Next in Line, with the Popcorn Soldiers

Cas di Cultura was a hub of activity Sunday evening when the Popcorn organization held its annual Next in Line, talent competition.

I did not know what I was getting myself into, but motivated by the desire to see what young people are interested in, I said yes, to a chair on the judge’s jury!

The show presented EIGHTEEN pieces of 6 or 7 minutes each, in succession, including dance, lots of dance, in groups and solo, singing and comedy. Each act was required to have a message, Dream Big, Think Outside the Box, Dare to Achieve, Listen to Your Heart. The word dream came up a lot….

It was a spectacular evening of ARUBA HAS TALENT, and I am full of admiration to these youngsters who came up with complex concepts, music, choreography, costuming, make up, and video editing, all on their own, on a shoestring budget.

I kept pressing the imaginary Golden Buzzer awarding them all top scores, because for amateurs, they were highly professional.   

Let me start from the end: POPCORN CLUB & DANCERS ARUBA, since 1989, is a not for profit foundation nurturing young artistic talent. It’s an entire ecosystem of performances and events by an extended family of about 100 teenagers and a handful of adults.

Once you become a Popcorn Soldier you embrace the values of the organization, volunteer, train, rehearse, striving for a better future, with a single mindset to improve your skills and get ahead.

Under the Dream, Dare, Do, slogan everything is possible, and best of all, they are self-supporting.

At about 10pm, winners were announced.

Top honors went to a 9-member dance group, both male and female, by the name of Seshaji. They put a Mad Max meets Janet Jackson production on, by the name of Fury Road. That group is blessed by two very strong choreographs/dancers Joel Recappe, who also won the first place solo trophy, and Dijon Inesia, brimming with creative talent, he was also a soloist, opening the show with an interesting teenage angst overview.

And their homemade costumes held up under the pressure of turbo-charged dancing.

The other TEN in my book was a group by the name of Divergent, that works very well as a glitzy Latin Pop & Reggaeton ensemble, blessed by very talented individual stars, among them Steven Mendez, who is tremendous at everything from Salsa to African Tribal dance.

Two classically trained dancers Cristian Bedon and Valeria Guerrero presented a very ambitious program. They morphed from a romantic duet, into a Colombia style salsa, with death-defying spins and throws. I was praying for the performance to end well. These kids are risk takers, and very determined.

I liked the Missy Elliott inspired gangsters of a Different World, though they needed more light to be noticed, and soloist Gabriela Croes, is blessed with great pipes. The robotic Liquid Courage was great fun to watch. They are passionate about dance, and also form part of the Mafia, who presented a full Wild West, bang-bang, saga.

Best of all the kids. A group of very young performers, maybe ten-year-olds, with the irresistibly cute Emmanuel Simon, and his powerful partner Zianne Loepstok, presenting Full of Fiyah; Followed by the adorable Detonators, a bunch of 5-year olds, free-styling as if they were born on stage.     

Latin chicas? Sure, the Dancing Divas filled that niche.

A very impactful performance by Joel Recappe, titled the Look of Freedom, proved that while the Popcorn Soldiers are preoccupied by typical teenage issues, they are also citizens of the world. Joel’s choreography focused on refugees, Syria, Venezuela, is was woven with powerful video footage, to the music of Eminem’s Walk on Water. Well thought-out, deep and poetic.

Freddy Tromp & Crew: Your place in heaven is guaranteed.

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July 09, 2019
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