2022 Orange County High School Entertainer of the Year Winners Announced – Orange County Register
There’s no such thing as a live performance or presentation.
With the easing of pandemic-related mandates, this year’s Artist of the Year nominees have regained the opportunity to showcase their creativity in front of a jury rather than through virtual judging, as in the past two years.
And what a welcome experience it was for the young artists — 105 semi-finalists from Orange County high schools — and for the seasoned artists who critiqued them. Judges were chosen from among local professional artists and instructors who specialize in the seven creative disciplines for Artist of the Year.
When one of the dancers asked the judges if she should cut her original choreography at minute 1, leaving 25 seconds more, they replied as if Nike had whispered in their ear, “Just do it.”
Boy, she, dancing her way to Entertainer of the Year.
But the final selections came after much discussion after all the presentations. In more than one case, the judges wished they could choose more than Artist of the Year.
“It’s so inspiring to see the next generation and how they look at their art,” said Boroka Nagy, artistic director of Re:borN Dance Interactive, a contemporary dance company and artist collective in Santa Ana.
This is the ninth year that the Orange County Register has honored youthful creativity in dance, film/animation, theater, instrumental music, vocal music, computer visual arts and handcrafted visual arts.
The seven artists of the year were selected from 22 specialties. The judges also named the finalists in each specialty.
It’s a months-long process that involved hundreds of nominations from high school art teachers, private instructors, and representatives of organizations and programs that train aspiring artists.
The initial talent pool, 646 juniors and seniors, was announced in March. Finalists attend 15 different public or private schools in Orange County.
Each contestant was invited to write and talk about what they think it means to be an “artist” and their own journey to becoming an artist. They talked about their work, the turning points in their development and their goals for the future.
When it came to choosing Artists of the Year, the judges looked beyond an individual’s level of technical skill, depth of talent, or ability to perform class work.
They also considered potential and impact.
The judges wanted to see how the students use the training they have received in their chosen discipline, regardless of the length of their training – for some since early childhood, for others only since the start of secondary school. What do they do outside of school, the studio or the practice room?
An artist of the year is someone who can demonstrate how their art touches and engages the community around them. And not just for what it looks like on a college application. In the age of online “influencers”, how do they influence audiences in real life?
Some students have formed non-profit organizations or foundations to expand opportunities and exposure to the arts to those less privileged. They volunteered to perform at nursing homes, hospitals and assisted living centers. They serve as tutors and instructors to young children.
A few are already earning a bit of money by putting their talent to work.
This program is in its third year of sponsorship by the Chapman University College of Performing Arts. Chapman committed $25,000 per year for general operating expenses.
Additionally, the Laguna College of Art and Design is offering $250 to each of the top seven students and will also provide a $2,500 scholarship to any finalist in the Visual Arts or Animation majors who plans to attend LCAD.
“I feel really excited for these kids,” said Victor Payan, founder and director of Media Arts Santa Ana, or MASA, and co-founder of multicultural film festival OC Film Fiesta.
“This is not the world we walked in 30 years ago.”
Payan may have been talking about the world of film and animation, but his words echoed similar sentiments from judges from other disciplines.
All the artists of the year seem ready to leave their mark.