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Improv on Ice 1999 Review

written by Tina

I had the luck to see Improv on Ice live at Worcester, MA on Dec. 2, 1999 and all I can say is, Improv was FREAKING AWESOME!! I'm sure those of you who could, saw it live, and it was a great show on TV (i noticed they were giving interviews and stuff that we couldn't hear), but it was amazing live... I had so much fun! I'm so glad I decided to go to this show! I started off taking notes but I realized I was watching so fervently and using my camera so much that I wasn't remembering to write anything down, and I figured since you all could see it live, it wouldn't matter anyway =).

Wendy and I went as soon as we could get in when the doors opened at 7, and to our delight, we found that the skaters were practicing on the ice. =) The ladies were out first, and Wendy and I went to sit in the second row (not the row we actually had tickets in) to watch and munch on french fries (were too sheepish to actually take out the sandwiches and dig in =) ). We didn't take any pictures b/c we were afraid the cameras would be confiscated or something, but had a great deal of fun watching Katia, Nicole, Surya, Lu Chen, and Caryn Kadavy skating around and practicing (Katarina was nowhere to be seen). Then the ladies cleared the ice and the men stepped on! Kept my eyes mostly on Kurt during practice, but watched the other men too =). Kurt spent most of the practice listening to the music on his CD player (he held the CD player low, and we were trying to get pictures of him where it didn't look like he was grabbing his crotch), practicing facial expressions, footwork, stuff like that. Spent a lot of time just standing in place listening to music. At one point, some girls in the corner asked him for an autograph and he said no, but was kind enough to explain that if he signed one it'd just escalate and he'd have to sign everyone's.

During this warmup, all the guys were landing beautiful jumps. Elvis was footworking all over the place and spent a lot of time on our side of the ice, actually, which was very cool =). At one point, Rudy Galindo had his sister's baby, and Michael Weiss had his baby and they were skating around the ice with them after each other. Very very cute - scariest was when Rudy was tossing the baby into the air - actually leaving his hands... Then, (I didn't see the beginning of it) but somehow Kurt ended up being carried around by Alexei for a bit before Alexei dropped him on the ice =). It was very very cute. I wanted to get a picture of it but it was on hte other side of the ice, and Wendy (who had the camera with the zoom) didn't see it....

Then the show started... I'm actually rapidly losing my impressions of the individual programs, but I figure since half of you (the American half - sorry Canadians!) saw it anyway, that's okay ... I definitely want to go back and watch the telecast anyway... btw my biggest impression of the entire evening was that you couldn't tell they were improv-ing anything (except the closing numbers =) )... the numbers were beautiful, full of connecting steps, little touches, etc... these skatesr should do their own choreography more often! =)

I think Katia was first, and she skated to a country song by Reba McEntire... she was beautiful - two footed one jump, but that hardly mattered... it was a lovely program.

Then came Surya skating to Barbra Streisand... pretty exciting program, fun... of course I'm never that impressed by Surya so I can't say much else.

Chen Lu came after that - she seemed to be borrowing a lot from Black Magic Woman - lots of "sexy" vamping and stuff...

Katarina Witt followed with "Going to the Chapel of Love" and that was the HIGHLIGHT of the women's competition. Can you guess why? She pulled Kurt onto the ice with her =). She started off skating in the center of the ice, got this look on her face like "no no no!", ran off the ice.. a few seconds later, she's pulling Kurt onto the ice after her... =) so for the first 1/4 of her program, Kurt's goofing around on the side of the ice. He's dancing around to the music, waving frantically at her when she spread-eagles by (she waves back - if anyone watching the telecast was wondering what she was waving at, that's it)... working up his courage to go to her, etc... it was the cutest thing ever. Finally he acts fed up and walks away - I wasn't sure if this was correlated but she acts all upset at that exact moment (Wendy thought she had forgotten her program, I thought she was upset at Kurt leaving)... it was great though. Very funny, very cute program.

Then came Caryn Kadavy - I can't remember this program at all but I think she did well to it. Last was Nicole Bobek skating to a rock number... she did an excellent job to this, I thought, played to the audience really really well. I was very impressed.

The ladies weren't done at this point though. It was Katarina's b-day and they brought out Joey McIntire - on hockey skates - to sing to her... then he sang another song (forget which) to whicih all the ladies, one by one, went out and skated to... the funniest thing, I thought, was while Surya was preparing to go out and skate, Joey McIntire was behind her and he was kind of bending down and looking around/up at her (cant' describe) and she completely ignored him. The other girls were playing to him, etc, but she totally ignored him =). That was lots of fun - I'm not a big Joey McIntire fan (was impressed - his voice is better than I thought) but it was kind of cool to have him there singing live while they were skating =).

After the ladies came the pairs... I didn't catch the warmup or the beginning part of Kazakova and Dmitriev's program b/c I ran out to the ladies room... I don't recall what any of them skated to, but I was overall very impressed by their ability to improvise and stay in sync... Kazakova and Dmitriev were lovely, dramatic... actually I odn't remember which pairs were which - one of them had lots of tricks and not much in between,m but the rest were great...

After the pairs skated, Robin Cousins came out for what was supposed to be his last US live appearance ever...and he skated to Joey McIntire singing live... lovely program, Robin Cousins really is quite amazing... this was a highlight of the evening...

Then the men came out!!! (can you guess what event I like watching the most in a skating event? =) ) Kurt once again had his earphones and CD player on, and was mainly working on some bits of footwork, etc... the other men were outdoing each other with the jumps. It was all really cool to watch. A funny Kurt bit: at the end of the warmup, the loudspeaker guy said "a minute and a half to clear" and Kurt started to run around the ice, hurriedly rushing through his steps and setting up for his jumps and the loudspeaker guy was like "we have to give Kurt every possible minute" or something like that =). Just Kurt hamming it up again =).

