Stars on Ice
Kurt in SOI
Creative Team

Stars on Ice Review - San Diego, CA - Jan. 14, 2005

written by Tina

It's interesting seeing shows from more than one arena. It's not just a matter of seeing the show more than once, from different angles. There are also logistical differences at work. For instance, every arena seems to have its tunnel in a different location. San Jose has a tunnel in the middle of the end. San Diego has the tunnel on the left corner, which means that the skaters have to be able to adapt to starting their programs and the transitions from a different spot on ice. Also, in San Jose, there are a number of different places where the skaters can enter the ice from, so when the lights were down before the opening number, the skaters entered the ice from all sides, creating this cool illusion of skaters just appearing from all over. In San Diego, there is only the one tunnel, so the skaters were forced to just come out en masse from there and spread out, which seemed to cause them to stay closer to the end with the little stage-y thing than they did in San Jose. Since the lights stay down during the opening number for quite a while, though, this still worked b/c you still just saw the dark impression of skaters on the ice, without detail, before the lights came up.

A quick note, before I get into the rest of the review, on my seat - this time around, I opted for closer to the ice but consequently closer to the corner, which meant I was in the 1st row in the section closest to the corner without actually being on the corner, on the same end of the rink as the tunnel, on the opposite side. So, I was in good position to see the things right by the tunnel (such as several of the magic tricks, and Alexei's acrobatics), but not such a good position to see the bulk of the programs, which were choreographed to face away from the tunnel, and thus with the skaters' backs to me. I was also futzing quite a bit with my camera, since the angle was pretty bad, which means I may have missed things from time to time.

Opening Number - Pure Imagination (Willy Wonka) - Cast

Unlike in San Jose, where Ilia did not appear in the opening number, and in fact, didn't appear at all until his first number, Kurt (the guest star in San Diego) did skate in the opening number. I'm guessing it's because he was there during Lake Placid rehearsals and thus had time to learn all the choreography and get integrated into the opening number. I do wonder how much adjustment it requires the other skaters to leave room and adjust for the additional skater, since on the nights when he's not there, they can't very well leave a big gap. The insertion was mostly smooth, with Kurt doing some footwork and other solo work around while the other skaters were doing their various tricks - there is one portion of the choreography where each skater/pair breaks into individual tricks so everywhere you look, someone is doing something different. I don't find this opening number particularly distinctive, unlike, say, a Strobe's Nanafushi, but it works well to build up excitement for the show, as well as to establish the theme, and was a good introduction to the diverse skills of the various cast members. Over the course of this evening, I increasingly noticed that marketing around Sarah Hughes aside, this show is definitely centered far more around Todd Eldredge, and to a lesser extent, Sale & Pelletier, than Sarah. Sarah gets one number where she's highlighted to open the second act, but otherwise she doesn't get the money position right at the end - she's in the middle of the first act and second to last in the second and the group numbers, "Mr. Blue Sky" aside, do very little to highlight her.

Let Me Entertain You (Robbie Williams) - Todd Eldredge

As is typical of the end of Stars on Ice opening numbers, each of the skaters is announced (with the exception of Kurt, who skates off the ice, and Todd, who also leaves the ice early in order to change into his costume) to do a bow at center ice (and can I say I'm very happy they didn't continue the experiment of the skaters saying their own names?). When they reach Todd, who's announced last, he's standing on the little platform stage with a wand in hand, which poofs, and he steps down to start his program. One thing I tend to notice about Todd when I try to photograph him from near the ice, which I noticed less when I was sitting further up in the stands, is how fast he skates. And how he rarely stops. It's non stop motion all over the rink (he gets good ice coverage) and it's a lot of very beautiful jumps. Todd's jumps are lovely, and so effortless. Unfortunately, I can't identify most of them b/c I'm crappy at identifying jumps to begin with, and he skates in the opposite direction. But there is definitely a variety of them. This number requires Todd to be very audience-interactive, which he's getting very very good at - his facial expressions are spot on, and his eye contact is good. My only complaint about this particular number is that a lot of it is choreographed away from the tunnel, so I got his back or him all the way at the other end of the rink far more than in most of the other programs of the evening. There's a moment of choreography partway through the song that really reminded me of Alexei, for some reason, where Todd stops, looks into the audience, raises his hands, and does that come on, come on motion to get cheers, which was slightly jarring b/c it's not a motif I associate with Todd. But this was a fun, fast way to start the show.

