Stars on Ice
Kurt List

Holiday Festival on Ice

Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, Kitchener, ON, Dec. 11, 2002

written by Hoo

Standard Disclaimer: As usual I was taking photographs so this is all from memory, no notes. Any mistakes in description are entirely by accident. Others may feel free to post this review to other lists so long as my name and email remain with it and you just let me know where you sent it.

Overall thoughts: Once again I am really glad I took the time out to make it up for this show. It's nice to see one of a kind holiday numbers from the various skaters, and this year the cast was heavy in the men who I like so that was a definite positive. Also I really think that Brian is becoming one of the better choreographers out there as his group numbers here were excellent. Hopefully none of the good stuff will get cut out when they air it all :)

Opening - "Joy To The World" (London Symphony Orchestra)
A nice opening with the men and ladies in red and white for a ncie Christmas feel. Plus it's a tune that really gets you right in the holiday mood from the start. Every skater got their feature trick, whether it was a spin or a jump and it all flowed really well from one to the other. Plus there were several unision pieces of footwork and I was impressed with the complexity of the steps and how everyone seemed to have it down nicely.

Shawn Sawyer - "Last Christmas" (Savage Garden)
This is another young Canadian skater who I really think has some great potential. He's definitely got that audience interaction down and the jumps seem pretty solid - we'll have to wait and see if he can attain the quad he needs to make it to the top, but I would think yes. And it's another case of some great spins, including a nice bielman. I really hope this makes the broadcast as it was excellently skated.

Ludmila Nelidina - "Last Opera" (St. Preux)
Judging by the set up of this program, this must be her short program from this year. She was in a pretty teal dress, and while her skating is still definitely on the junior level, she's got a nice presence on the ice.

Langlois & Archetto - "Happy Christmas" (Roch Voisin)
Ok, I know I enjoyed this program from the two of them, but I am drawing a blank on the elements. It was good though!

Jeff Buttle - "Angels" (Robbie Williams)
Now this was a program that I was thrilled to see again as it was one of the highlights of the Elvis tour for me. Jeff's just exudes this enthuasiam for his skating that it's a great joy to watch him skate. And it's wonderful to see someone pay so much eattention to their spins (are we sure this kid is a Doug Leigh student!?!) as he's got some great positions and spin. I like his variation on the A-frame spin as it looks much better than Sandhu's. This program also has some great spread eagles and spirals in it. Truly a joy to watch!

Angela Nikodinov - "Afternoon Of The Fawn" (DeBussy)
Having just seen this program to much disappointment at the Canadian Open, I was pleasantly surprised by Angela's version here. When she's not getting all nervous over the required jumps she can be very plesant to watch. And she does have a simply stunning layback :)

Grishuna & Goncharov - "Blue Danube Waltz" (Strauss)
This was their OD for this season and I really like that blue and white costume on her - very nice. One thing I did notice that I didn't seem to see on tv (or when I saw them at Skate Canada last year) is that they seemed *really* slow - to the point where I wanted to go out and push them along at times. But looking beyond the speed they did have a nice flow to this program and their dance spins were nice.

Brian Orser - "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" (Garth Brooks)
*Finally* I got to see Brian's Xmas number (last year he didn't do one) so I was really happy. He did the program in the pale creme "Somewhere In Time" second costume from CSOI, which isn't one of my favorites but with the snowflakes on the vest it worked. This is a nice program from Brian with some good footowork sequences in it and of course a great camel spin. His jumps (3toe, 3sal, 2axel, backflip) were all looking really solid.

Jennifer Robinson - "Amato Mia" (Pink Martini)
Ok, this title obiovusly means something, but Italian isn't my forte so if anyone can translate I'd appreciate it. Jen start the program by bringing out a kat racok with two coats, two hats and a purse on it. She's dressed in red. As the program progresses she puts on the black sweater, then the jean jacket and at the end puts on one hat before switching to the other and taking the purse. The program was very cute with some great sparkle from Jen.

Sale & Pelletier - "Santa Claus Is Back In TOwn"
Cute program from S&P that is another good vehicle for their personalities. Highlight was that great lift where she starts out overhead and then flips around til she's supporting herself on his outstretched arm - talk about a *wow* move!

Kurt Browning - "My Favorite Things" (Tony Bennett)
OK, I just saw this one at the Canadian Open and was really impressed by it, but it was even better here. Kurt updated the costume to black pants, a nice red button down shirt and even the package was now dolled up in silver paper and ribbon (though I think it was missing a bit no longer being a 'brown paper package all tied up with string') Kurt was even more comfotable integrating the package and he used it well. He's got a great Ina Bauer where he's got the box on top of his thigh with his elbow resting on top with hand at his chin - very cute! Plus he works it into the spins and he even manages his 2axels and 3toes with it in his hands. Kurt obviously put a lot of effort into this program and it was definitely showing! Kurt did take a fall on a flying spin which we knew meant retakes but when they broke for intermission the announcer asked people to wait as Kurt wanted to redo that part right then and there. Oddly you'd think it would have interrupted the flow of the show but it really didn't since there was the intermission break right after anyway.