I didn't write this down so I don't remember at all the order the guys skated to =). I think Michael Weiss was first...I've completely forgotten what he skated to... it was pretty good, whatever it was =). Then came Rudy Galindo, who was very Rudy, but skated very enthusiastically and energetically...

Then came Kurt! Kurt came out in his Here I Am suit, and I immediately knew it couldn't be a serious program... he was introduced as skating to classical harmonica music... but Kurt being Kurt, he immediately started hamming it up...doing parodies of moves, like a spiral almost completely standing still ... over-dramatic footwork, moves, little tiny crossovers, etc.... he had me laughing out loud... I've never ever laughed out loud at a skating program before, including Rag-Gidon-Time (which I've never seen live - might make a big difference)... but Kurt's facial expressiosn (which we watched him practice), body language, everything,r eally sold the program. He got the only standing ovation of the evening (for an improvising skater - Robin Cousins got ovations).

Following Kurt was Philippe, who took Kurt's energy and played it to the hilt...and amazingly enough, his shirt stayed on the whole program. He did have an extended bit of audience member-molesting, but overall this program wasn't half bad =). Then came Alexei Yagudin, who's a lot funnier than I thought he was. The program itself was smooth country music, but at one point, eh went to do a triple axel (i think), fell rather hard, and instead of popping up right away, crawled around the ice for a whiel acting agonized...it was very funny... i have to say something about all these skaters - they k now how to sell a program all the way. After Alexei was Elvis, whose program I don't remember but I think I really enjoyed.

The evening wasn't over yet though! Now came the grand finale - the skaters were divided into two groups, and each had to come up with a grand group finale to a song from Austin Powers. Kurt was the captain of the first group...it was fun watching them trying to go over the number (They had come up with it in an hour practice in the morning)... they said that Kurt was miked and the audience at home could hear everything he was saying (we couldn't)... finally their number started and I really enjoyed it... it was creative and different, even though there were moments of disorganized chaos =). The highlight of this number was at the end when one of the male pairs skaters lifted Katarina Witt in a Detroiter (??)... especially impressive since i think she was about his size!

Then the second group came on - their number had a lot more tricks in it, lots of individual skaters going out and doing their stuff with the other skaters doing not much on the side.. the audience was very taken in by the tricks though (although the skating had little to do with the music, unlike the first group) and they voted for the second group as the winner. =( ah well it was all in good fun... also interesting to see what a group of like 10-11 skaters can put together in an hour =).

But the evening still wasn't over! They brought out Cindy Stewart (??) to come out and skate the number with Robin that they did on StarSkates On Broadway... they gave him a commercial break to re-remember the choreography- he was very funny, acting like he didn't remember anything, etc... but when they actually started the program was amazing...those two had great rapport, coordination and timing to the music - it was an incredibly enjoyable program, wonderful to see live.. we were so happy =)...

after the skating ended (i don't remember the details of what happened between robin and cindy's program and that), wendy and i rushed to the side and bottom near the stage to get autographs, but kurt booked out of the arena before we even got there, and most of hte other skaters left without signing anything. joey mcintire was skating around and signing autographs, but when he got to our side, robin cousins was there too, and in deciding between joey mcintire and robin cousins in his final us appearance, robin cousins won hands down =). so now i have robin cousins' autograph on the front of my improv program (unforutnately i gave him a new pen so it wasn't 100% ink-friendly)....yay! =)

At this point we decided to go outside to look for more skaters. After making a circuit of the rink (where we saw in a window that a reception was occuring but didn't see any skaters), we ended up on a corner ... wendy and kate were looking around and i noticed this couple walking down the street towards us, holding hands with the guy towing a little tow-along suitcase... i immediately thought "that's ilia and katia!" but wendy and kate weren't responding so i figured maybe i was wrong..when they got closer though, i started whispering "wendy! isn't that...???" when finally they noticed them. by this time, they were about 10 feet away from us, talking to each other, etc... Wendy said "hello" not too loudly - not sure if htey heard us, but they just crossed the street and went into the parking garage... leaving us behind going "that was ilia! and katia! ack!"... i have to say..they looked so cute together... that is one good-looking couple, and katia looked really happy, really content... it was almost like a perfect picture of a couple, and i'm kind of glad we didn't interrupt them..it was nice to see them together like that...

after bumming around on that corner for 45 minutes, we decided to move around the building to see what we could see, only to discover that the door we STARTED at was the one that people were coming out of... and that we had already missed a bunch of skaters (there were two other people out there waiting)... we waited there for another hour and a half, and got Nicole Bobek and Philippe Candelero's autographs, while ogling other skaters coming out, staring in the windows, and chatting...at one point a crowne plaza hotel shuttle was taken into and then let out of the bay area, and we're pretty sure that lloyd and isabelle, and one of the other couples left in that shuttle...there is a possibility that kurt snuck out in it (the windows were all tinted), b/c the two women who were there had been there all night and never saw him, and neither did we...and philippe told us (around 1:30 am) when he left that kurt wasn't there anymore... so sadly, we didn't get to see kurt this time =(. still, waiting 2 hours outside the centrum centre was fun, with people to chat with and a party to watch =).

I have to say, this was one amazing awesome wonderful great fun exciting etc etc etc evening! Even if I fail my test tomorrow, it will have been worth it... I'm so happy! =)