Naughty Girl (Beyonce) - Yuka Sato

As Todd skates off the ice, Kyoko skates on and around, before stepping into her magic screen (manned by Anton at the back and David and Steven holding the two ends closed) and doing her quick change. I still haven't determined exactly how she's doing the trick (you'd think from the side I could tell if she passed the dress through the crack to Anton in the back), but I suspect she's either handing it backwards or maybe tucking it into a wall of the screen. Either way, the transition to a new colored dress evokes a gasp from the crowd, which is a lot of fun. In fact, I've come to the conclusion after seeing two shows that this year's show gets more gasps from the audience than any other year I've seen so far. The magic tricks get them everytime, but the choreography at times also evoked a few gasps. More on that later.

At any rate, after Kyoko's change, Yuka skates onto the ice, the two essentially do a skating choreographic handoff (skate towards each other, turn, skate away), and Yuka sets up her positioning for "Naughty Girl" - practically right in front of me, as it turns out. This program is really growing on me. Yuka's natural cuteness helps, but IMO she's actually starting to really get into the choreography as well, putting a bit more attitude and freeness into her movements that fit the music style better than her typical elegance. Which is not to say she lacks the elegance and grace - I don't think she's capable of losing it. But which is to say that she's not doing an incongruously pretty program to some not-that-pretty music. And I always admire her jumps for being as effortless and light as they are, as well as the speed of her spins and neatness of her footwork. Yuka's just fun to watch, and such an excellent skater.

Gypsy woman Jamie comes out to transition from Yuka's program to I/Z's program. Jamie really plays the role to a hilt, exaggeratedly mouthing the voice over the loudspeaker and totally working the body language when she admonishes the person in the audience for sneaking down instead of paying for the seats. This time I remember what she says when she realizes the ball is the property of the Ice Capades - she sees great things for this audience, an exciting show, filled with lots of entertainment, etc, and 12 Smurfs, which takes her aback and makes her realize that the ball comes from the Ice Capades. As she skates off in disgust, Kyoko and John enter the ice.

Harder to Breathe (Maroon 5) - Kyoko Ina & John Zimmerman

I could tell that Kyoko and John were total hits with the audience. They got a fairly good cheer to begin with and there were definitely people in the audience who knew them (yelling whoo hoo! John!, etc), but by the end of the evening, the crowd gave them a huge cheer during the final bows. This program went a long way towards converting people to fandom. My bf, who's not particularly a skating fan, commented on this program in particular afterwards, so you know this program has a general appeal. I think it helps that both Kyoko and John are good at throwing themselves into the energy and choreography of the program with complete abandon, and the charisma to carry off the choreography. It also helps a great deal that these two are evolving into very exciting trick skaters, pulling off any number of moves that make the crowd gasp and ooh and ahh. The fly high and say bye draws out a rising gasp from the crowd like nothing I've heard before (and he seems to totally fling her into it), as well as some of the exciting upside down dismounts and lifts and throws. This is an exciting, fun program to some great music, and I really like it a lot.

