Dixie’s Got Talent 2019 Finale awards winners in a category that doesn’t often take the prize

L-R: Adult category runner-up Jenna Gardner, adult category winner Jaidyn Harris, youth category runner-up Presslee Hepler, and youth category winner Teancum Ah Quin pose for a photo at the end of the Dixie's Got Talent competition held at the DSU M.K. Cox Performing Arts Center, St. George, Utah, Jan. 17, 2019 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A field of 20 contestants wowed a sold-out crowd and a panel of prestigious judges Thursday night at the Dixie’s Got Talent 2019 Finale held in the M.K. Cox Performing Arts Center on the Dixie State University Campus. However, in a contest that has been dominated for the past several years by singers and instrumentalists, this year’s show saw dancers rise to the top in both the youth and adult categories.

Opening act of Dixie’s Got Talent held at the DSU M.K. Cox Performing Arts Center, St. George, Utah, Jan. 17, 2019 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Hosted by the Dixie State University Alumni Association and raising funds to provide needs-based scholarships for university students, the finale of the multiround competition featured the best of the best performing artists in Southern Utah.

Performers showcased a wide range of talents, from singing and instrumental performances to dancing and even one stand-up comedy routine. It was a night that could have been any performer’s to win, said Del Beatty, Dixie State University Dean of Students and the show’s producer/director.

“There were honestly several people who could have been winners tonight,” Beatty said.

The competition was divided into two groups – youth (17 and under) and adult (18 and over) – with 10 contestants in each category vying for bragging rights, cash prizes and a special trip.

A runner-up from each category was awarded $250, and a winner from each category was awarded $500 and the opportunity to have their travel paid to audition for the NBC network’s “America’s Got Talent” reality television talent competition.

L-R: Masters of ceremony McKenzie Turley and Crew Turley and all 20 finalists stand on stage before final voting during the Dixie’s Got Talent competition held at the DSU M.K. Cox Performing Arts Center, St. George, Utah, Jan. 17, 2019 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Runners-up and winners were determined by both a panel of judges and the audience, with each group accounting for 50 percent of the contestants’ scores.

“We had a star-studded panel of judges that really know and understand the entertainment industry,” Beatty said.

Audience members were each able to vote for one youth contestant and one adult contestant using a call-in voting system.

Taking the runner-up spot in the youth category was Presslee Heppler, who delighted the crowd with a powerful rendition of “This is Me” from the popular movie musical “The Greatest Showman.”

The adult runner-up, Jenna Gardner, also impressed with her unique and beautiful vocal rendition of “Mad World,” a song originally by the 1980s band Tears for Fears, but which has been remade several times since.

But this year’s finale belonged to the dancers, with hip-hop dancer Teancum Ah Quin winning the youth category and lyrical dancer Jaidyn Kae Harris winning the adult category.

Both winners were stunned that they had earned the top spots of the night.

“Dancers never win,” Harris said, adding that there is nothing she loves more than dancing.

Harris said she was very nervous going into the competition, but after a strong rehearsal she came into the finale planning to just have fun and do what she loves on stage.

Ah Quin channeled pop star Michael Jackson for his winning performance, a dance that featured Jackson’s smooth and signature style – even including a nod to the famous moonwalk – but also showed off Ah Quin’s skill as a hip-hop dancer.

“Tonight was incredible,” Ah Quin said. “I will absolutely remember this moment.”

Ah Quin praised his fellow competitors and the incredible talent that was on display and said that it was unbelievable that he won.

Thursday was the competition’s ninth year of raising funds that are used to provide needs-based scholarships for students who otherwise might not be able to attend university.

Over the course of the nine years, Beatty said the competition has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the scholarship program.

“The nice thing (about the competition) is that we are able to benefit people’s lives,” Beatty said.

The Dixie’s Got Talent 2018 Finale winners, McKenzie Turley (adult winner) and her son Crew Turley (youth winner), hosted the evening and performed.

Email: hollie@canyonmedia.net

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

 

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