all of ukhta’s dancing monkeys

Yesterday, the Ukhta State Technical Lyceum hosted its annual contest of English songs. Each class (2-3 classes per grade) was expected to prepare an English-language song and performance that fit the theme: this year, soundtracks from the 90s-00s. Yours truly, both of us, were invited to be on the jury panel for the older grades.

Guys, it was awesome. I didn’t tape or photograph anything from the older grades’ performances, because that felt weird and biased as a judge, but also because I was usually laughing too hard to hold a camera still.

The younger kids were all pretty adorable, although they often strayed outside of the theme on their song choice… most notably, when one group of 6th graders performed that 1987 wonder-song, “Never Gonna Give You Up,” by Rick Astley.

And we also got to see our favorite 1-and-3 clapping phenomenon in the most dramatic presentation of the day, “Wind of Change.” In the same song, we were also treated to personal memories of every middle school slow dance ever.

As for the older kids, I was shocked by how professional everything was. The first group to perform was a section of 10th graders, who had put together a quality video montage to go along with a mashup of soundtrack songs, a Godfather-style plot, and West Side Story-style dance battles.

Another group’s performance featured contemporary dance, another well-produced video montage, and the Spice Girls. Also that colored powder that they use at Color Runs, and since I was in the jury (in the front row), I may or may not have spent the rest of the day trying to blink pink out of my eyes.

Another group did “Mamba No. 5,” and their dance was almost like swing? Fun to watch, although I’ll admit it hurt a little to see the girl who had obviously choreographed the whole thing to fall on an attempted aerial :/

Another group did the song “Alice” and dressed up like all of the characters from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Their costumes were scary accurate.

I could go on. Let it suffice to say that these kids obviously spent way too much time on their performances and loved every minute of it… and also that a lot of them are very talented.

If you want to watch some of the older groups, there are videos here and here.

But wait! There’s more!

Vickie and I also performed.

That’s right. When, three days before the performance, we were asked to put something together, we, like any good dancing monkeys, said “of course!”

And that’s when I began my quest to sound like Idina Menzel. Any illusions I had of that fell flatly on their face halfway through the performance, when the lights went off, the kids started waving their cell phones in the air like they were at a concert, and I cracked up laughing in the middle of my diva note and forgot all the following words (to be fair, they’re not very sensical words. “Like a ship blown from its mooring by a wind off the sea; like a seed dropped by a skybird in a distant wood”… what does that even mean??). And then they fell on their face again when I listened to the recording and saw myself standing on the stage like more of an duck than a Disney princess.

But here’s a little taste. These are about the best 15 seconds of the performance, for your viewing pleasure.

But at least now Vickie and I are armed and ready for our next trip to karaoke! Ukhta get ready.

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