Jitter Bug (Harry Connick, Jr.) - Kurt Browning

I don't think there was a transition into the next program. Instead, Kurt comes out with his toybox and a "Math for Skaters" pamphlet (6 + 0 = 6.0) to start his "Jitter Bug" program. Kurt's obviously been working on this number a bit, and it works a great deal better in show conditions than it did in competition. He really plays the character of the guy who doesn't want to fix the leaky pipe to the hilt, evoking laughter from the audience in his facial expressions, body language, and actions. I still don't think this concept is good enough for a 2-part and it was a little bit too much of the same thing by the second number, but the first number was a lot of fun to watch. Kurt's opening part is longer than it was at Ice Wars, establishing him really studying the pipe, adding this whole portion where you hear it drip, drip, drip (as his head follows each drip down to the ice), then when he kicks at it, producing a different sound, which he looks perplexed and surprised at, testing it out by kicking it a few more times (with the same result) and then giving up and putting his fireman's hat under the leak. Then he looks at the pipe, looks at the wrench in his hand, looks at the toybox, and then makes an obvious decision to forego the wrench in favor of digging into the toybox. I think one thing that made me like these incarnations of these programs better than in Ice Wars is that he seems to have reduced the amount of time spent digging into the box, and increased the amount of skating he does with each item. The "Jitter Bug", when it comes down to it, is an impressive collection of footwork with jumps out of absolutely nowhere (and I really mean that - I don't mean footwork, pause on edge, jump, I mean turn turn step step, turn, jump, turn..whoa did I really see a jump in there?).

Prop-wise, he starts off placing a fireman's hat upside down under the leak to collect the water (with the corresponding change in sound effect). He then goes through a windmill, a slingshot, skates with an orange hockey puck under his toepick (people around me couldn't recognize what it was, and I think he actually did more elaborate skating on it, including putting his entire weight onto it, than when he used the puck at the beginning of Skating a few years back) and puts on a red cape and a spiky orange wig thing on, totally goofing off and really getting into it, when Sonia's voice comes back on, telling him she's on her way home, causing him to freak out, tear off the wig and cape, grab his wrench, and start examining the leak hastily again. I think one of the reasons I like "The Jitter Bug" more than "Super.." these days is because there's actually a lot less prop work in it, and a lot more just footwork. Though the prop work in "Super.." is pretty impressive. At the close of this program, they announce 4-time World Champion, Canadian Champion, Kurt Browning (who's busily picking up his props), and the audience clearly was happy to see him.

TKO (Genesis) - Steven Cousins, Todd Eldredge, David Pelletier, Alexei Yagudin, John Zimmerman

As Kurt skates off the ice, Anton comes on and shows off his magic trick (I've forgotten what it was - I think maybe it was just a flower blooming from a wand), and then Yuka shaking her head, handing him an end of a scarf, and then continuously pulling out a long string of knotted scarves (with this odd attitude - she seemed quite snotty about it), as he skated further and further away, finally ending up in the tunnel, from which Steven emerged as Yuka started pulling her scarves back in. She reels him totally in, grabs the scarves, and skates off, as Steven sets up in opening position.

Having seen this show twice, I have to say that while they're cute the first time around, I'm not overly fond of the all-guys program or the all-girls program of the show. They're fine, and reasonably enjoyable, but they're just too stylized self-consciously cutesy in a way that I associate with Christopher Dean for my taste. At any rate, this program is, as you may be able to tell from the name, based around boxing, of sorts. It opens with Steven doing a carefully executed series of punches in time to the opening drumbeats, before he starts moving down the ice, deliberately slowly punching and kicking into the air. He's joined by David, who moves through the whole sequence of punching/kicking/turning choreography, and the two of them are joined by the other three. This program has a lot of punching each other out in turn, and variations on punching people out. For instance, at one point David and Steven kind of straddle each other, forming a 4-legged table, and skate towards the other three, who have punched Todd out, picked him up, and draped him over the David/Steven table. For some reason, the audience gasped and went "Oh my God!" when the five guys line up, link up, and start dropping one by one down the ice. I have no idea why this was so stunning, but they seemed to enjoy it, as well as enjoy John's victory dance, and Steven sucker punching David at the end to remain the last man standing.

Raindrops Will Fall (Tamyra Gray) - Sarah Hughes

I think maybe as Sarah is performing this number more, she's getting a bit more comfortable with the choreography, b/c I felt like her skating to the bluesy music felt a bit more natural and nice than it had in San Jose. This is a pretty nice program. It's kind of interesting when Sarah lands her double jumps, because the audience doesn't really cheer, much in the same way that audiences hesitate to cheer an accidentally doubled jump by another skater. I wondered if the audience thought she was going for a triple and doubled, rather than realizing that she just does doubles these days. From what I remember of her Olympic program, her jumps are a lot lower now as well, but her spins are still quite nice. Both of Sarah's program seem to feature a lot of her doing spirals (but not particularly long ones, just sequences of them) and spins.

