Being the youngest and least experienced in a pageant can be unnerving, especially if you're "not really a pageant girl," said Madeline "Maddie" Soboleff Levy.
Levy, 17, recently represented the Tlingit & Haida Central Council in the Miss National Congress of American Indians Pageant in Spokane, Wash. She did not win the title, but did win "most talented" for a performance in which she told the story of the Tlingit National Anthem, translated the verses into English, and sang and drummed the song, which is often used as an entrance piece for local dancing and drumming groups.
Levy, a senior at Juneau Douglas High School, wore a long, white deerskin dress adorned with fringes and beads, created by Lena Woods of Angoon. The daughter of Ross Soboleff, vice president of corporate communications and shareholders affairs for Sealaska Corp., Levy used a drum owned by her stepmother, Vicki Soboleff.
"I wanted to do something that was particular to our area," Levy said about her choice of the Anthem. "I did a PowerPoint presentation going into the background of the song, and told who wrote it, why they wrote it, and then I sang it."
"I am not normally a drummer, so it was a challenge to learn how to drum," Levy added.
"It was the first time I have ever competed in any pageant. I was one of six candidates. They were all really incredible, all very talented and all college students, Levy said.
Winning the pageant has given her a springboard for future endeavors, one of which is coming up soon. Juneau will have a chance to see Levy perform at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the Alaska State Museum. The free program is by storyteller Brett Dillingham.
"I saw Maddie in the 'Beyond Heritage' program in November, and she was so impressive I had to ask her to perform with me," Dillingham said.
The museum program, a Dillingham original, is called "Quilt: A Soldiers' Story." It is based on a quilt that appears in the Gastineau Channel Historical Society's book on historic quilts, a quilt sewn from thousands of tiny wool patches from soldiers' uniforms.
"I've been working on it for over a year," Dillingham said. "Everything that happens in the story really happened from 1812 to 1927. Most of the action takes place between 1861 to 1898. I have been somewhat liberal with a variety of historical things that happened in Klukwan and Dyea and made them into one story."
A Tlingit legend of a maiden courted by two men is incorporated in "Quilt," and Maddie appears as the maiden, softly beating her drum before and during her entrance on stage. "I'm part of the dramatizing," Levy said.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.