A talent show for autism research

Jenna Rose and her backup dancers performed at last year's charity show.

Got talent? Quality Services for the Autism Community wants to know. The group is preparing its annual talent show to raise money for autism research.

QSAC, a nonprofit that provides things like parent support groups and preschool, raised $50,000 last year; and this year they are hoping to double that to $100,000.

Midtown resident Nicole Javanna Johnson, 18, participated last year, performing two dances to Beyonce’s “Halo” and “Pretty Wings” by Maxwell.

The dancers told the story of a couple, she said, showing “important stages in their lives.” Johnson participated because her brother was diagnosed with autism at age 5.

“The fact that we could be up there and do our thing and still raise funds … it was really effective,” Johnson said.

Organizer Marissa Goldberg said participants vary from professional actors and singers to regular New Yorkers. Laurie Maitland — a pianist who is autistic — won last year with a “beautiful and moving” performance, Goldberg said.

QSAC is recruiting celebrity judges this month — last year, Martha Wash of “It’s Raining Men” fame sat in as a celebrity judge, and this year she will perform.

Participants first submit a YouTube video with an audition, which will be reviewed by judges. Then judges and online voters choose performers to move forward — each vote donates $1 — and the finale is Nov. 29 at The Midtown Theater.

“We were trying to think of some innovative ways to come up with funds that wasn’t your typical raising money ways,” Goldberg said.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro.


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