Ensemble - "Christmas Canon" (Trans Siberian Orchestra)
*THE* highlight group number of the evening! It started with the most of the cast all in white lined up at the end of the rink and they then proceed to do these great big circles down the length of the ice so at the end it looks almost like there are three long lines of interconnected circles. I don't think I watched a face the entire program - just watching all those figures and long solid edges was just mesmerizing. And there was a nice section where Brian and Kurt break away and do a slow unision set of footwork down the ice and then circle around into solo axels with one arm overhead. It was really effective and there was just thsi great feeling of joy from the two of them to be doing this edgework. Bravo!

Nelidina - "Waltz Glamour" (Elenis Kapraindrou)
I'm normally not much for fabric props, but this worked well for her. She had on a light bluish/purplish dress that has a gauzy piece of pink fabric attached to the back of the neckline that she then interwove through the program. Very pretty. She ha d ajump bobble or two but I was impressed with her stage presence for a junior skater.

Buttle - "Lonely Christmas Eve" (Ben Folds)
Jeff's second number was more along the humorous lines and hsi costume was black pants and a black t-shirt with a glittry green Xmas tree on the back that then has the red circle with line through it over it. THe program was all about how there's to be no more Xmas because this guy is miserable. It was lots of good miming and humorous interactions with the audience. Plus more of those great spins, spread eagles and spirals.

Sawyer - "How Much Is The Fish" (Scooter)
This is the first program I ever saw Shawn do (Skate the Nation) and it was fun to see it again here. He's got such charm and high energy that this music suits him well. And of course there's the Bobek high spiral that he holds for a nice long edge. And it's another great spinner. I think he and Jeff could challenge each other nicely in that department as the years go on.

Langlois & Archetto - "Fly Me To The Moon" (Frank Sinatra)
This team is really just got the cute element covered perfectly and this music is a good match for them. Really nice high lifts and an excellent death spiral. What's nice is that the personality is shared evenly between the two and they interact so well together.

Nikodinov - "Just For You" (Giovanni)
Other than her old but really pretty sparkly teal costume I can't recall much about this program as it had a GFB to the whole thing. It was nicely skated though.

Orser - "Hallelujah" (Jeff Buckley)
I think every time I see this program from Brian it moves higher and higher up on my list of favorite programs. It's slow passionate feel suits Brian to a tee. Also I am happy to report that it was choreographed by Ann Shelter and you can tell Brian is very comfortable with her sense of movement. The program had the usual great jumps, including the open axel at the beginning, but it's really all about the in betweens in this program. Lots of nice spins and bits of footwork and body movement that really suit Brian.

Robinson - "Jingle Bells" (Ella Fitzgerald)
Another spunky number from Jen with her in a glittery green dress and she got lots of audience interaction throughout her skating. She had a few wobbly landings, but it really didn't mar the program all that much. And I was impressed to see her throw a few illusion spins into her one combo spin :)

Grushina & Goncharov - "Ablenone" (Laura Fabian)
This program had them all in black and was sort of an abstract sort of piece. There were several nice lifts and dance spins in it.

Browning - "How Do You Keep The Music Playing" (Tony Bennett)
Here's another program that's really all about the in betweens in the program. I saw it's potential in Lake Placid but didn't think it was performed as it could have been, but here the program was definitely out in all its' glory. The great footwork, spirals, spread eagles, ina bauers, camel spins, and just about everything else were stunning in this program. The jumps were almost secondary elements that just sort of flowed in the program - it was all the other stuff that really caught your attention. And thankfully he's improved the costume a bit, it's still that light blue sweater but now it's teamted with plain gray pants instead of the olive ones - and it's a great improvement :)

Sale & Pelletier - "Come Fly With Me" (Michael Buble)
Another program here that was much better than at Lake Placid, and this time I can remember it too! There are several cute moments to the lyrics of "once I get you up there" that feature a lift of some kind. There was a nice platter(?) lift where David just ends up carrying her along in that position for the longes time it seems. Very cute number and I think that as they grow into it it's going to really sparkle more and more each time.

Finale - "The Amens / Winter Wonderland / Sleigh Ride / Jingle Bells" (Brian Setzer Orchestra)
A nice high energy number from the cast with the them in the Moulin Rouge leather pants with red shirts for the men and red sparkly dresses for the ladies. It was a finale that had lots of things going on all the time at various points of the ice which matched the high tempo music well. At one point one of the lyrics are about building a snowman who's a clown and they stick the red nose on Kurt who then does the comic flop from Raggy :) And Brian and Shawn do a nice matching set of backflips. It was an excellent high energy way to end the show and it definitely left you in the holiday spirit :)

Misc. News - Other bits from the weekend:
Steven Cousins - He did have his surgery for the ACL injury in Toronto and the surgery went very well - the doctors didn't find anything worse than the tear and the prognoisis is good. So that's a definite plus!

Brian Orser did indeed choreograph Takeshi's new interpretive free, however it was not the program that was shown on television. Brian said it was the music he worked on, but that most of the stuff he and Ann Shelter (who I gather Takeshi went to for some acting tips for the program) worked on weren't in the program and there wasn't a lot that Brian recognized as his. And he put Jenn's IF together in just a day of working with her and plans to have her come back for some more additions to the program so I'm guessing it's going to be a tour number for her.