The transition here had Todd come out with a big bunch of flowers for Sarah, and then start picking whole flower blossoms off as a child's voice comes over the loudspeaker going "She loves me...she loves me not. She loves me...She loves me not." Inevitably, the last blossom left poor dejected (head hanging, arms drooping) Todd on "she loves me not", but then Sarah made a whole new batch of dark flowers bloom, causing Todd to do the cutest leap into the air, happily realizing that "She loves me!".

If I Could - Elena Berezhnaya & Anton Sikharulidze

This is just a beautiful program. Elena and Anton really capture the romantic, semi-wistful nature of the music, skating with a smooth elegance and a lot of emotion. This program had a lot of what I consider to be their "signature" moves (ie the ones I've seen them do frequently in the very short time I've watched them), such as when Elena does a split on Anton's back as he does a spiral, the side by side spirals, the spin they do where Anton is upright and has a leg draped over Elena, who's doing a bent-kneed camel spin... They also had their awesome throw whatever (sorry, I'm no good at identifying pairs jumps - not really any good at identifying singles jumps either ;)) where Anton seems to fling Elena across the state, and their nice high throw whatever-twist. These two are just beautiful skaters, and this program showcases them nicely.

Radar Love (Golden Earring) - Jamie Sale & David Pelletier

The transition to this program was fairly simple - the haunting instrumental notes of "Mad World" (the Gary Jules version) came over the loudspeaker as Jamie and David came and skated around the corner, and Elena and Anton skated in a corresponding circle, they passed, holding their arms out to each other, and then Elena and Anton left the ice as Jamie and David set up for Radar Love.

Radar Love is a complete contrast to If I Could, an upbeat, high energy, attitude-driven number that's far more about the cool and a sort of almost challenging attitude between Jamie and David, rather than the melting towards each other romanticism of Elena and Anton. I found the choice of program deployment to be interesting - each pair did one fast, upbeat, rock number, and one slow, dramatic number, but not in the same act as each other. This invited, IMO, less comparison between the pairs and also stirred things up so it wasn't just more of the same between pairs numbers. I quite like Radar Love. I think Jamie and David have a degree of excitement, charisma, and showmanship in their skating that makes them a great deal of fun to watch, and which really draws the audience in. Jamie, especially, just invites the audience in with her knowing glances and huge smile. They seem to be having the time of their lives. I was also struck in this show by the variety and difficulty of their lifts. Most pro pairs teams that I'm accustomed to seeing just do the one or two lift positions, but Jamie and David do very long, sustained lifts where Jamie changes position considerably over the course of the lift. For example, there's the one where she starts off draped over David's hand, he rotates her until her hands are on his arm, and they switch into the handstand lift. Requires a lot of strength on both their parts, I would think. Fun program.

Passion (Peter Gabriel) - Alexei Yagudin

This was probably one of the cuter, funnier transitions of the night where John, Steven, Kyoko, and Sarah try to hypnotize the audience into buying merchandise and ignoring Alexei setting up for his Passion program on the other side of the ice. The four wear the red satiny transition costumes with red turbans on the two guys' heads, and swing long chains with watches or pendants on the end, and seem to have the tendency to put themselves to sleep. Skating-wise, there's not much to it, but conceptually, the audience really enjoyed it. And Steven has the cutest smile on his face where he's nodding and going, yes, buy merchandise, yeah.

From where I was sitting, I got a really good view of Alexei's aerial acrobatics, and I've revised my opinion on the danger level of what he's doing. He does very carefully and deliberately set up each of his moves, so he's minimizing the danger with caution, but there are a few times where if his grip slips, he is in quite a bit of danger of falling (of course, he does seem to be gripping very very tight). And climbing all over the sheet with his skate blade - I just hope that, not only is it very strong material, that they check it daily, b/c I'd think the repeated stress would start to wear on the material. From a move standpoint, one thing that struck me up close is how *not* smooth some of Alexei's transitions are - you can see the effort when he reaches up to grab the sheet and pull himself up along it. It's a very striking visual effect, but I do wonder if it could be shortened - he repeats a few moves, or a few of them seem very similar, and it'd probably reduce the strain on his arms if he did it for a shorter amount of time. At any rate, the audience definitely did seem very impressed by this, and it did look quite cool.

