Richmond choreographer in step with Miss World

Richmond's Stephanie Sy is the choreographer for Miss World Canada 2013, the official Canadian preliminary to the renowned Miss World pageant.
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Thirty-five young women are vying for the title of Miss World Canada 2013 in Richmond this week, and Stephanie Sy is helping them look their best.

Sy, a local dancer, choreographer and kinesiologist, is working as lead choreographer for the pageant. The born-and-raised Sy has been teaching the finalists the right steps and movements so they can put their best foot forward in Richmond today.

River Rock Casino Resort is hosting the pageant's preliminary competition and judging Wednesday and the Grand Crowning Gala Thursday night.

Miss World Canada is the official Canadian preliminary to the Miss World pageant, scheduled for Sept. 28 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Sy is a Steveston High grad and director at Pur Movement, a new Ironwood studio offering programs in dance, fitness and Power Plate training. To get there, she trained with top-notch schools, including Richmond Academy of Dance and National Ballet School.

Pur Movement offers exercise programs that rise above the norm. Its offerings include SexyStilettos Dance, a program Sy created five years ago after drawing inspiration from the pop group the Pussycat Dolls. The classes have proven popular. She's now beginning to certify instructors for the program, with interest coming from around the world.

Her training and experience—which includes TV and film credits—has made Sy a choreographer who's in demand.

For Miss World Canada, one of the 35 contestants she's guiding is from Richmond: Selina Yue, a Grade 11 student at York House School.

Tickets to Miss World Canada 2013, May 8 and 9, are $25 to $150. Visit or call 1-855-985-5000 for more information.

What are you doing for Miss World Canada?

"My work with Miss World Canada entails four to eight hours of rehearsals a day for nine consecutive days with 35 contestants. It is a very hectic schedule as the contestants fly in and immediately have press conferences, photo shoots, and public appearances to make between strenuous rehearsals. My job is to create the numbers that make up the entire two-hours shows, which includes the opening number, international costumes, swimwear and evening gowns."

What is your approach as choreographer?

"My approach as choreographer is to be as prepared as I can be and to give tough love… I asked for each (contestant) to give me their all during rehearsals and I would do the same for them. I really care about what the end result looks like because it is a reflection of my hard work, and I want these ladies to go far in the competition. I am friendly and approachable to the contestants but I am also strict and stern during rehearsals because I want them to shine."

How is that different from pageants of the past?

"Every choreographer has their own way to tackle a project. My way is to listen carefully to what the show producers are asking for and find a way to make their vision come to life through dance, movement, choreography and staging. I typically have one dance assistant so that I can bounce ideas back and forth during pre-production meetings, and from there the visions come to life for me. Music is key and so important for me. It is the main inspiration behind my work. I spend a lot of time listening to the lyrics and envisioning what the choreography and staging would look like in my mind, before even stepping into the studio."

That key bit of advice are you giving contestants?

"The key bits of advice I've been giving them have been about being and staying genuine, and remembering why they are here. With the long eight hour rehearsals and endless public appearances, these ladies are put through the challenge of being great at all times and sometimes you see their energy fade. I gave the same advice to Gloria Tang, who I had trained for Miss Chinese Vancouver earlier this year. She later travelled to Hong Kong, and won the title of Miss Chinese International, and it's amazing to see so many doors open for her."

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