Holiday Festival on Ice
Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, Kitchener, ON, Dec. 11,
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
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
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.