Stars on Ice
Kurt List

Kurt Browning's Gotta Dance

GM Place, Vancouver, BC, Oct. 26, 2001

written by Tina

Finally getting around to writing a review of the show. My review will probably be mostly Kurt-centric, since I didn't recognize a lot of the music, and in the excitement of the evening, I've forgotten a lot of the programs already =(. But, it's always fun to get more perspectives, so I'll do what I can =).

Due to some mishaps with traffic, we got to the arena around 7:20PM. It turns out that they didn't have programs for the show, just these small two-page brochures. On the reverse of the cover were pictures of all the performers (no mention of Scott Hamilton), and facing was a listing of all the credits. As someone already mentioned, Kurt was listed as "Creative Director". On the reverse was a big ad for Smuckers, since they were the primary sponsors of the show. Unfortunately, they only printed 5000 copies of the brochure, and they were all gone by the time we got there. Sigh....

When we got in the arena, we discovered that the on-ice seats were in fact on the ice, but they had put up black curtains, about board height, between the on-ice seats and the ice. Therefore, the view of the skaters' feet was obscured. The curtains were to put up sponsor signs - we saw AFLAC, Nuskin, Smuckers, and others...they had a lot of sponsors! Painted into the ice (though I didn't realize this until afterwards) was a big Smuckers logo. Our seats were center ice...the stage was set up to our left with "Gotta Dance" projected all over the back of it. The show started about a 1/2 hour late.

The show opened up with "Gotta Dance" and Kurt out dancing a bit, and then kind of doing arm flourishes on the ice (hard to explain). It wasn't until Sonia came out behind him, "shyly" with her hands behind her back, only to produce a pair of skates, that I realized that Kurt didn't even have skates on =). As he sat down on the side of the ice putting them on, the other skaters came out, guys in black shirt and pants with a red and black tie around their waists (think That's Entertainment tie) and the girls in red dresses, skating down the ice to the music. The opening was brief, and segued into the "Singing in the Rain" music, with Yuka, Josee, and Renee wearing pastel coats (Yuka in green, Josee in pink, Renee in purple) that were somewhat reminiscent of the coat that Josee (and Kristi) wore in the beginning of one SOI where the coat was thrown down the line of skaters at the end of the opening number? Kurt came out, doing some of that famous choreography to Singing in the Rain, and the girls mirrored his steps at some points. The crowd was pretty enthused when they heard the music =). As the program ended, Kurt had Yuka and Renee on each arm going off the ice, but then looked behind him and realized Josee was still on the ice. He came back and they "strolled" down the ice together, before he took her coat and she went out skating a short number in her red dress. Unfortunately, I haven't the faintest idea what the music was.

Following Josee came Steven, in a white shirt, black pants, and jacket thrown over the shoulder. The song sounded like it was from some musical or show, and he looked like he was having an absolute blast skating to it. Then came Nicole (if I recall correctly, she and Steven slapped hands as he skated off and she skated on), in a little black outfit skating to Cabaret. Something about money making the world go around. The program was quite high energy - I think Nicole really fits in as a pro skater. It was fun to watch, even if most of the program was oriented towards the other side of the arena. BTW as each skater got onto the ice, the announcer announced who they were...

After Nicole, Gorsha and Steven skated onto the ice, doing some beautiful pure skating and mirror skating down the ice, while Ann Reinking came out on the stage... while they skated around, she was doing some stylized, slow, dancing, kind of reminiscent of the flamenco, though she didn't really get going until the two men skated around and came to a stop at each side of the stage, facing her. While they skated, she was mainly snapping and bending her body a bit. Her dance was quite neat... as she finished, first Gorsha, then Steven, came back out and did a big circle before skating back into the tunnel.

