This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending my fifth Miss New York pageant, to have the honor of seeing who will represent our Empire State this year in Atlantic City at the Miss America 2016 pageant. This year, Twenty-Nine girls came to Staten Island to show “Hollywood Glamour” at the historic St. George Theater, represent their regions, and vie for this prestigious title.
Each contestant was split into two groups- Blue or Gold- and had the opportunity to compete during the preliminary competitions on Thursday and Friday. Each girl did wonderfully, and represented her home region well. Although I had my favorites coming into the competition, I was very impressed with some of the girls I had not seen perform before, and my predictions shifted heavily throughout the weekend.
We were lucky enough to have two Miss Americas share the stage, as Nina Davuluri (Miss Syracuse 2013, Miss America 2014) served as the Mistress of Ceremonies and Kira Kazantsev, (Miss City of New York 2014, Miss America 2015) assisted with crowning. Plus, Alisa Vasquez, Miss New York’s Outstanding Teen 2015, attended as well. She performed a beautiful vocal piece, and danced with the lovely Star Princesses.
But we were there to see who would be crowned Miss New York 2015, and the audience sat at the edge of their seats watching.
Top 10 Prediction:
After watching both nights of the preliminary competition, plus following the ladies throughout the year, I attended finals with my (very uncertain) Top 10 Predictions. They were nothing like the Top 10 I had before the first night of Prelims. The girls were so strong and it was very difficult to choose.
Please note: All opinions are my own based solely on my own idea of what scores well, what I felt the judges were looking for, and who I thought really shined on stage. Just because I did not think a girl would make Top 10 does not, in any way, mean I think she did not belong there. I am not a judge, and my opinion is simply that of a former contestant, volunteer, blogger, and audience member. Top 10 Prediction is in no specific order.
- Desiree Wiley, Buffalo
- Katelynn Smith, Central New York
- Jamie Lynn Macchia, Greater New York
- Mackenzie Perpich, Cosmpolitan
- Allison Carlos, Thousand Islands
- Anneliese Trust, Syracuse
- Kyanna Lewis, Flower City
- Cassie Paradise, Southern Tier
- Willa Hahn, Erie Canal
- Baylee Simpson, Fulton County
Opening Number was a very cute, well choreographed dance routine to “Turn Up the Music” by Chris Brown. The ladies wore teal Sherri Hill cocktail dresses.
The girls returned to the stage for the announcement of People’s Choice. For the past few weeks, each girl was encouraged to promote the People’s Choice section of the competition and solicit votes. Each vote cost $1, and you cold vote unlimited. The voting proceeds would go to Miss NY expenses and scholarship, and the girl with the most votes would secure her place in the Top 11. The selected girl may have also made Top 10 based on points.
People’s Choice: Miss Southern Tier, Cassie Paradise
Remaining 10 Finalists:
- Cosmopolitan, Mackenzie Perpich
- Greater NY, Jamie Lynn Macchia
- Empire Star, Marivi Howell-Arza
- Manhattan, Kristen Stillwell
- Central NY, Katelynn Smith
- Heart of NY, Nina Zesky
- Erie Canal, Willa Hahn
- Five Boroughs, Ashley Davis
- Buffalo, Desiree Wiley
- Thousand Islands, Allison Carlos
While the finalists headed backstage to change, Nina announced the judges. She then invited Kira up, and they bantered about their years as Miss America, including being crowned on the very stage. Nina passed the mic off to Kira, who hosted the Lifestyle and Fitness phase of competition.
Lifestyle & Fitness: The production number was very sexy, but thankfully the ladies had very modest cover-up skirts. Dancing in a swimsuit, no matter how fit or comfortable you are in your body, cannot be easy.
The Top 10 each came out from the back, and had to walk down 3 steps. The Lifestyle & Fitness phase is very nerve wracking, so I have stopped giving opinions on individuals (see my Note above- my opinion really means nothing). But I did take some general notes based on all the girls:
- Chinese Laundry Tippy Tops are great for making short girls look taller, but not great for walking down steps. Thankfully, no one tripped. Those shoes are asking for a broken ankle.
- L&F is a very high energy, confidence boosting phase. But sometimes that energy has to be honed in. A few of the girls were so excited to be in Top 10 that they seemed to have lost their poise and training. Arms were swinging like spaghetti, and shoulders began to hunch in poses.
- When the 11 girls came out for the Last Look, they were standing front and center in front of the judges and audience in a bikini. This can’t feel very natural. But almost all (but not all) of the girls were very fidgety, and kept repositioning their poses. It is best to strike a pose, and scan the audience.
- Cassie Paradise, Miss Southern Tier (People’s Choice) performed a jazz dance to “All That Jazz”. She was one of my favorites from Prelims, and still somehow managed to improve and bring more energy into Finals.
- Mackenzie Perpich, Miss Cosmopolitan, sang the Roger and Hammerstein classic “If I Loved You”. During Prelims I could see she had an amazing voice, but felt her stage presence was lacking a full performance. Clearly the judges disagreed, as she won the Prelim Talent award. During finals she improved her facials and arm movements and it was clear why she was in the Top 10.
- Jamie Macchia, Miss Greater NY, performed a self-choreographed lyrical dance to “I Was Here” by Beyonce. She was also a Talent Prelim winner.
