By: BEKKA OXLEY
Rows of students filled IU South Bend’s University Grill on Friday, Feb. 21, for Apollo Night, an event jointly organized by IUSB’s Black Student Union (BSU) and Titan Productions.
The event was reminiscent of traditions used in the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. The Apollo Theater had a significant impact on African American history because it welcomed black talent and showcased names like Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five and Bill Cosby.
Today, The Apollo Theater is known for its Amateur Night, the theater’s longest running performance series that features talent competitions. Staying true to the Apollo Theater’s traditions, IUSB’s Apollo Night included its own version of The Tree of Hope, a tree stump performers rubbed for good luck before taking the stage, and a simple set of rules for the audience.
While still allowing respect for all the performers, audience members were able to ‘boo’ the talents they disapproved of after 60 seconds. At that point, Preston Shaw was allowed to comically sweep the performer off the stage.
Masters of Ceremonies and BSU President Jasmine Allen and Titan Productions Staff Member Dakashia Massey began the night by showing a YouTube clip of the Apollo Theater’s history. Throughout the night, audience members were given a chance win gift cards by answering trivia questions about the video.
The first half of the show featured a variety of talents, including Nich Sikorski (DJ SLIPSTR3AM) who performed turntablism by mixing music from DJ AM, Jam Master Jay, and DJ Jazzy Jeff; Andrew and Teresa Berger, the brother-sister duo who performed a tap dance to “Footloose”; Vocalist Sardius Giden who sang Jonathan McReynolds’ “I Love You” while her brother Marcus played on keyboard; and Rapper Aamos Moore.
Shayla Hampton opened the second half singing “Available To You.” After her, e.
“I’m kind of nervous because this is my first time ever doing spoken word in front of people,” Buchanon said.
His performance was greeted with sounds of agreement, approval and applause from the audience.
Adam Cox was next on the stage, singing and playing guitar in a mash-up of One Direction’s “Story of My Life” and Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.” Comedian Jevon Johnson was up next, making the audience laugh at the bit he created himself.
Jesse Camper was the last competing performer to take the stage with a spoken word piece called “Invisible Change”.
“This piece of spoken word is about a new form of slavery we have going on today,” Camper said before he began.
Multiple audience members were in agreement with Camper’s piece, and made their approval known during his performance.
Other students who performed in exhibition were Jazmine Allen, Jerrond Robbins, Brendan Johnson and Cornelius “The Poet” from Ivy Tech.
None of the students who performed at Apollo Night were swept off the stage by Shaw.
At the end of the night, the audience voted for their favorite performers by cheering. The loudest cheers were awarded to Camper, Cox and Buchanan.