In the Spotlight
Dance students excel at Miss Georgia Pageant
KENNESAW, Ga. (Jun 30, 2017) — A trio of Kennesaw State University dance students competed in the Miss Georgia Pageant this month, and in September one of them, Alyssa Beasley, will represent the state at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. Beasley, a sophomore, is the reigning Miss Georgia. KSU alumna Brooke Doss, the first runner-up, and KSU sophomore Michaela Heide tied for the preliminary talent award.
The three women are well known around Kennesaw State’s College of the Arts, having studied dance and performed in multiple productions recently.
“All three students used their dance training to distinguish themselves among the large pool of contestants from across Georgia,” said KSU Dance Chair Ivan Pulinkala. “The talent and interview portions of the competition are key determinants of a contestant’s success due to the weighted scoring rubric that is standard to the Miss America organization, highlighting the combination of beauty, intelligence and talent.”
Beasley, who is from Brunswick, competed as Miss Southeast Georgia, winning the overall talent, evening gown and swimsuit awards. Earlier in the week, the dance and exercise science major won two preliminary awards.
For her competition, Beasley performed a lyrical dance to Ellie Goulding’s “When Your Feet Don’t Touch the Ground.” The 19-year-old Beasley shares her love of jazz dancing with the current Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields, who performed a jazz dance to win her competition.
Doss, who is the current Miss Conyers Cherry Blossom, graduated from KSU this spring with a minor in dance. A four-time Miss Georgia competitor, she was first runner-up last year and again this year.
“Thanks to KSU dance, and especially ballet professor Mara Mandradjieff, I worked my way up to winning a talent preliminary award in 2015 with my own version of the ‘Carmen’ variation,” Doss said. This year, she also won a preliminary award for her Broadway jazz en pointe performance to “All That Jazz” from “Chicago.”
“Without Ms. Mara’s passion for teaching, dedication to pushing her students every single class to be better — paying attention to each individual student’s needs, and the motivation and inspiration that she provided to me and countless others — I would never have rekindled my love for ballet or my ability to competitively perform it,” Doss said. “I am very thankful for her and KSU for enabling me to reach that goal for myself.”
Doss, who is 23, had many in the audience rooting for her Saturday night after she won the preliminary award for lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit earlier in the week. According to pageant lore, a contestant who wins both is expected to score high in the overall competition.
“The wonderful thing about the Miss America Organization is that, as the largest scholarship provider for young women in the world, it has enabled me to graduate KSU completely debt free, and this year alone I won an additional $8,750 that I can put toward law school.”
Doss said her goal is to work in Washington, D.C., as a legal and political correspondent for a national news network.
“I'm excited to see what doors open for me and what experiences lie ahead as I work my way to that goal,” Doss said.
Heide, Miss Paulding County, selected music from the opera “Carmen” for her classical ballet en pointe routine. The 19-year-old is pursuing a major in dance.
“Preparing for Miss Georgia, my dance classes at KSU helped me improve my technique and stamina,” Heide said. “Dancing consistently every day really helped me physically and mentally prepare for the busy competition week in Columbus.”
A member of the KSU Dance Company, Heide was cast in “Metamorphosis,” Pulinkala’s original work, which premiered at the new Dance Theater on the Marietta Campus.
“The Dance Department allows its students to reserve studio space, which is a huge help,” Heide said. “I was able to reserve a studio to rehearse my talent piece. I know I wouldn't have been able to win the talent preliminary competition award if I wasn't able to use the studio to rehearse.”
Heide said she is grateful for having had the pageant experience.
“Overall, the biggest thing I have learned while participating in the Miss Georgia pageant is that everyone is blessed with talent,” she said. “For me, my talent is sharing my love for dance. I truly believe that everyone is special and has something to share with the world. Additionally, I have learned interview skills, public speaking, the value of volunteerism and time management.
“I plan on competing in more Miss America Organization preliminary pageants as I continue to work toward my goal of becoming Miss Georgia.”
Another Georgian, Betty Cantrell of Warner Robins, Ga., was crowned Miss America 2016.
“This a wonderful accomplishment for all three young women and a proud moment for Kennesaw State’s Department of Dance,” said Pulinkala, who has previously served as a judge in the Miss Georgia and Miss Hawaii pageants.
– Robert S. Godlewski
Photos courtesy of Matt Boyd Photography and Darrell Roaden
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.