I completed the Miss New York USA Pre-Pageant Orientation, but my orientation day was not yet done! I had signed up for a walking class through Prepare To Win.
As a first-time contestant, I knew nothing about the pageant walk. I had investigated working with a coach, but given the cost of the coach, the cost of competing in the pageant, and that there were so many first-time contestants, who were not working with a coach, I didn’t think it was a necessity. Although I wasn’t going to work with someone on a regular basis, I felt that I needed some guidance. I was excited to see that the pageant coaching sponsor was hosting a walking class, so I signed up.
I had watched instructional walking videos, but I found it tough to critique myself. I was confident that participating in the group class would be helpful for picking up some tips and familiarizing myself with what would be expected for pageant weekend. Something that I also wanted to get out of the course was walking with a train on my evening gown. I was concerned that when turning around at the end of the runway, the train would wrap around my leg or heel and I’d trip.
The group class was for both Miss and Teen contestants. We started by putting on shoes that we planned to wear when competing in swimsuit for Miss contestants and active wear for Teen contestants. While the Miss contestants wore heels, the Teens were lucky enough to be in tennis shoes. We then lined up and faced the instructor as we began to learn stances and walking patterns.
The stance is called the, “plant pop,” with one foot pointed outward. This is the planted foot. Your other foot will have your toes on the floor and heel popped up. It doesn’t matter which foot is in each position. When in this stance, hands will be on the narrowest part of your waist. You can use both hands or use just one hand.
We were then taught incorporating turns into our walk. This class took place in the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza White Plains-Downtown, so compared to when we will be competing on stage, my shoes kept getting caught on the ballroom’s carpet, making it difficult to turn. Luckily, when I practiced at my apartment with ceramic tile floors following this class, it allowed for easy turning.
After practicing the walk pattern of walking, turning, walking, making it to the end, then turning back around, we were advised to make eye contact with the instructor, as we are supposed to with the judges. At the pageant, after every several contestants competed on stage, that group would pass through the stage, one last time. We practiced this, as well, focusing on walking speed and distance between contestants.
The Miss contestants would wear a sarong with her swimsuit and take it off once she began walking on stage. During the walking class, we were advised to walk and make the gesture of taking off the sarong, or if we had a jacket or another item to tie around our waist, we could practice with that. We were also told do’s and don’ts of taking off the sarong, such as only tying one knot, so the sarong would come off in one pull. If we happened to have trouble untying it, it should be left on, so we wouldn’t be tugging on it and trying to unknot it during our limited time on stage. When the sarong is removed, it should be subtle and not aggressively ripped off, because it will look like we’re flashing the audience. When I had watched videos prior to this class, I noticed that the sarong sometimes touched the ground, the contestant stepped on it, and her foot slipped. I wasn’t concerned about doing something fancy with the sarong, just not falling; so when I practiced leading up to the pageant, I planned to neatly fold it and hold it in one hand. While the walking class instructor did not mention slipping on the sarong, she did say to not drag it on the ground, so we wouldn’t look like Linus from Charlie Brown. This was not required, just a recommendation, but an option would be to loosely hold the sarong behind us, holding an end in each hand, in order to cover our tush when we turn around and exit the stage after competing in swimsuit. I had considered doing this, but since it didn’t need to be this way, I didn’t want to risk looking uncoordinated, and I would have felt more comfortable managing the sarong in one hand.
When we were asked if we had questions on anything that was not discussed, I asked for tips on walking while wearing an evening gown with a train. I was told to turn around by walking in a circle.
We had a bit of time at the end to practice our walks and we received feedback along the way. I felt a bit uneasy as I left the class, but knowing that there were so many first-time contestants, many who did not attend the class, I felt a sense of reassurance that I was ahead of the game.