What's funny is that the acrobatics in this program overshadow the skating in my memory. As I recall, the skating was good, with Alexei doing quite a lot of footwork and some nice jumps, though possibly not that long. It's a good program in general, but I can't recall the specifics at the moment.

The Ride of a Life (The Who medley) - Cast

The closing number of Act I, a medley of Who songs, begins with Todd and David skating out, fiddling with a tattered umbrella that they "magically" fix into a whole umbrella. The two congratulate each other and then skate happily to join the rest of the skaters, who are lined up in pairs in rows, as in on a rollercoaster, ready to go. The beginning part of this is cute, with the skaters simulating the jerky motion of the safety bar coming down, the ride starting up, and the bounciness as the rollercoaster car climbs the first hill, with the skaters looking around with appropriately anticipatory or apprehensive looks. And then it's into the "whoo!" as they go up and down over the hills. This number is fun, and the music works really well with it. There are some neat choreographic things in here, like the circle where the girls are upside down with a leg in the air, with four guys holding their hands and Alexei and Todd in the middle each supporting a girl's foot (while Sarah skates around outside the group). Todd, Anton, and David skate together for a while for the "Behind Blue Eyes" section, which has some odd bits where they're alternately supporting each other as they bend each other backwards to the ground, as well as some cute choreography to the "bad man, sad man" parts of the lyrics. This number also features the unusual (but cute) pairing of Steven and John, who goof off together and then skate with Elena and Jamie. It's the closing of this number which really provides its dramatic and visual punch, though, with all the skaters except Kyoko and John breaking out their umbrellas, while Kyoko and John skate dramatically around them, in the rain that has magically started pouring from overhead. This provided the audience an "ooh" moment, as did Kyoko's dramatic costume change and lift into one of the spouts of water. A very cool closing to an otherwise cutesy group number.

Todd came out at the end of the first act to tell the audience that intermission was here and encourage them to listen to the weather report b/c even though it's San Diego, you never know what might happen. During intermission, we were treated to a series of "weather reports" from goofy commentators who forecasted snow and other such stuff.


This review is getting way too long, so I'm going to try to say less for most of the programs now.

Mr. Blue Sky (Electric Light Orchestra) - Sarah Hughes, Steven Cousins, Todd Eldredge, David Pelletier, Alexei Yagudin, John Zimmerman

Act II opened with a pretty cute and light group number that featured Sarah Hughes and a bunch of the guys. I didn't really pick up on the theme before but I guess this number, which features the guys skating around with umbrellas for a while before furling them up, is supposed to indicate the sun coming out after the rain at the end of the last act. Sarah seems very very happy to be skating with all these guys, and her smile suits the bright spotlight following her and the sunnier nature of the song and the choreography. It's a cute number that gives her the chance to briefly skate around each of the guys, as well as be lifted by all of them in a split, and gives the guys a chance to be kind of goofy backup skaters, skating in tandem in their red bowler hats and shiny costumes.

Amazing Grace (Hayley Westenra) - Yuka Sato

This program really showcases Yuka's grace on the ice, her beautiful positions, feather soft skating, and wonderful musicality. It's a program that completely suits her and is a real joy to watch. Thankfully, she's picked a version of the song that doesn't overdo the vocal histrionics, which helps add to that beautiful feel to the program. Just a lovely Yuka program.

Come Back to Bed (John Mayer) - Steven Cousins

I don't quite remember the transition to this program, but it seems David and Anton come out and do some magical tricks (I think there may even be a voiceover of some sort) and then Steven emerges, shirtless and looking for his shirt, only to have Sarah toss it to him. He skates around for a bit, trying to straighten out and put the shirt on, and then as soon as the shirt gets over his head, the music starts up and his program begins.

