Saturday marked the first pageant of the Miss New York Class of 2015. The roll call dropped to 8 girls, vying for the crown and the chance to compete at Miss New York next May. This year, the contestants were celebrating diversity in honor of the reigning Miss America, Nina Davuluri, who hosted last year’s pageant and assisted with the crowning.
The girls were welcomed to the stage for the opening number dance wearing white bottoms and a colorful top (except for Libby and Colleen, who wore the reverse). They performed a fun Bollywood dance, based on moves Nina herself taught on Good Morning America.
After the girls introduced themselves, we were introduced to the outgoing queens. Then Payton, Miss Syracuse’s Outstanding Pre-teen, performed a tap dance to an interesting mix of swing and hip hop music.
Colleen modeled her activewear, in black legging capris and a tank top.
Next, the Miss ladies were welcomed back to the stage for the Lifestyle and Fitness part of the competition. This was done to the hit song Gangum Style by Psy. No, none of the contestants broke out in dance- unfortunately.
Standouts: Katelynn was strongest, in a red suit with gold accents. Michaela wore an amazing bright pink monokini.; very unique, and wore it well. Tara’s suit was an incredibly bright blue that really made her eyes pop, and showed personality.
The judges were then introduced. The panel included an Irish Step dancer, former titleholder, local musician, and community members.
The Talent portion is always the most exciting portion on stage, as the girls have the longest time to impress us.
First, the Teens performed. Libby signed to Mercy Me’s Imagine, and then Colleen performed a jazz dance to Naughty Boy’s La La La.
Courtney warmed the stage for the Miss contestants, as she performed the Irish Step dance she had performed at Miss New York. The Miss contestants returned one at a time to perform.
Kelsey, having previously drawn on stage, changed it up. This year, she used a glue paint on a black board to leave the judges and audience in wonder as she brushed away in what appeared to be randomocity. It wasn’t until the final seconds of the song that she threw glitter at the canvas, revealing the Statue of Liberty.
Katelynn performed a contemporary clogging routine to Tine Turner’s Rolling on a River.
Michaela had a great introduction with a Dumbledore quote. She played Hedwig’s Theme on the flute, and really pulled me into the movie. I wish she would lose the sheet music; the stand hides her face, keeps her locked in one position, and may result in her losing technical points.
Neetu played Whitewater Chopsticks on the piano, except it was actually a weighted keyboard. I have mixed feelings on this, as the technical value was clearly there- this girl is amazing. She had great energy, her fingers were like lightning, and she kept the audience engaged. However, we could hear her fingers hitting the keys, and the keyboard itself would rock with her strong taps. Rumor has it, OCC has a piano and would not allow her to play.
Dannah performed a parkour acrobatics routine, possibly for the first time in Miss America local history. She rented a foam block and used a carpet from the hall. She mixed her own version of Space Jam, and integrated a basketball to fit the theme. She even made her own customized tank top! I would like to see a slight more dance aspect rather than hip hop next time, but undoubtedly the judges and audience were impressed.
Tara performed a traditional hard shoe Irish Step dance routine, in a black outfit with green sash. She has a great smile that radiates the stage, and I liked the use of her hands at some points- typically the dancer’s arms stay straight.
Lauren M changed her classical ballet talent last minute. She had planned to perform en pointe, but decided to switch to a soft shoe because of the stage. She wore a patriotic leotard, and leaped graciously across the stage. A talented ballerina, she showed minimal emotion throughout the performance.
Lauren C, the only vocalist, performed a stunning rendition of They Just Keep Moving the Line from Smash. A few seconds into the song, a light bulb from the stage lights burst and fell from the ceiling. Lauren didn’t even flinch as she sang about her determination to succeed despite personal hardships.
The Hostestess announced a 15 minute intermission. When they returned, the hostesses introduced themselves: Sarah Hreyo, Miss Empire Star and Bianca Lupi, Miss Syracuse International. Two girls from the Empire State Dance Center performed a jazz duet, to pull the audience’s attention back to the stage. The hostesses also announced that #MissCNY was the promoted hashtag, but @PageantFile had been using #MissCNY2015 on Twitter.
