Saturday, July 12, 2014

Shavertown native in ‘America’s Got Talent’ semifinals

Jaime Verazin calls herself a risk taker, trying new and different art forms.

July 27. 2013 11:34PM

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A Shavertown native is a member of an innovative shadow transformation dance group that has reached the semifinals on the hit television show “America’s Got Talent.”

Jaime Verazin, 28, daughter of Dr. Gary and Betsy Verazin of Shavertown, is competing with Catapult Entertainment on the show that airs every Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 p.m. on NBC. The judges on the show are Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Mel B and Heidi Klum.

Verazin’s group performs behind a giant 20-foot-by-40-foot screen with a projector that sheds the light as the group creates different images and stories by manipulating their bodies and shadows.

The group has formed the image of a helicopter with a female spy (Verazin) inside the chopper, she said. They also do a cliff face, and Verazin is the female spy that climbs up the cliff to escape.

They also do animals, automobiles and other shapes.

“It’s been really exciting,” Verazin said on a break from rehearsals. “Howard Stern even bowed after our first performance.”

Verazin is a graduate of Bishop O’Reilly High School and attended DeSales University. She was accepted into MOMIX, a modern trans-formative dance company, and toured internationally with it for four and a half years, performing in 13 countries.

She moved back home for a year “to rest,” and then moved to New York City four years ago. She has done freelance dancing, including performances with the Metropolitan Opera Co.

Verazin calls herself a risk taker, trying new and different art forms.

“But being on America’s Got Talent has been really exciting,” she said. “Our group has gotten so much exposure.”

The TV show has allowed the group to be noticed and accepted as dancers and artists. “We’re showing people the world of shadow dancing,” she said.

The group’s director, Adam Battelstein, has taught with Verazin at Arts YOUniverse in Wilkes-Barre.

If the 10-member group wins the $1 million grand prize, said Verazin, it will open many new doors, possibly in places such as Las Vegas.

The group rehearses for hours for each 90-second TV performance, she said.

The large field has been narrowed to 60 acts, and that will be pared to 20 by Aug. 21. The winner will be announced on Sept. 18.

“Now we have to get votes from the public,” she said, noting that the TV judges no longer decide who goes forward. “We need people to watch and vote.”

Verazin’s group will perform this Tuesday, and she urged Northeastern Pennsylvania residents to tune in and vote.

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