Open letter to Mrs Norma Heitner from Melina Soochan, Miss RapSohD Talented
Teen 2001, Miss HJTTI Canada 2001:
It seems unreal and dreamlike that the week spent in New York now resides
in the past, because, as you know, weeks and even months of toil and preparation
had slowly built up my anticipation and nervousness. It had been a long,
arduous journey, but definitely one worth travelling.
In all honesty, I had never even heard of Hal Jackson's Talented Teens
International before I was crowned Miss Canada at the April 1st competition.
That was the first step into this madness of opportunity that I took. Even
then, I thought that many of the other girls were very talented and I was
sure one of them was going to win. I have pictures and pictures of me standing
there, with the runners up at my side, clutching a huge bouquet of flowers
as if for dear life, blushing from ear to ear! I can't even describe the
joy that pulsated through my heart the moment it settled in that I had won!
Me! I laughed and hugged and shook hands with people for a long time afterwards,
but this I hardly remember, being subjected to fluttering butterflies and
a blurry vision. From that moment on, I knew it was going to be hard work.
And I was quite right.
The whole trip was a whirlwind of activity. More than anything else, I
noticed the insanely long hours of rehearsal time, sometimes up to 8 hours
a day! Don't get me wrong, much of it was spent watching the choreographers
figure out the dance routine on the spot, while we sat around chatting.
(By the way, they were such nice people! And great dancers!) I, personally,
didn't have much of a problem learning the moves, but I noticed their infinite
patience and dedication to those who needed the extra time. We spent so
much time in that rehearsal studio that it became our second home, literally.
Nicole often fell asleep there like it was her own bed! But I don't blame
her. We were all exhausted.
Other than practice time, we had a few outings that required dressing
up and putting on our best smiles. Which wasn't a problem because we were
having so much fun anyway! The places I found most memorable were the dinner
on the yacht, Amateur Night at the Apollo theatre, and the fantastic musical
Blast! Being a musician myself, I was amazed and astounded by that performance
especially, and fancied myself actually taking part in it one day.
Despite all the things we did during the week, the greatest reward was
spending time with the other girls. I honestly believe that I've made some
friends for life in that crowd of talented individuals. I definitely got
along well with everyone, just some more than others. Now I feel an attachment
to them. We've been through some rough things together, such as those of
us who didn't make it into the top 10, but we comforted each other. And
yet, as disappointed as we were for not making it, we still felt this sense
of pride for those that did, and the sincere congrats that were given in
the dressing room truly warmed my heart.
All in all, it was a great experience! Even though I didn't win, I spent
some fun times with the girls, met some really famous people, and ate some
really good food! If I could do it again, I definitely would, and I would
take lots of pictures, because this is the kind of thing you'll want to
remember for the rest of your life!
Alicia Keys & Melina