Young artists take big prizes

Sacha Lin

Three students were named YoungArts Scholarship winners for 2014 for their submissions in visual or performing arts.

Claire Nordstrom ’15 won merit in voice, Amita Pentakota ’14 won honorable mention in world dance and Xenia Viragh ’15 won honorable mention in photography.

YoungArts provides scholarships and workshops with master artists.

All three winners have been invited to participate in the Los Angeles Regional Program, where there will be workshops, showcases, and exhibitions.

Viragh prepared five portraits and a photo story told through five other images for her submission.

The photo story portrays a Sri Lankan festival Viragh attended during the summer.

“We were driving from one destination to the next, and then we stopped at a temple to see what it was like,” Viragh said. “It turned out it was the night of this crazy festival. They were washing elephants in the lake, and there were people running around and performing. It was very, very magical.”

The portraits, which were taken in Bangkok, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, have a warm and intimate nature, Viragh said.

“It was really cool living abroad, having such a unique lifestyle in Asia and just being exposed to very different things and wanting to capture that and remember it,” Viragh said.

Kevin O’Malley and a friend in the photography business helped Viragh decide which photos to submit.

“I didn’t want to just submit random photographs that didn’t correlate, so I spent a lot of time looking through my images and choosing ones I could fit together,” Viragh said.

Nordstrom sang the Eva Cassidy rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” “Stuck Like Glue” by Sugarland, “Your Song” by Elton John, “Lovesong” by The Cure and “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan.

“I chose these songs because they are a collection of varying styles,” Nordstrom said.

Nordstrom said she has always known that she wanted to be a musician. Last year, she released a song on iTunes called “Yet…”

She also applied to YoungArts last year and won honorable mention in the same category.

Pentakota had to submit two pieces to apply for the World Dance category: one of technique and the other a choreographed solo piece.

She performs Bharata Natyam in her video submissions, a traditional dance form that tells a story through the use of facial expressions and movement.

She has been learning Indian classical dance since she was 4 years old. She regularly attends dance classes with her teacher Viji Prakash, who encouraged her to submit to YoungArts.

“Dance is a really big part of my life and my main extracurricular. It’s something that I do when I’m worried,” Pentakota said. “It’s kind of like breathing for me. I thought that this would be a really good way for me to show how much I love dance, so I decided to submit to YoungArts.”