by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
Fanaka Ndege, showing no problems transitioning to a solo act, danced and rapped his way to top honors at the ERHS’s Starfest 2012 talent contest Wednesday evening.
Last year, Ndege and two pals, Dupre Robinson and Josh Walbot, won the county fair and state fair talent contests as a rap/dance/comedy trio called Sher-Bounce Crew that’s frequently asked to entertain at school. Ndege and Robinson were also runners-up at Starfest 2011 as a duo.
Going it alone — his cohorts sat this one out because they were the MC’s — Ndege captivated and energized the audience as he rapped a pep-fest-like ditty about Elk River, break-danced with reckless grace and added a new twist, twirling nunchucks in the third phase of his act.
“That was a last-minute plan. I was going to be with the ‘crew’ but they decided the wanted to be MC’s,” said Ndege about the solo act. “It was a different experience, and my legs wobbled a little bit before I went on, but the music just takes me away and I forget about everything else. I’m glad the audience liked it.”
Ndege, who also puts his athletic gifts to use in track-and-field for the Elks and martial arts (10 years in tae kwon do), added the nunchucks for the first time, twirling them like batons. It was easy to see he’s accustomed to them.
Ndege, a junior, is a good student with plans to be in business or a pediatrician, but loves the stage, too. “Entertainment really caught my eye as a young child and it’s something I want to do when I’m older, on the side, perhaps.”
Second place went to juniors Grace Heyne and Megan Perry, with Heyne singing the Michael Bublé song, “Feeling Good,” and Perry on guitar. “We’re good friends and Megan likes to play guitar and I play piano, too, so we plan to do some more music things together,” said Heyne.
Placing third were the dance duo of Nicole Grubba and Cassie Reimann, making some complex moves look easy, to the song “Addicted to Love.”
Heyne and Perry also got the people’s choice award voted by texting.
Twelve acts survived the auditions and had a chance to entertain.
The others were Nick Griffiths and Carly Hagstrom performing “Lean on Me,” Summer Weber and Keirsten Peterson performing “Breakaway,” Kirsten Rokke on piano and singing “1,000 Years” while Emily Kirscht danced ballet style, Melea Bertch and Kianna Roogh performing “Safe Sound,” the group Void in Reality singing an original song, “Scraping By,” the group Intrepid singing “Mr. Brightside,” Megan Schiltz performing “Keep Holding On,” Chandra Walbot singing “How to Save a Life,” Sam Larom and Zach Alery performing “Right Girl,” and Kelsey Rausch and Jordon Peterson performing “The Call.”