Upon reviewing I have to say that I actually really like this program. It's one of Steven's more serious programs, despite the shirtless beginning, and through facial expression and body language, he really evokes the emotion and angst of the piece. Steven doesn't have the quick, light, or incredibly varied footwork of a Kurt or an Alexei, but he does do footwork that works for the tempo and feel of the program, and IMO, pulls out different choreographic moves that suit the music, and aren't reminiscent of his other programs, as I've seen him accused of. The shirtlessness may cater to the ladies in the audience, but the program isn't just Steven as a piece of eye candy, playing with the audience. It's Steven skating, with some solidly landed triples, some nicely evocative footwork, and some interesting and heartfelt choreography. A very good program for Steven.

Step-Sisters (Eurythmics, Annie Lennox, Aretha Franklin) - Elena Berezhnaya, Kyoko Ina, Jamie Sale, Yuka Sato, Steven Cousins

As Steven stands on the ice, the four girls, dressed in frilly aprons and pastelly cutesy housedresses, come out to join him, each dressing him in a different item until he's fully outfitted in a smoking jacket with cravat, glasses, and newspaper. I don't really like this program much more the second time around, though my problems with it are mostly thematic and, correspondingly, have to do with the choreography that supports the theme. The "Stepford-wife" portion of the program is ok, and effectively evokes the stilted and overly stylized cutesy feel of the girls trying too hard to be the perfect beautiful wife, only to be ignored and overlooked by their newspaper-reading man. The part where the girls throw off their housedresses, leaving them in slinky black dresses and turning them into "strong" flirtatious sexy women just bugs me, as does the high-fiving. There is some nice stuff here - the four girls do simultaneous axels (I believe), spirals, lunges, and do some of the pairing up skating that the guys do in their number. But it's just not a theme or a group number I'm particularly fond of.

Super...(Harry Connick, Jr) - Kurt Browning

The transition to the next program is very cute, with Todd completely playing up his role as ringmaster and proud proprietor of the "World's Smallest Tenor" - a flea. He proudly skates around with his huge red microphone and the flea in his hand, lets us listen to the flea sing his Italian aria, and in his fervor and overenthusiasm, crushes the flea (with a loud resounding splooch) while taking his bows. His reaction is priceless - both appalled and mildly disgusted, and the moment where he shows Kurt - who looks stunned and deeply saddened - the crushed flea is hilarious.

The transition doesn't actually flow into the program *that* well, since Kurt has to look all sad about the flea, and then basically shrug it off and get back to work on the pipe, but it was cute and Kurt plays it to the best of his abilities. "Super..." continues the theme from the first program, putting Kurt in the same costume (#1 Dad) with the same toybox and wrench, to a different piece of music - the song everyone knows but few can spell, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". This program is far more prop-heavy than the first one, with Kurt starting off with a football that he skates around with, jumps, and then throws (he has quite a good arm, from what I could see), before skating around some and doing some cartwheels on the ice. He then proceeds to don his red cape, first mock-fighting with a shield and a hockey stick, pretending to bullfight with the cape, and then finally ripping the cape in two (oops). He then goes back to the box, retrieves a pair of boxing gloves, and does a pretty impressive bit of jumprope, two-footed and skipping on a single toe, holding the rope with his boxing gloves. He went from boxing gloves to little skates, which he held while doing a series of jumps, though never actually touched the skates to the ice. He ends with a hasty double axel over the box, and fixes the pipe just in time for Sonia to come home (apparently, all it took with one turn with the wrench - he's a worse procrastinator than I am!). Exuberant about having succeeded in fixing the pipe, Kurt happily bounces and picks up his stuff, until, forgetting that the fireman's hat was there to catch the water, he dumps water all over his head when he puts the hat back on. This program was cute, and Kurt entertains as only Kurt can. I just wish he had done something else for his second number.