When Ann finished dancing, she didn't go off stage, but was instead joined by Brian, standing in his skate guards. They talked about how skating and dancing weren't that far off, that for each, they had to start by learning the basics, and sometimes the basics were the hardest part of all. So they start by learning the hard part. In dance, Ann said, they go to the barre...not the bar that we're all familiar with, but the French barre...as she spoke, Sonia came out in a simple black leotard, standing at the barre and doing plies (?? - I don't really know ballet). Then Brian said how in skating, they had to start with stroking and edges, and so they decided to put a little something together to show the audience how the worlds of skating and dance were so similar. At this point, Yuka skated out onto the ice and started doing edges, while Sonia was on stage doing barre exercises. Eventually, Brian joined Yuka and they mirrored each other doing some beautiful edges, and Sonia disappeared from the stage (I looked away, and some time later looked back, and she was gone). I *think* this was to Pachabel's Canon but I don't really remember...It was pretty.

Roca and Sur came out in their "Ghost" costumes, to something they skated in 1991 (according to Ally). It was a pretty program - lots of nice lifts and holds.

Then, Sonia and Rex came out on stage to dance...I didn't know the music, but enough people have said it was from the "Four Seasons" that I believe them =). They started off with Rex somewhat sprawled on the floor, while Sonia danced around him... it wasn't a fast dance, lots of held positions, but very pretty... eventually, Rex stood up and they started to dance together - several pretty lifts....they don't seem to hold one position in their lifts very often, he was often spinning her around... speaking of which, at one point that's exactly what they did... Sonia was on point, and Rex spun her around and around... I'm quite amazed at her balance =). The whole dance was really beautiful - I never watch ballet but I really enjoyed it.

Following their dance, Steven and Nicole came out in the ice with mikes, and the mike problem from earlier with Brian and Ann surfaced - the guy was a bit too loud, the girl almost impossible to hear. Anyway, they said something about how beautiful the previous dance was and then went on about interpreting music and dancing on ice... finally they said something about Kurt's Nyah program being brilliant...no jumps, no spins, just pure interpration....

Somehow, for the first time, I was more preoccupied trying to get pictures than watching Kurt's Nyah... as usual though, it was wonderful and very precisely done. He was wearing that tank top, rather than the long sleeve top he used in Simsbury at Emotion. Very nicely done =).

After Kurt, Josee skated to...?? in a red dress with one shoulder strap. I really can't remember much about it except that it was cute, and quite typically Josee. Then came Isabelle and Lloyd doing a typically high energy number with lots of fly high and say byes...

The next program was one of the reasons why this show was so cool =). Tommy Tune came out on stage singing, with hat and microphone. Then Brian came out with his own mike and hat, putting the one in the middle of the ice, and the other on top of it (I'll let you figure out which is which ;)). At first it was just Brian skating around to Tommy singing. Then Tommy started tapping, which was neat... but what was really cool was when Brian started dancing along with him... the rest of the number was the two of them doing the exact same moves and steps, Tommy Tune on stage, and Brian Orser on the ice... That was very cool to see... and really impressive =). One of the highlights of the evening.

