Students Find Belonging Center Stage at Yale Schwarzman Center

Tola Gbadamosi, YSPH ’24

Joshua Gao '26,  Photo: Kate Estevez ’27/Yale College Arts

For some, center stage with its harsh lights and astute audiences is the last place one might think to find a sense of community and belonging, but for the talented Yale students at The Underground on February 8th center stage becomes home. 

The Sweet Spot series at Yale Schwarzman Center spotlights the diverse talents of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, offering them a platform to express themselves before a warm audience of their peers. From soulful vocal renditions to comedic routines, the vibrant tapestry of student talent binds the Yale community together in a room alight with applause and laughter.

I was blown away...
Christine Chang, GSAS ’29

The theme of the Febaruary 8 installment of The Sweet Spot was open mic. The performance that opened the night and took the audience by pleasant surprise was a novel whistle rendition of Springing into Summer, performed by Akiko Uemura,’24MA. As the curtains rose and the evening unfolded, the audience was met with an unexpected delight that lingered long after the final notes had faded away. Akiko’s rendition through the art of whistling was nothing short of captivating. In a performance that defied convention, she breathed new life into the familiar melody, transforming it into a playful dance of notes that seemed to skip effortlessly through the air. Her voice crisp and warm in tone, was akin to a morning dove welcoming the sunrise. With each trill and flourish, Akiko wove a tapestry of sound that held the audience. “I was blown away, her breath control was crazy,” commented Christine Chang, ’29MA. Indeed, Akiko Uemura's novel interpretation of Springing into Summer served as a reminder that art knows no bounds within the Yale community, and that beautiful moments often lie in unexpected surprises.

...peak comedy in my opinion...
Kamali Clora YSPH '24

Among the stand-up comedians was Zoe Larkin ’24, an undergrad whose wry self-deprecating humor cut through thick exteriors and drew out deep appreciative laughter from her peers. Featuring elements of sarcasm, uplifting speech, and an exploration of queer identity, the performance felt like a casual weekend conversation with a good friend. In that same sense “there’s something so quirky and relatable about a comedian that isn’t afraid to roast themselves, peak comedy in my opinion,” commented Kamali Clora '24MS Yale School of Public Health.

Live musical performances were also a prominent category of the night. Audience members were treated to genres from Christian Rock to original written pieces, each act adding something special to the collective experience. “I really enjoyed the performances, I’d say the night grew better with each one,” one student who wished to remain anonymous commented.

Among the live musical show casings was Nydia del Carmen ’26, an undergrad with prior experience performing at Sweet Spot. Word is out about this talented musician, and the audience welcomed her to the stage with uproarious applause. Voices hushed in anticipation of Nydia’s rendition of the Spanish song Prometo by Pablo Alboran. The song, whose title translates to “I Promise,” is characterized by emotional gravity in melody and prose as the singer expresses promises of love, loyalty, and commitment to a significant other. Nydia did not disappoint as she poured her spirit into the lyrics and “her voice flowed out across the room like melted butter,” commented Trevor Brokowski ’29MS, on his first Sweet Spot experience in his first year here at Yale. Audience members like Trevor left the venue with a deeper sense of appreciation as he noted enthusiastically that he would be attending more events here at the Yale Schwarzman Center.

I really enjoyed the performances, I’d say the night grew better with each one.
Anonymous Student

After a night of laughter, heartfelt melodies, and shared moments, the Yale Schwarzman Center provided students with more than just entertainment; it became a sanctuary where spirits were lifted, and friendships blossomed. As the echoes of applause faded into the night, attendees left with a renewed sense of connection and belonging. Through the magic of music and camaraderie, the Sweet Spot Open Mic Night series proved that amidst the rigors of academic life, there exists a haven where students can recharge their spirits, form genuine bonds, and leave with uplifted hearts, poised to take on the challenges that lay ahead.