There was a time when a pageant was called a “beauty pageant” and the emphasis was on the beauty or presence of a contestant. Nothing about onstage interviews or speeches from the contestants, just how they looked. And, as much as possible, have them parading in bathing suits, and the men unabashedly ogling at the sight.
In this day and age, with advancements in women’s rights it is considered improper to simply emphasize on the physical aspects of a woman. Pageants these days wanted to emphasize more on the personalities, intelligence, and achievements women have made and the causes to be espoused. Though elements of sexiness are being revived in Miss Universe and Miss Earth, there is still a limit in the way it could be presented in a modern pageant.
It seems Miss Supranational is not bothered by modern sensibilities on what a pageant should be. Based on the format for this edition (and in all its previous editions), there is no onstage interview and the only thing that seemed to matter is how the contestant looked and projected onstage. There was a behind-the-scenes panel interview, but other than that what a contestant has to say is not that important. But I have to say, they managed to make this supposedly outmoded format work for the 21st century, with slick production values and modern music.
The stage backdrop for this year’s pageant, held at the Sports Palace in Minsk, Belarus, was a grand sight to behold. It is laden with lots of overhead LED fixtures that are set up to display varying themes, images, or text to better cue the differing sequences. There are also overhead spotlights, and the stage flooring has seven circular discs surrounding a large circular stage.
I couldn’t seem to pull up the names of the hosts of the proceedings, except that their first names are Ivan and Dennis (or is it Denis?). There is a loosey-goosey vibe in the way they deliver their spiels, not as professional sounding as, say, the combo of Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic in Miss Universe or as unflappable as the excellent Angela Chow in the nine years she co-hosted Miss World from 2003-2011, but they make it up with enthusiastic energy. You believe them when they state how excited they are seeing the 83 contestants onstage (and backstage)–noted Lothario Brett Michaels never sounded this excited during his 2010 Miss Universe hosting stint. But I have to note that I suppose because of the way I was raised, I tend to associate something villainous and sinister when I hear their accents (think Boris & Natasha of the 1950s Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons)–when they announced the winner was from “far, far way” and that it has a “lot of beautiful women” something rather unsavory popped in my mind momentarily (think “Me love you long time”) and at that moment I somehow felt offended. But I give them the benefit of the doubt as obviously English is not their first language and perhaps their intentions are truly benign. Still, their English efforts are commendable.
The format of the pageant is unapologetically sexy, and it seems to draw inspiration from the Victoria’s Secret fashion show especially in the swimsuit sequences (and there are plenty of them–three to be exact). This is definitely not something that they can get away staging in, say, Indonesia. All 83 contestants present themselves in national costumes (organized by continent), pink bikinis for the swimsuit segment, and evening gowns of their own choosing. The Top 20 semifinalists then parade in white lingerie, then in glowing pink swimsuits, and finally specialized evening gowns by Belarusian designers. All sequences prove to be entertaining as they are accompanied by pre-recorded modern pop music, albeit cover versions by a female Belarusian or Russian singer (the accent was a dead giveaway). I suppose the Belarusian organizers are aware of performance rights royalties that need to be paid if they played original recordings so they had to have them covered by a local artist instead. Anyway, I tracked down the roster of songs covered in each of the sequences on the file below. Have to say they are fresh choices that made the sequences work wonderfully, and the extensive rehearsals paid off with the 83 contestants delivering slick and intricate choreography with flair.
I have previously noted in my homestretch review about Curacao’s disqualification. It was later reported that Scotland (Gemma Palmer) withdrew a few days before the finals. But it wasn’t reported until we see the opening number that there was another contestant who came in last minute. Let me share who she is, shall we?
SIERRA LEONE – Suad Dukuray. Well, at least we’re glad she made it and was able to join the parades onstage. But in my opinion, well, she’s obviously not in contention for the Top 20 unlike the other gorgeous Africans competing this year.
We should also have to make a brief note for one non-finalist who got some time in the spotlight for winning a special award onstage:
BEST NATIONAL COSTUME: NICARAGUA – Alejandra Gross. She is a worthy winner, but I think this was a closely fought contest as there are a lot of impressive choices out there. I thought Indonesia’s costume was the closest one to win this award.
All images courtesy of Tomasz Mosionek and Milton Meloch for Miss Supranational unless otherwise indicated.
COMING UP: THE TOP 20