Of course, for me, the true highlight came next. The stagehands or whatever started pushing this small stage out onto the left side of the ice. Then who else but Ed Robertson of BNL came walking out onto the stage with his guitar =). Lots of cheers and applause =). Then, out comes Kurt from the other side of the ice, miked, and talking.... he said something like "as a skater, I get inspiration from a lot of different sources. I get inspiration from dance, I get inspiration from other skaters, and sometimes, I get inspiration from the Barenaked Ladies" As he skates further down the ice..."hey! look at that, it's Ed Robertson from the Barenaked Ladies!" Then as he gets closer, he laughs and says "ok ok I knew he was going to be here." Then he starts talking about how a few years back, he and Ed thought it'd be neat to do something together, and they wrote a little piece of music...then he said "I don't know, Ed, how did that happen anyway?"...Ed said something like "I'm not sure, I was at your house, and I seem to remember something about Sonia not letting me have dinner until the song was finished." Then they said something about finally getting to do the program... Kurt made a comment on his shirt, saying either that as soon as they came out with the number, he'd been waiting for years to use the shirt, or that jef billings had been looking for years to find a place to use that shirt, and finally this was it.. the shirt was this kind of flashy red and orange and black button down - similar style to Antares shirt, only a lot busier and brighter. Finally, they started performing the number, with the two of them trading quips the whole time. I was busy laughing, taking pictures, and looking back and forth between Ed and Kurt, and therefore didn't catch all the choreography. I'm really hoping they'll put it on TV ;). However, I do remember Kurt doing a body slide at one point (his shirt slid up and I thought his back must be freezing) and a lot of cute footwork. At one point, Kurt's doing some choreography and he says "I've been told this is the sexy part. What do you think Ed?" and Ed replies "I thought *I* was the sexy part!" Kurt starts laughing and then says something like "Remind me never to get into a mike war with a member of the Barenaked Ladies"... at another point, Ed started hurrying up the beat and Kurt started skating more and more frenetically, until he tripped and stopped, holding his breath and breathing hard. Ed looked at him and stopped playing for a while, while Kurt just stood there with his hand on his back. Ed said something like "I just wanted to see if you could keep up, man" and Kurt was like "yeah. thanks for the break" before they started again. At one point, he's doing some moves, and says "I'm on Smuckers!!" since he's standing on the logo. I *think* it was in this number that he went to do a triple toe but fell... maybe it was in Am I the Only One... this number was just really really cute and the two were obviously having lots of fun, Kurt in particular. Ed was a bit restrained (if you've ever seen him in concert you'd know what I mean), seeming to try to make sure the spotlight remained on Kurt, even though Kurt kept tossing it back towards him =). There was a lot of funny bantering going on...a really enjoyable number. I'm really looking forward to seeing it on TV. ONe thing that I don't think made it on TV was the "Happy Birthday Ed" sign we made for him -we waved it long enough for him to see it and then put it away =). was his birthday the day before.

Then came a rather long intermission. When the intermission ended, the lights went down, and they just had a black light on the stage...six skaters in black stood on stage with white ice skates on their hands and they did a fairly neat dancey sort of thing where they moved the skates around in a synchronized manner... As the number ended, the skaters went off stage, and Ann Reinking, Tommy Tune, and Ben Vereen came out on stage, seating themselves on chairs in the middle of the stage while the announcer said "for the first time dancing together ever, Ann Reinking, Tommy Tune, and Ben Vereen!". This was quite neat - a bit of dancing history, right there in Kurt's show. The three of them sang, their voices blending together quite well, though Ben Vereen had a rather flashier voice. Ann has a fairly low husky voice. First the three just started off singing in their chairs, slowly changing poses and interacting, before they got up and started dancing together on stage. The choreography, to me, was slightly reminiscent of Fosse with less strange body bending. Lots of snapping. The funniest point for me is when they started singing something about hello mr. lamppost, with tommy tune standing straight with his back to the audience and ann and ben singing to him. I really enjoyed this number, and was glad that Kurt's special had brought them all together.

After the dance, Jason Dungjen and Yuka came out and did a nice pairs number. One thing I was struck by as I watched it was how clean and flowing Yuka's skating was..Jason is a very good skater but somehow Yuka looked completely effortless by him. I was very impressed by how well she's taken to pairs skating - they did some nice lifts and moves together. Though Jason fell on their side by side triple, they didn't retake it at the end. After Yuka and Jason came Renee and Gorsha, skating to their Aretha Franklin number. One thing that struck me as I watched this was that they like doing choreography where Renee pushes Gorsha away =). Here, and in Everything Must Change. Another nice number from them...I'm really going to miss them in SOI this year.

Then the energy in the arena cranked up considerably as Nicole stepped out to skate Music by Madonna. I can tell you that the guys in the audience really appreciated her costume and her dancing. I'm not a huge Madonna fan, but I think the music really suits Nicole.

