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Preliminary Pageants - what you need to know

Cinderella is a 3-tier system. We start with preliminary pageants, which occur across the state from September through April. The next level is the state pageant. You do not have to compete in a preliminary pageant to participate in the state pageant, but you do receive a discount. Our state pageant is currently Memorial Day Weekend at Seven Springs Resort near Somerset. Finally, is the International Pageant. Overall winners at the State pageant from Tot-Teen must attend the International pageant and anyone else who participates in states is invited to attend the International pageant, which currently takes place the last week of July in Dallas Texas. In this post, I'm going to talk about clothes and appearance, modeling, personality and talent, and awards.

Clothing and Appearance

Let's start with clothing and appearance. As a natural pageant, your clothes will never be judged, and Cinderella is not a facial beauty contest. HOWEVER, your overall appearance does matter in that your stage presence is important and a component that we try to work on as part of our youth development program. Can someone win Cinderella without having the "right" clothes? Definitely. If one participant completely outshines everyone else, then the clothes will not be as important. Cinderella has a specific style that is different than most pageants. We have a classic, even vintage style and the style is simple. Our goal is to see the participant, not their clothes. Here are some of the examples of clothing in the different divisions:

When looking for clothes, think about what colors look good on you or your child. The color should make the participant pop, it should not fade them out or make them blend. The colors should also be simple, not a bunch of colors and usually stay away from patterns. Also stay away from lace, sequins, and heavily rhinestoned outfits. The exception to this could be evening gowns for girls ages 13-29.

Divisions through Tots should wear ruffle socks for party wear and knee highs or ruffle socks for casual wear. We recommend a flat white shoe, like a Nina Bonnett through the Mini Miss division. Many kids wear the same shoes for both casual wear and party wear and we recommend no heel in those divisions. Mini Miss can wear a white nylon for party wear and a white nylon or knee high for casual wear. For Miss participants, we recommend shoes, like the Nina Seeley, for party wear and casual wear can be a wedge or chunk heeled shoe. Keep the heel low - 1-2". Miss participants should wear nude nylons for party wear. Teens and Women should wear a heel for formal wear and casual wear. The heel can be a wedge or chunky heel for casual wear.

Your appearance, outside of your clothes should be neat as well. Hair should be styled - be it with waves or straight and makeup should be simple. We do not recommend makeup at preliminary pageants for anyone 9 and under (Mini Miss division and below). The Miss division can wear very light makeup and Teens and Woman can wear natural makeup. While items like flippers and extensions are no longer disallowed, especially at the preliminary and state pageants, we are truly looking for real kids in real clothes, so take that into consideration if you choose to wear these items.


Everyone in Cinderella models to the same music and models the same style. Once kids move into the Tiny Tot and Tot divisions, we encourage them to drop any routines that include waving or hand movements. This video is a fantastic example of the modeling.

As the video explains, Casualwear modeling includes an introduction. For the younger divisions (through Tiny Tot), it is okay for the parent to say the introduction, but if the child can clearly say it, they should - this is mainly for the Tiny Tot division. Once participants become Tots, they are on stage by themselves and should be delivering their own introduction. Through the Miss division, the introduction is as simple as "hello, my name is Kim, I am 6 years old from Lancaster." The teen and Woman can have a longer introduction that gives a little bit of information about their life. The introduction should be no longer than 20-30 seconds. For preliminaries, especially, it is still okay for teens and women to still give a short introduction - we can work on a longer one for states.

Personality and Talent Cinderella is a personality and talent driven program. These are important facets of the program and something you should not dismiss. For divisions through Tot, they do not do a talent, so personality is especially important. The best way to help any participant's personality shine is to make sure they are comfortable with modeling. Practice enough so it is second nature! For Tots, they will do an informal onstage interview that we call Tot Personality. The best way to practice this is to constantly ask them questions. Ask them questions they might be asked, but also ask questions that are just random and strange - this will help them learn to answer on the fly. You can also practice helping them sit still with their legs crossed to the side. They should practice keeping quite hands in their lap and not swinging their legs. Talent can be intimidating when a participant is not a dancer or singer. Cinderella talent is about entertainment and not necessarily skill. However, skill often does lead to a more entertaining talent. There are many other talents besides dance and singing that can work for Cinderella. Monologues are very popular as are karate and cheer routines. I have seen soccer routines, speed painting, and a number of other out of the box talents. Just consider what you enjoy doing and how you can make that entertaining for others to watch. Often, just by setting it to an appropriate song, you can really make it fun!

Awards Our awards are divided out by ages as of September 1 of the start of the pageant season (so for the 2022-2023 season, that would be 9/1/22). Infants are less than 12 months. Babies are 12 months to less than 24 months. Tiny Tots are 24 months to less than 36 months. Tots are 3 years - 6 years. Mini Misses are 7 years to 9 years. Misses are 10 years to 12 years. Teens are 13 years to 17 years. Women are 18 years to 29 years. Each division has the potential of the following awards: overall, beauty, personality/talent, photogenic. If there are more than 4 participants in a division, we will also hand out alternate awards. Everyone receives a title from a preliminary pageant. We do not double crown, so each person receives one and only one title. Our system is not a score-based program. The judges rank each person in each competition (so partywear modeling, casual wear modeling, personality/talent, and photogenic). Based on the modeling and personality/talent, the judges determine who best represents Cinderella in the division. That person is the overall winner for the division. Next the person who has the overall best poise/confidence and appearance, and was not the overall winner, wins the beauty award. The person who has the best personality or talent (depending on division) and has not been awarded another tittle, wins the personality/talent title. The person who has the best photogenic entry and has not already been awarded another title wins the photogenic award. If we award alternate titles, then a similar situation occurs with beauty, personality/talent, and photogenic first alternate and beauty, personality/talent and photogenic 2nd alternate.

I hope this information was helpful to you and, as always, please ask any questions you have!

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