Child dance prodigy Nhikzy Calma and singer Cristiani Rebada proclaimed big winners
After boasting the largest pool of grand finalists, Team Philippines won the top prizes at the highly coveted 21st World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA).
Held at the Terrace Theatre in Long Beach, California from July 1-9, the talented performers of Team Philippines 205 medals, the most of all 60 countries represented at the “Olympics of performing arts.”
Aspiring stars in entertainment compete for prestigious titles and $400,000 worth of scholarships. WCOPA gives aspiring entertainers around the world the unique opportunity to showcase their talents in front of talent scouts and industry leaders in a high-energy week-long event.
Team Philippines boasted 11 finalists — the most of all represented countries —coming into the final night of performances on Friday, June 7. Stakes were high as the contestants were only allotted 60 seconds each to leave a lasting impression on the judges.
Eight-year-old dance prodigy Nhikzy Vheench Calma was a crowd favorite all week, and when he delivered his final performance, he didn’t disappoint. He wowed the audience, as well as his rivals in his category, and impressed the judges with his dance renditions of Michael Jackson songs, including the iconic “moonwalk” from “Billie Jean.”
Nhikzy secured two major wins, Junior Champion for Dance Solo and Grand Champion Performer of the World.
The charming, young “ASAP” star thanked his fans for supporting him and for Team Philippines for trusting him to represent the team in such a big way.
“Gold Medalist, Junior Grand Winner of Dance Division and the JUNIOR GRAND CHAMPION OF THE WORLD OVERALL back to back Grand CHAMPION of World Championship of Performing Arts #WCOPA #Philippines!!!!” Nhikzy wrote in a post on Instagram. “Inaalay ko po etong Tagumpay ko sa inyong lahat mga mahal kong PILIPINO. Salamat po sa inyong lahat sa tiwala at supporta na binigay nyo sakin at sa lahat po ng tumulong at sumuporta po skin para maabot ko po etong napakagandang pangarap.”
Toward the tail-end of the night, singer Cristiani Rebada delivered a powerful vocal performance, impressing the audience and the judges with his vocal range. Rebada secured Team Philippines’ second Grand Champion Performer of the World honor for the second year in a row; last year, the all-male dance troupe Junior New System took home the most prestigious award.
In addition to the major awards won by Nhikzy and Rebada, vocalist Hannah Korin Castillo nabbed the Junior Grand Champion Vocalist of the World award. On the final two days of the competition, Team Philippines also garnered a whopping 205 medals: 58 gold, 99 silver and 48 bronze.
The team also won 22 division plaques and seven industry awards. Delegates from Team Philippines were also rewarded with sought-after scholarships from Indasoul records, Shelly Sondheim, Millennium Dance and New York Film Academy.
The team was once again under the leadership of national director Jerry Mercado, who oversaw the scouting and audition process for Team Philippines. For the second year in a row, he earned this year’s award for Outstanding National Director.
His daughter, Abby Mercado, acts as the executive assistant to the director and expressed pride at seeing how many Filipino artists get the opportunity to showcase their artistry on a world stage.
“It makes me so proud to see Filipino talent being exposed to the world and for all these performers to show the world how talented the Filipino people are and how beautiful they are,” Abby Mercado told the Asian Journal, noting the variety of talent present in this year’s team. “It makes me want to beam with pride that there are so many Filipinos who are given the chance to showcase their talent and to also prove to themselves that they are good at what they do.”
Performers from Team Philippines hail from all over the country, but Davao City boasted the most medalists with 23 total acts winning medals.
WCOPA is held annually in Long Beach and seeks to find the next stars in entertainment of every age in acting, singing, dancing modeling, instrumentals and variety categories. Competitors are given 60 seconds to showcase their talents in front of a panel of celebrity judges from all areas of entertainment.