Sunday, January 15, 2012

Irish Dancing their way to the Crown: Miss America 2012 Reaction

And then there were two...
The last two contestants standing at the 2012 Miss America pageant were opera singer, Miss Wisconsin, Laura Kaeppeler, and Irish dancer, Miss Oklahoma, Betty Thompson. 

Our new Miss America 2012 is... not an Irish dancer. However, Laura Kaeppeler is stunning, intelligent, and talented. She will be a fabulous representative as Miss America 2012...but back to the Irish dancers.

As the pageant began, Betty was off to a smashing start. She had already won the judges over, who selected Betty as a preliminary talent winner, accounting for 35% of her score before the televised finals on Saturday night. As Chris Harrison [host of TV's "The Bachelor"] announced the semi-finalists he began with the coveted "America's Choice" spot. The America's Choice winner was voted for online by fans. Who was America's Choice? None other than our own Irish dancing queen, Betty!  She was joined by 14 other state titleholders, including my hometown favorite, Miss Florida, Kristina Janolo. Neither Miss Alaska, Katy Lovegreen, nor Miss Delaware, Maria Cahill [the other two Irish Dancers competing for the crown] made the semi-finals. 

The semi-finalists quickly scampered off stage to change into their Komplique  swimsuits. Komplique is the official swimwear sponsor for Miss America, and I absolutely loved the contemporary, flattering suits worn by the contestants. In my opinion, these were the best looking swimsuits worn on the Miss America stage in years! Betty quickly proved that Irish dancing does a body good! Her 5'2'' frame could not have looked better as she dazzled the judges in swimwear. 

Proof that Irish dancing is great for the core!

As the top 12 contestants were announced to move onto evening wear, Betty was called last... which was incredibly stressful for those of us watching from home! I think Team Betty collectively held our breath until Miss Oklahoma's name was finally announced. Her exquisite white, crystal embellished evening gown was designed and custom made by Project Runway's Jonathan Kayne. The gown's design was influenced by Betty's interest in Greek mythology. Betty's goddess inspired gown not only showed off her tiny waist and hourglass figure, but definitely had enough bling to compete with a Gavin any day. 

Betty *sparkled* in evening gown... 
and not just because of the rhinestones. 

Following the evening gown phase of competion, the top 12 contestants rushed to change into their talent costumes. Betty could be seen tying her hard shoes onstage, waiting for her name to be called. The reality-TV style talent phase of competition left no time for Betty [as well as the other dancers and singers] to warm up. Although drama and suspense increase ratings and interest, I hated that the contestants were informed whether or not they were going to perform their talents after they were already dressed and onstage. My own Miss Florida, Kristina Janolo, was the first to be told that she would not be performing her talent and moving on to the top 10. I will say, however, that both she and Miss South Carolina, Bree Boyce, handled their eliminations from the competition with true Southern grace. Luckily for Betty, she went on to perform her talent! 

Betty's Irish dance routine was set to "Warriors" from Lord of the Dance. Jason Hays, a fellow McTeggart dancer, helped choreograph the routine. On top of being a World Champion, Jason has toured with Lord of the Dance and Feet of Flames. If you ask me, Betty's charismatic and technically excellent performance should have scored her straight 10's from the judges [but perhaps I'm a bit biased]! On top of that, she managed to dance her routine on one of the slipperiest floors I've seen [I swear you could see her reflection in it!] and danced with such intensity that one of her shoe mics partially came off her heel. I also loved that while Betty was preparing to begin her performance, a home video of a young Betty dancing a light jig was being shown behind her. That may be the first time a light jig made it to the Miss America stage :)

Look at that smile! She has so much to be proud of!

Betty went on top the top five where she answered her onstage question thoughtfully and concisely. And then it was time for the announcement of Miss America 2012! 

The top five awaiting crowning... my mantra during this time?

Irish dancers worldwide were rooting for one of our own, Betty Thompson, to win the 91st Miss America Pageant. When Miss Wisconsin was announced as the winner, Betty graciously and genuinely congratulated Laura, with her gorgeous smile still on her beautiful face. Although Betty did not go home with the crown, she definitely stole our hearts. As one Irish dancer so eloquently tweeted, "She is the Brogan of the pageant." Betty may have ended up as 1st Runner Up, but she will always be our Irish dancing Miss America. She has a lot to be proud of, and even more to be smile about. On top of the priceless memories she'll take home from the Miss America pageant, she also earned a $25,000 scholarship to further her education! 

Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler, and her Runners Up
Miss Arizona, Jennifer Sedler/ Miss Oklahoma, Betty Thompson/ 
Miss New York, Kaitlin Monte / Miss California, Noelle Freeman 

And the good news doesn't end with Betty! Miss Delaware, Maria Cahill, won the non-finalist talent award with her Irish dance! The Irish dancing community has much to be proud of. We were represented well at Miss America 2012. Congratulations to Betty, Maria, and our new Miss America!   

- Moira


  1. You can follow Betty's
    blog at!

  2. Great Recap! Unfortunate that she didn't win, but she did a great job showcasing our dance form to America - in a very positive way. Also, I absolutely love her dress and her dance costume. A true definition of stunning.

  3. Thank you so much for you kind words about my sister. We're very proud of her and all that she has accomplished and especially her Irish dancing.

  4. You are so welcome! The Irish dancing community was on "Team Betty" 100%! She has so much to be proud of, and shined a beautiful light onto Irish dancing. You're lucky to have such a special sister :) Thanks for reading!


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