After Nicole's number, the spotlight came up on Ed and Sonia sitting on folding chairs at the opposite end of the rink from the stage. They started chatting..Ed said something like "you know, I've been getting ready for the big finale, was practicing my triple (flip/lutz). what about you, are you ready?" Sonia was like "oh yeah, I was doing my triple loopy thing earlier"... then Ed said something about triple salchow, then was like "yeah actually I'm all about the low cal..." I think I missed some of what they said b/c Sonia's mike was way too quiet... But then she said something like "actually, we're paired together in the closing number, so you'd better be ready"...ed looked at her and then said "you know I was kidding about the closing number, right?" there was a little more banter, and then they said something to introduce Josee...it was just a cute little transition/segue... kind of cute to see Ed and Sonia interacting.

Josee's Harlequin number came next. I've never seen this one live, and I have to confess that I didn't really watch it on TV either. I was very impressed by it. Josee really captures the character, from facial expressions to body language. It was really enjoyable to watch.

Then.. "Kurt Browning and Ben Vereen!"... Ben came out on stage in black, with a black hat on, and started singing Mr. Bojangles, doing a little dancing, but mostly singing...he's got a nice, resonant voice... Anyway, he sang several verses before Kurt appeared on the other end of the ice in black pants, white shirt, black vest, and black hat. This was a fun number, with lots of great Kurt footwork. I think it was also during this number that Kurt landed the first of some gorgeous high double axels... I don't think he even tried for a triple axel Friday night, but his double axels... after reading about his knee injury I didn't expect at all to see that kind of air. They were simply gorgeous... Kurt and Ben also did a little mirror skating/dancing, but not as extensive as Brian and Tommy. Very fun number =).

Following this, Steven came out with that huge smile - I think the program was to Copacabana... very fun, very high energy, huge smile...and I remember thinking that Stars on Ice had been very good for his footwork. After Steven came Yuka, skating a beautiful solo program. I really can't remember much about her program.

Then, to my utter happiness, Ed comes out on stage again, and starts playing "Am I the Only One", while Kurt skates out with a silvery short sleeve shirt and black pants. I didn't watch Ed at all here, just Kurt, and I wasn't disappointed at all. Nice footwork, some great moves, beautiful double axels, and Kurt's spins have definitely improved. I need to see this program a few more times to really catch all of it ;).

The only standing ovation of the evening came next - Lloyd and Isabelle skating to She Bangs. Very very high energy, fast, lots of tricks... they did the spin where Lloyd holds Isabelle upside down as they spin around. Instant standing ovation, but to be perfectly honest, I didn't understand why they got standing ovations but no one else did..

Brian skated to "Sir Duke" next...I've seen this program a couple times before, and he did a nice job of it, as usual.

Last before the closing was Kurt and Sonia's number together. I had wondered how they'd do this. They started off with Sonia dancing on stage in a beautiful red dress, while Kurt skated on the ice... Then, Kurt stepped onto the stage and skated straight across it...surprising the heck out of me ;). The music went something like "close your eyes"... dreaming or flying..then later, "open your eyes"...sounded like a guy showing a girl wonders. Actually, it made me think of Aladdin, though the music didn't really sound like it... with the lyrics, Kurt would go up to SOnia and cover her eyes, or the opposite, and then skate around in front of her... Eventually, Jason and I think Lloyd came out and lifted Sonia by the arms, "flying" her across the ice... this was really pretty, the red dress between the two black outfits... you could really see how good Sonia's positions are - her feet were fully pointed, body about 90 degrees to her arms... she had this blissful happy look on her face too... they went through a number of different lifts, but instead of dismounting, they'd pass her from one to another... finally, she ended up in Kurt's arms, who first started off just carrying her in his arms, but then they started to do a number of simple lifts/holds/carries (whatever you call them when they're not over his head). Then Jason came along and swooped Sonia from Kurt's arms, and he and Lloyd did a few more carries with Sonia. Finally, she was returned to Kurt, where she actually stood on the ice (brrr!) and they ended up embracing. All in all it was a really sweet number and you could tell they were really happy to be skating/dancing together.

