Art Rwanda Ubuhanzi, a televised talent competition show kicked off auditions for their 2023 cohort in the country’s four provinces before transitioning the audition process to Kigali, thereafter running from December 7 until December 9. The suggested art expressions for competitors to utilize include acting, comedy, fashion design, singing, dancing, storytelling through filmmaking, poetry as well as digital and plastic art. Every participant needs to impress five of the seven judges to move into the next phase of the competition and the judge’s table wasn’t the most impressionable. The auditions were judged by Junior Rumaga, Alyn Sano, Riderman and others led by Kennedy Mazimpaka, who served as the head judge, making himsimultaneously the hardest to impress and the most important “yego” to receive, a Simon Cowell of sorts if you will. Read Also: Art Rwanda Ubuhanzi 3rd edition launched The contestants presented performances within the suggested art expressions and they was an equal batch of talented and untalented acts, however the judges feedback both groups prompted both groups to work more on refining their craft. Head judge Kennedy Mazimpaka spoke to The New Times about the criteria they’re looking for in long term contestants and what they hope to achieve with the competition in general. “Everyone is born with a talent but not everyone knows how to use it at full potential. With the competition we are looking for people who tap into their creativity and use it to express their talent, because that where true artistry lies. How fast someone can express themselves in the 3-minute audition timeslot obviously matters, but I want them to make an impression. I want to be moved by the performances and feel their authenticity, but that is something that can only be achieved when the contestants are willing to look within and deliver a captivating performance,” Mazimpaka told The New Times on the second day of Kigali auditions. “We also encourage them to be creative in the sense that instead of praising cover performances of other songs we would like to see original songs and performances because that will help the contestants find their artistic style and develop it,” he added. One of the interesting performances at the auditions was what seemed like an improv session where the judges suggested different prompts for the contestant to act out within a matter of seconds. Divine Nikokazeza, the contestant tasked with these different prompts took on the challenge seamlessly and was given the opportunity to progress onto the next phase of the contest but not without some constructive criticism to help her better her craft. Nikokazeza told The New Times that she was excited to be progressing in the competition, and would like to continue acting in the future. “I first discovered I could act at a talent show we had back in primary school and I enjoy transforming into different characters. I am glad that I came to Art Rwanda Ubuhanzi and I hope to inspire other girls and women that are hesitant to show their talent, because it is worth it,” says the 22 year old. One of the most outstanding performances was a poetic ballad delivered by 20-year old Daniel Niyitegeka. He wowed the judges and audience with his eloquent detail oriented performance and was given the go ahead to progress to the next phase of the competition, something that excited him to the bream. “I have been a poet since I was 17 and I always wanted to share what I had done. I am happy that Art Rwanda Ubuhanzi has given me the space to do that, and they thought I was good enough for the next round of competition. My poems are inspired by the people I feel strongly about and sharing that with as many people as I can brings me joy,” Niyitegeka said. Art Rwanda Ubuhanzi is a collaborative project between Imbuto Foundation, European Union and the United Nations Development Fund, aimed at nurturing, developing and supporting emerging talents in the country for the betterment of the creative industry.