Colleen stepped onto the stage in evening gown for the first time. She wore a simple, black jersey gown with straps that wrapped around her shoulders.
The Miss girls followed suit– er, gown.
Standouts: Dannah’s gown was red hot and her lips matched. Lauren’s violet gown had a full side panel of large silver sequins.
Once the hostesses thanked some sponsors, the girls were welcomed back one at a time for onstage question. Each question was submitted by former local or state titleholders.
Colleen was asked why we are so hard on ourselves. She explained that it is the pressures of the community and we need to be more accepting of ourselves.
Kelsey was asked by Claire Buffie, Miss New York 2011, Huffington Post recently released a Top Ten search result with headline news events, but also the release of 50 Shades of Grey- Why does this book get so much attention? Kelsey explained that it is racy, and gets people excited.
Katelynn was asked by Acacia Courtney, Miss Connecticut 2014, what we can do to combat obesity. she said we need to come together the government, parents, and individuals.
Michaela was asked by Kristina Blackford, former Miss Thousand Islands, if she thinks a college degree is worth the debt. She suggested we decrease tuition, and make loan repayments proportionate salary.
Neetu was asked by Allison Carlos, former Miss Thousand Islands, about a recent case on Long Island where a parent was charged with excessive force for spanking his child. Neetu said that child abuse should be avoided, and effects a child mentally.
Dannah was asked what can be done to prevent abuse. (Unfortunately there was a lot of talking and I not only missed her answer, but missed the titleholder who asked the question, even after the hostess repeated it.)
Tara was asked by Amy Valenti, former Miss Finger Lakes, if student loan forgiveness for 25% of state employees is fair. Tara said that this could be adjusted to help graduates in more job markets.
Lauren M. was asked by Corrine Francis, former Miss Thousand Islands, about the use of bindis, traditional religious marking, by celebrities. Lauren said it is disrespectful, but is the artist’s choice to express themselves.
Lauren C. was asked by Elizabeth Cavanaugh, former Miss New York, about the recent Hobby Lobby ruling allowing a company to restrict employees access to contraception. She said it is absolutely not fair for them to try and control this.
As the pageant wrapped up, I tried to wrap my mind around the winner. Katelynn was the consensus to win, but honestly I did not think she was on her game. I watched her compete at Miss New York just a few weeks ago, and brought it twice as strong. I was most impressed with Lauren C. and Dannah, and put them at the top of my Faves, with Katelynn coming in 3rd, followed by Lauren M. Having seen Michaela compete at the Empire pageant, I can see much growth from her in all categories. I can easily see at least half of these girls earning titles during this season.
As the auditors tabulated the score, a wide variety of baskets were raffled off. The Miss Mohawk Valley director won three of them! It is very encouraging to see a local director contribute to other locals. A video montage of the 2014 titleholders’ reigns played to Katy Perry’s Firework. Libby played a prerecorded farewell speech thanking those who helped her along the way. Courtney did not re-record, and instead thanked her parents, boyfriend, and many others right from stage. She had her mom stand as she thanked her for being pageant mom of the year (Maxine is actually pageant mom of, forever), and her dad surprised her on stage with a gift. It was beautifully done.
The girls returned to the stage for the last time.
Libby then crowned Colleen as Miss Central New York’s Outstanding Teen.
A last moment of anticipation before announcing the Mis awards, the hostesses asked all current and former titleholders to stand, as well as directors and NY State Board of Directors to stand.
Then came the awards!
Advertisement Award (10% of the total money raised from program book ads- $61): Dannah
People’s Choice (50% of the total money raised from both online voting and night of voting- $63): Dannah
Community Service ($100.55): Kelsey
Miss Congeniality: Colleen
4th Runner Up: The ladies decided to take the prize money from the 4th runner up, as well as the non-finalist awards, and split the total among all the non-finalists, instead of awarding to individuals.
3rd Runner Up-$70: Dannah Laguitan
2nd Runner Up-$100: Lauren Crandall
1st Runner Up-$150: Lauren Molella
Miss Central New York 2015: Katelynn Smith
Great job ladies! Last year, each contestant who made Top Five at Miss CNY went on to win their own local titles. Hopefully this year will be no different. Congratulations, Katelynn and Colleen- have a great year!