Miss Cape Coral culls Miss Grand Florida win
Cape Coral resident and Fort Myers native, Maicie Lynn Clark, has been named “Miss Grand Florida 2015” in the Miss Grand Florida pageant held in November in Orlando. Clark has held the title “Miss Cape Coral” since February of this year when she won the Miss Cape Coral U.S. International pageant held at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Cape Coral.
Clark took her first walk down a beauty pageant runway in the 2008 Miss Cape Coral Teen USA pageant held at the Cape Coral Yacht Club. Then a 16-year-old Cypress Lakes High School student and student of dance at the Robin Dawn Academy of Performing Arts in Cape Coral, Clark had never given a thought to entering beauty contests. But when a friend entered the Miss Cape Coral Teen pageant and urged her to do the same, Clark thought, “Why not? What are the odds? I could win, but if I don’t, what does it matter?” She won.
The following year, Clark entered the Miss Teen USA pageant at the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers and was crowned Miss Fort Myers Teen USA. During the year she held that title, however, Clark decided that the beauty pageant circuit was not really for her. She relinquished her title and gave her full attention to school and dance.
With a dancer’s natural poise and grace, Clark is smiling, soft-spoken and wholly unassuming as she recalls her hesitant journey over the past seven years to the Miss Grand Florida title that puts her in the running for Miss Grand International.
“I wasn’t as serious as I am now. I didn’t see myself doing pageants. I saw all these girls who had been doing pageants since they were toddlers-they were pros. I was comfortable being on stage, but hearing myself speak and having to talk about myself-all about me, me, me-that was uncomfortable for me. And when it came to dancing, I felt so much more comfortable doing group numbers than I did solos.”
Clark has been dancing since she was 3. “I grew up dancingballet, tap, jazz, theater and pointI was competitive dancing in New York and Las Vegas at a really young age.”
With the hand-off of her Miss Fort Myers title, Clark consigned glittering crowns and gowns to her teenage past and entered the halls of academia, first at Valencia College in Orlando, and then at Edison State College (now Florida Southwestern State College), where she earned her Associate in Arts degree. The one constant in her life, however, was dance; she next enrolled in the School of Theater and Dance at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
“Then, about a year and a half ago, I decided I needed to take a break from school and dancing. I thought I might do some modeling, so I connected with Suzi again.”
Suzi Hosfeld is the executive director of Envy Pageant Productions & Envy Models & Talent, an award-winning modeling agency formed in 1984 “for the expressed purpose of assisting new talent and fresh faces break into the professional modeling, acting and talent industries.”
Suzi Hosfeld has been Clark’s coach and mentor since her first pageant in 2008. In October, 2013, when Clark approached her about modeling, Hosfeld suggested that she enter the Miss Tampa pageant, a preliminary to the Miss Florida US International event. Clark entered the contest and was crowned Miss Lee County U.S. International. She was now positioned to compete for Miss Florida U.S. International in November, which Hosfeld persuaded her to do. With little time to prepare, Clark won first runner up. “OK, that’s great,” she thought. “I’ll take that. Now I’m done. I’ll focus on school.
“But Suzi said,” Clark continued with a wry smile, “‘You know what? Since you came so close, you should do it again.’ I had to think about it. I had a lot on my plate, and I wasn’t sure if my heart was in it. I try to do only the things that are me, that I personally feel good about. So I really thought about it.”
Finally persuaded by her friend, Hosfeld, to continue with pageants, Clark entered the Miss Cape Coral U.S. International pageant held in February 2014 at St. Andrew in Cape Coral and won the title. She was now poised to compete for the title of Miss Grand Florida.
The three-day, Miss Grand Florida pageant opened on Friday evening, Nov. 21, in Orlando, with the talent segment of the competition. Clark performed “jazz, contemporary modern, very technical dance.”
The stage was not a performance stage. It was a small square with a runway. But, says Clark, “I feel good being on my toes, both literally and figuratively speaking-in the sense that sometimes, when things don’t go as planned, I have to improvise. I can do that. I’m always ready for whatever may happen.”
On Saturday morning, Nov. 22, Clark walked on stage to introduce herself to the panel of judges.
“I had to dig deep and ask, OK, who am I? It had been a while since I had thought about that. Writing my intro helped me reevaluate what I want to do, now and after this.” Clark’s intro was characteristically simple and direct. “Good evening. My name is Maicie Clark. I’m a 23-year-old modern dancer studying at USF in Tampa, and I’m really looking forward to doing the international student volunteer program this summer.”
The parade of title holders followed the intros, then the young women exited the stage and came back out in their bathing suits.
“I’m a dancer, so I don’t walk that well. Dancers walk like this.” Clark pointed her bare toes out. “Models walk like this.” She lifted one bare foot high and placed it in front of the other in the peculiar, mincing step of a high-fashion runway model. She laughed. “So I have to say to myself, OK, dance mode off, pageant mode on.”
Evening gowns were next. ‘”I do the walk, take my time, then come back to center state and take a random question. It can be personal or political. Anything. You have three minutes. I used to just pour out my answer. I would be talking in circles, rambling, talking really fast. Now I take the time to slow down, breathe, listen to the question and really think rather than just speaking.”
In her calm, level-headed way, Clark assessed herself as a contestant.
“I’m not really competitive. I like to win, but I’m a good loser. I try and just enjoy the moment. It would be nice to win, but”
She then turned, as if en pointe, back to her center. “I always want to be dancing in some way, even if it’s teaching, because if you’re teaching, you’re dancing. A long time ago, my ultimate goal was Broadway, but now I see myself sharing my love for dance internationally. Maybe through the Peace Corps. I would like to teach people from other countries our style of dance, and they could share with me their culture’s dance and I could bring that back and have my own studio. I want to perform as long as can-I would love to perform in a company like the Netherlands Dance Theater in Amsterdam, but in my heart, I would love to teach. This summer I’d like to do this four-week, study-abroad program. You spend two weeks helping a community, teaching children how to read or-I’d like to teach dance-and you spend the next two weeks exploring the country. If I could make it all the way internationally with beauty pageants, if I could win highest title, Miss Grand International, that would put me in front of a community in Thailand. (The Grand system of beauty pageantry was founded and is based in Thailand.) That’s why I like the system I’m in. Miss Grand International now is in Thailand and she’s doing all this community work helping kids.”
On Sunday evening, Nov. 23, the contestants came back onstage in their evening gowns for the award ceremony and in the grand finale of the evening, Maicie Lynn Clark danced away with the Miss Florida Grand crown. She is on her way to the 2015 Grand International competition in Bangkok.
Whether in a stilt-heeled runway walk or in choreographing the future course of her life, Clark is balanced and adept, agile on her toes, a disciplined, yet creative and improvisational dancer.
“My goal,” she says with a dazzling Miss Florida smile, “is always to be moving, dancing.”
Miss Florida Grand will be making local public appearances throughout her reign. For information, contact Suzi Hosfeld at 239-822-4661.