The preliminary competition for Miss New York USA had finally begun! I completed my interview with the panel of judges, which was the first phase of the competition.
Relieved that this part of the competition was over, I was then in a room where contestants went following their interview. Being the second contestant to complete her interview, the room was pretty empty and took a long time to fill up. This gave more than enough time for meeting the other contestants. As the room filled, the producer and one of the choreographers came in, and the production meeting started shortly after.
During the meeting, they discussed logistics for the weekend and details for the competition. There was also the opportunity to ask questions. One contestant asked if we should turn or spin while competing. The producer said that if you’re not comfortable with turning, don’t, so you won’t fall. If you choose to turn, you need to before you approach the narrow, runway part of the stage. If you fall off on the narrow part of the stage, no one will be there to catch you. This point was emphasized multiple times this weekend, to ensure that this incident did not happen to anyone.
After this meeting, we went to the ballroom, where we kept our luggage and got comfortable clothes to change into for the rest of the day. Upon changing, we jumped right into the first type of rehearsal, which was practicing our walk with Prepare to Win, the company in which I had my walking class. I felt that taking the class put me at an advantage compared to other first-time contestants, who were just learning the pageant walk. A smaller group of contestants were practicing, since many contestants were still waiting for interviews and in the production meeting.
Rehearsal was then disrupted, as it was time for lunch for both Miss and Teen contestants. The lunch menu was salad, sandwiches, soup, and cookies. Something I noticed through this experience was that with so many people, you easily get split up from people you were sitting with in another room. There could be someone, who I saw at the time of my interview and then I might not see that person again, until I was getting my makeup done for the final competition. There were about 170 Miss contestants and about 100 Teens, so I just took a seat wherever there was room. I didn’t find it to be at all “clicky.” At lunch, I sat with a mixture of Miss and Teen contestants then we made our way back to the ballroom for practicing our walk. Occasionally, a pageant staff member would come in and make an announcement to make sure that everyone who was currently rehearsing, had already completed her interview, as interviews were the priority for the first day.
I was so excited when it was time to go in our hotel rooms, because it meant I would finally meet my roommate. Due to privacy reasons, no one would tell me my roommate’s name. I went to one of the check in tables and gave my name; I was handed a key, told my room number, and was informed that my roommate had already picked up her key. I was nervous and excited as I got in the elevator, not knowing what to expect as I opened the door to my room. I felt like I was walking down the longest hall ever as I approached my room. I saw some contestants entering other rooms, which were not mine. As I walked a bit further, I saw one contestant standing by one room about to enter. Before I could see the room number, I called down the hall to ask for her room number, and it was mine! We had just a few minutes in our room to drop off our bags then go back downstairs for rehearsals.
Back in the ballroom, it was time for the second type of rehearsal, the opening number dance! We broke down into our four groups of easy, medium, hard, and elite. I’m certainly happy that I constantly practiced the dance and confidently knew it, because many other contestants also seemed well-rehearsed. I effortlessly kept up with the choreographers. After running through the dance several times, it was time to take a dancing break and go to dinner. The dinner menu was chicken, soup (the chicken noodle and chicken rice were amazing!), salad, rolls, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cookies. I sat with my roommate and several other contestants. After dinner, it was time to go back upstairs for dance rehearsals. Each group performed their dance in front of the other contestants a few times.
Once we were well-rehearsed on the dance, it was time to move onto the third type of rehearsal, which was the contestant introductions. Prior to this day, I did not know that we would actually have to introduce ourselves on stage. From watching other competitions, the possibility of this crossed my mind. Once we approached the microphone, we would announce our name and the title on our sash. For me, I would say, “Mikayla Mizruchi, DeWitt.”
The producer and choreographer informed us of do’s and don’ts for this and what needed to be done to look coordinated. At the pageant, someone would be in the front row, pointing to us for when it would be our time to speak, and we practiced the same way in rehearsals. Two contestants would be on each side of the stage and once each pair of contestants on her respective side of the stage announced her name and title, the contestants would walk around the microphone stand in the same direction, exit the stage, and the pair of contestants behind them would move up to the microphone. We were told to not adjust the height of the microphone. If the microphone were too high, we should not strain to get closer to it, and if the microphone were too low, do not bend over. Regardless of heights in relation to the microphone, it was important to project our voices.
When we rehearsed this, all contestants, both Miss and Teen, split up in half, moving to either side of the ballroom then paired up, as we made our way to the front to rehearse our introduction. While in the long line, our hair and makeup appointment times for the next two days were posted, so everyone took pictures of the schedule.
As we approached 10PM, we had a meeting reviewing reminders for the next day, such as Miss contestants being in the ballroom for breakfast at 7AM and the Teen contestants being at breakfast at 7:30AM and information about our assigned bus that would take us to The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College for the competition. Security procedures, such as bed checks for the evening were also reviewed. As we left this meeting, we received our contestant number button, which had to be worn throughout the weekend, in addition to our sash, and through the preliminary competition. My number was 107. Before heading upstairs, they had an assortment of snacks to take to bring upstairs, so I took Nutter Butter cookies.
When my roommate and I were back in our room, I showered and blow dried my hair. Especially for those with curly hair, like me, it was important to have it blown out, even if it looked frizzy, so the hair stylists could work efficiently the next day. Needless to say, my hair looked like a major puff ball. I rarely use heat on my hair, but for those of you, who ended up with a puff ball after using a hair dryer, comment below and share what you did to tame your mane!
One of the chaperones came to our room for bed checks, since all contestants needed to be in their rooms by a particular time. If we were not in our room, it could result in getting disqualified from the competition.
After a long and busy day, it was time for bed. In just several hours, I would finally be at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, getting ready for the live competition.