The closing was basically a reprise of the opening, again to Gotta Dance, with the skaters in the same outfits. They ended up doing a cast bow across the ice and the stage. However, the evening wasn't over yet. Kurt picked up a mike and skated out, saying stuff like "I'm so excited! I'm having so much fun, this has been so great. Do I know how to throw a party or what?" He stopped and looked up and noticed the people sitting in the top tiers (probably was about 1/3-1/2 full up there) and said "wow! there are people up there! thanks so much for coming!" and then went on to add something about especially when the times have been so confused in the last few weeks. He said he thought an evening like this was really important, a chance to make people smile again...he also thanked Lea Ann Miller, saying the evening would never have happened if it wasn't for her, and thanking her for her creativity, etc.... then he said something about us getting to see the real thing, but for TV, they got to see the polished, pretty version, so they were going to do some retakes. He asked us all to stay for the retakes, and lo and behold, no one left (or not enough that I noticed, unlike for CSOI). He talked for a little while longer before introducing Steven Cousins, proclaiming that he was single to the world ;). Steven looked a tad bit embarrassed at that. Steven came out and redid a few of his jumps, including the triple lutz, though there was a tad bit of confusion where he seemed to be goofing off, but then lea ann's voice came over saying "we're still rolling, you can keep going"... when she said that, we heard Kurt's voice (he was off to the side) saying "that was lea ann miller, ladies and gentlemen, give her a hand of applause." Brian and Yuka had to come out and redo some skating, b/c one of them stumbled either on a jump or a side by side move... I don't quite remember who else had to do retakes, but I can say that there was no music when they did them. In between some of the retakes, Ed came out onto stage, saying "ok, time for my retake. I messed up a jump. Not all jumps are on the ice, you know." then he went on to say something about how as a rock star, the rock star face was almost as important as everything else, and how he had missed one of his rock star faces earlier while he was performing. So he said, we're going to do a retake... my guitar is in its case backstage, but that doesn't matter, we're going to just do a closeup of my face while I do the rock star face. You guys will recognize it when I do it b/c it's really rock. Then he sets himself, and puts on this shut eye, pursed mouth, serious "rock star face", rocking his head back and forth as if he is playing music =). It was really cute, the audience was eating it up. As he walked away, Kurt said something like "you're invited to all my parties!" Finally, as they were waiting for the last skater to be ready (I think it was Steven again, or Brian - someoen who had already been out), Kurt came out again to talk some more. He looked around and said something like "wow you're all still here! thanks!"...also said something about knowing he missed a triple toe but he wasn't doing any retakes, he had landed a good one in rehearsal earlier that day (the crowd booed)..he was like, what, you want to see a triple toe? (the crowd cheered)...well, if you really want to see one..but i'm not in the right costume so this won't count... then he gave his mic to someone in the tunnel, and skated around to set himself up for the jump....did the jump, but had a wonky landing...he saved it by coming to an abrupt halt on one foot, and then he just stood there on the one foot, keeping his balance though acouple times he looked like he was about to pitch forward onto his face. Finally, he thanked us all for coming, and then thanked the sponsors "the people with the money", doing a nice impression of the AFLAC duck in the process ;). finally he said he was leaving us in the capable hands of the last skater. That skater (Brian or Steven?) went around, did his last jump, and then the show was over.

All in all, I have to say it was an exceptional show...several of the skaters did do old programs, but the new ones, especially those integrating the dancing and the skating, were very very cool. It was an amazing evening and a wonderful show, and I hope to see more like it from Kurt in the future... it definitely showcased his creativity =). Just an amazing night...

Remember, it's airing on Dec. 2 from 2-4PM EST on both NBC and Global TV (in Canada).

For some not wonderful shots of the show (I hadn't figured out my camera yet), go here.