned by winning at the Sherburne County Fair in July.

The boys had a nice gallery to root for them.

“Our families were there, and I was surprised to see a lot of Elk River support  at the grandstand,” said Ndege “We even saw a few teachers.”

Fanaka, Dupre and Josh clowned for a photo while watching the other state fair acts. (Photo by Chandra Walbot)

Captivating audiences with a peppy four-minute act of  solo break-dancing, synchronized duets, playful fight scenes, leaps and an occasional back flip, spiced with Ndege rapping optimistic verses about “going after your dreams,” the “Sher-Bounce Crew” sailed through the prelims and semifinals at the Family Fair Stage in Baldwin Park.

That put them in the grand finals at the main Grandstand on Saturday evening where they got first place over a field of mostly musical acts.

Even though they’re eligible for the Teen division, the trio entered the open division at the county fair level.

The trio met last fall when the Multicultural Club, whose many activities include cultural dancing, were practicing for a dance before a Pep Fest.

“It’s kind of a long story how we all wound up in the same city being from different backgrounds,” said Ndege. “We were talking about that backstage at the fair. Dupre came from California, Josh came over from Anoka and I’m from Minneapolis.”

Ndege and Robinson performed as a duet in May at the high school’s talent contest and placed second. With Walbot added they won at the county and state fairs.

“We’ll be doing pep fests in the fall and winter,” said Ndege, who’s also a track and cross country team member, “and we hope some more opportunities will open up, too.”

The group won a total of $375 at the state fair.

The other champions were Josie Nelson (vocal, guitar) of Norman County in the Pre-teen division, and Angela Steele (song, dance) of Isanti County in the Teen division.