For pageantry, talent numbers must be entertaining and have some "WOW" factor whether it's dancing, singing, baton, instrumental, martial arts, monologue or anything else. It takes months, sometimes years, to work up a talent number that pops on the pageant stage and showcases your personality and performance strengths. It's not always the most technically challenging number that wins the highest score either; but rather the talent number that emotionally engages the audience and judges.
Remember, not everyone on the judging panel is a piano virtuoso so playing a Chopin piece may not connect with all of them. Same thing goes for Pointe or opera. You must be really good at your talent and it needs to grab the audience's attention in an entertaining way. Here are some tips to help you polish your pageant talent.
- All talent numbers must be memorized. No sheet music, no index cards, nothing.
Put only one song on the disc and make several copies. I can't tell you how many times I've judged a pageant when the music is cued only to have the contestant make this "cutting" sign with her hand to indicate it's the wrong track. Talk about making an unprofessional first impression. One song per disc. Sometimes the discs don't read on the equipment. That's why it's important to bring a back up. When we went to the national Cinderella pageant, I had three backup discs for each of my daughters. I wasn't taking any chances.
Musical accompaniment must be professionally recorded and the cuts smooth and seamless. www.Musicalcreations.com is a wonderful resource for vocalists. They can professionally edit any of the songs in their catalogue to the proper length needed for your pageant. Don't sing acapella. For other musically backing tracks, find a good studio that can create a professional track for you.
- Songs and dances that are great for a team may not work as a soloist.Dancers, work with the choreographer to modify the dance so it highlights YOUR strengths. If you're not good at leaps, don't attempt a bunch of leaps because it highlights your weakness. Or if you're not very flexible, take out the splits. Remember, you're totally alone on the stage. We'll see everything and you won't have the energy and strength of the team to relay on.Vocalist, the song needs to be in a key and style that suits your range and you must be able to hit every note with ease. Just because it’s your favorite song to listen to doesn’t necessary mean it’s the song you should be singing on the stage.
- Body parts must be properly covered and remain covered at ALL times during the dance.
Dancers, YOU MUST WEAR DANCE TIGHTS. No bare legs. A full body nude tight with a convertible foot is an ideal undergarment to create a smooth, seamless line. Your bottom, stomach, and chest must be covered and bouncing of the "personal stuff" restricted. If that means wearing a couple bras, then do it. You don't want the judges to be distracted by anything.
Now, I know what some of you hip hop dancers are thinking out there, "but I need to show my stomach. It's part of the style and costume." Just be prepared for the consequences of your decision. Not all judges think hip hop dance and clothing that show the midriff are appropriate for pageant competition. Certain moves are not age appropriate for young children and if it makes the judges blush, you're going to be docked points.
Vocal soloists, watch the hem length of your short dresses. Most of the time, the judges are lower than the stage and they can see up your dress.
- Allow enough time (several months) to choose you costume, and perfect your talent number. Your costume must be as polished as your talent number. Honestly, your talent number isn't something you can just throw together over night. Judges can tell with the first note you sing and the first move you make as to whether or not you’re a serious contender.
If you need help selecting your talent number, or any area of pageant preparation, feel free to contact me through my website at www.WinningThroughPageantry.com.
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Rhonda Shappert is an expert pageant coach, an iPEC Certified Professional Coach, an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, and a member of the International Coach Federation. She created Winning Through Pageantry® to partner with pageant contestants and their support people to provide complete pageant preparation, achieve winning results in life through pageantry, and to Succeed From The Inside Out®. She has over 30 years experience in the pageantry world as a contestant, judge, emcee, staff member, mother of daughters who compete, Mrs. Ohio America 2005, and has held multiple titles at the local, state and national levels.
Rhonda graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in Musical Theater from The Ohio State University and has performed on stage in 15 countries on the Asian, European and American continents. This mother of three home educates their children and has been married 21 years to her husband Stephen, is the former mayor of her community, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Virtual Academy. She and her husband perform original contemporary Christian music. Their music CD entitled Cana is available through www.cdbaby.com/cd/shappert or on her website. For more information on Rhonda, visit www.WinningThroughPageantry.com .