- Marivi Howell-Arza, Miss Empire Star, performed Everything is Coming Up Roses from the 1959 Broadway musical Gypsy. Marivi had sang “Don’t Rain on My Parade” during the local season, so it was nice to see a new song. Her voice is very powerful and she has incredible potential, especially considering she is only 17.
- Kristen Stillwell performed a lyrical dance to “Heaven is a Place on Earth”. During preliminaries I wasn’t impressed with the overall performance. It felt like a series of technically good moves, but without smooth transitions and very little facial emotion. Lyrical is all about telling a story. During finals it was like an entirely different performance, with flawless transitions and a full face of emotion.
- Katelynn Smith, Miss Central NY, performed a self choreographed contemporary clogging routine to Proud Mary by Tina Turner. Clogging is very high energy and entertaining, and she kept great eye-contact, and made perfect facial expressions.
- Nina Zesky, Heart of NY, performed an Acro-Jazz routine to Feeling Good. She used a wooden block as a prop, and integrated jazz leaps with tumbling and handstands.
- Willa Hahn, Miss Erie Canal, performed an operatic vocal song from La Boheme. Her performance was perfectly choreographed with facials and hand movements that helped the audience understand the story, even though we don’t understand Italian.
- Ashley Davis, Five Boroughs, performed a lyrical dance to Hiding Under Water by Beth Hart, while using a bench onstage as a prop. I thought this dance was good in preliminaries, but kept waiting for the climax of the song where her dance would really pop. It never came. Also, the bench didn’t seem necessary for the routine, and felt like it was there for aesthetics only.
- Desiree Wiley, Miss Buffalo, performed a jazz dance to Hit Me With a Hot Note From Play On. Desiree is always entertaining and full of energy, but was still able to pump it up for the Finals. Desiree was a Talent Prelim winner.
- Allison Carlos, Thousand Islands, performed a tap dance to La Bom Bom (or La Baum Baum… I cannot find the song on Youtube to know the correct spelling). Tapping is almost always full of energy, and this song was no exception, but I wondered if Allison going after the other dancers unintentionally compared her energy level to theirs. This is not allowed in the scoring process of course, so there is no way to know.
Jillian Tapper, Miss New York 2014, then performed her talent- a twirling routine to Swing Swing Swing. As a world champion twirler, with many twirling awards and recognitions under her belt, Jillian is always entertaining to watch.
Last year, all of the girls (Finalists and Non-Finalists alike) walked during the evening gown phase of competition. This year, all of the girls performed a simple production number arranged by the color of their gowns. Many of the girls had red and blue, but the blue group was sorted into two smaller groups based on tone. It was neat, because each group of colors had a different walking pattern and pivot routine.
The Top 10 returned to model the gown one at a time.
Top 5 Predictions: Please see note above about my predictions
- Desiree, Buffalo
- Katelynn, Central NY
- Jamie, Greater NY
- Cassie, Southern Tier
- Willa, Erie Canal
Miss New York 2015 Top Five:
- Jamie, Greater NY
- Desiree, Buffalo
- Mackenzie, Cosmopolitan
- Nina, Heart of NY
- Kristen, Manhattan
On-Stage Question: All answers are simplified and paraphrased, and may not give an accurate depiction of the delivery or content of the answer.
- Jamie, Greater NY:
Q: What do you think is the greatest environmental issue today?
A: Natural events based on what we put in the environment.
- Desiree, Buffalo:
Q: How do you handle stressful situations?
A: Always look on the bright side and pray a lot.
- Mackenzie, Cosmopolitan:
Q: What bothers you the most about what’s happening in the country today?
-Lack of volunteering
- Nina, Heart of NY:
Q: Have you ever had to bend the rules to achieve a goal?
A: No, daughter of two police officers.
- Kristen, Manhattan:
Q: What is your philosophy dearest to your life?
A: There’s no reason to say no to someone in need
I felt that Mackenzie had the strongest answer, because she was able to tie the answer back into her platform. Nina got a good laugh with her initial response, but pulled it together well. Desiree’s answer was great, but the woman of faith statement almost felt like an afterthought. Jamie and Kristen both had good content, but had a few seconds of rambling.
Awards and Crowning
- Community Service Award, $500, based on platform: Ashley Davis, Five Boroughs
- Ken Berry Spirit Award: Marivi, Empire Star
- Salt City Scholar Award: Nina, Heart of NY
- CMN Miracle Maker, raised $2577: Jamie, Greater NY
- NF Talent, $250: Meghan Sinisi, Liberty- Twirling
- NF Interview, $200: Kyanna Lewis, Flower City
- Overall Interview Award, $500: Mackenzie, Cosmopolitan
- Academic Award, $1000: Jamie, Greater NY
- MAO Community Service, $1000: Meghan Cahill, Altamont Fair
- Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award: Dominique Bianco, Miss Staten Islands OT.
4th Runner Up: Mackenzie Perpich, Miss Cosmopolitan
3rd Runner Up: Kristen Stillwell, Miss Manhattan
2nd Runner Up: Nina Zesky, Miss Heart of NY
1st Runner Up: Desiree Wiley, Miss Buffalo
Miss New York 2015: Jamie Lynn Macchia, Miss Greater NY
Crowning Video, courtesy of the Staten Island Advance