Kurt's number was followed by a funeral procession for the flea, led by Todd, and followed by a sobbing Sarah, Kyoko, John (holding a bird head up?), Yuka, and a particularly loudly grieving David, whose loud sobs rent the air, and completely cracked up the crowd. Before leaving the ice, David wrung out his sopping rag onto the ice (prompting even more laughter), sobbed again loudly, and then disappeared into the tunnel.

Dance Mix (various) - Elena Berezhnaya & Anton Sikharuldize

We weren't left to grieve long, though, as Anton and Elena came out ready to mix it up and really dance to the music. Anton's homeboy outfit cracked me up - black large shirt with a black cross on the back and a large $ sign on the side, and black baseball cap, while Elena wore a shiny pink belly-baring outfit. This program is a total contrast to their first, with Elena and Anton shedding the elegance and grace, as well as the romanticism, of "If I Could" to become nitty, gritty, totally into it club or street dancers. And they're remarkably good at it. Anton has shown signs in the past of being a total goof who is completely willing to go for broke in the character he occupies, but Elena surprised me in her funkiness, her embrace of her "character" and her attributes, and how well she got into the dancing. The program does have a lot of downtime, and seems less about skating than it is about dancing with skates on the feet, but it's a heck of a lot of fun to watch, and they do still land an exciting throw triple and a something-twist. A fun departure for the classical Russians.

Shout (Otis Day) - Alexei Yagudin

For some reason, the transition to this next program involves Yuka, Kyoka, and I think maybe Jamie coming out in red masks, holding large red feathery wings, and skating to "Mad World" by Gary Jules. I don't know what the significance is but it does have a rather mystical, mysterious air to it, with the girls skating rather solemnly, creating various shapes and movements with the wings, before circling around Alexei and skating away (with him making mocking flapping motions with his hands after them).

"Shout" isn't exactly what I would call a creative or technical stretch for Alexei. It's rather reminiscent of "Born to be Wild" or "Ain't That a Shame", upbeat, fast-paced flirty programs with a whole lot of flirting and not nearly as much skating. It's fun, and the audience does seem to enjoy it (particularly those segments of the audience Alexei specifically goes over to, thrusts his pelvis out at, and then lies back on). But there's not much substance to it. I definitely prefer "Passion" to "Shout" though I do like the skaters skating to two programs with different feels from each other.

Who Wants to Live Forever (Queen) - Jamie Sale & David Pelletier

Possibly one of my favorite transitions, just for the very cool visual effect, happens here. Four robed and hooded figures gather around a smokey something or the other (I'd suspect it was a smoke generator), acting as if they're brewing a spell in rather low and mysterious lighting. The lights go down and come back up and lo and behold, Jamie and David standing dramatically in a pool of light in the midst of smoke, looking upwards, as the remaining two figures skate hastily and surreptiously away.

Since my last review, I've been informed that Jamie and David's number is not, in fact, aiming for religious overtones, but in fact is influenced by the yoga discipline they both practice. It's an easy mistake to make, IMO - not only does Jamie hold her hands in prayer position quite often, they both have crosses on their costumes and at another point in time form the shape of a cross with Jamie held upside down, her arms along David's outreached arms. I really like this program. Helps that I love the music, but I think Jamie and David do a great job interpreting the music, and doing a different kind of choreography that doesn't feel like it's just the same old same old moves to different music. It's a very solemn number, with Jamie and David keeping very serious, intent expressions. I commented in my San Jose review how B/S and S/P did very similar moves with very different feel to them. In Who Wants to Live Forever, Jamie and David do a move where David is doing a spread eagle and Jamie stands on his feet, as they did in Radar Love, but instead of the slightly challenging, beat keeping, in each other's faces pose of Radar Love, Jamie is arched backwards, creating a far more dramatic look for the same move. It's quite neat. I also love the opening moves, where David skates in an ever-decreasing spread eagle around Jamie, and a lot of their lifts. Just a fantastic program.

Over the Rainbow (Eva Cassidy) - Sarah Hughes

Sarah does a nice job skating to this program, interpreting the music with simplicity and grace, and a little childlike wonder in the expressions of her face, which suits the music very well. This program is very full of spirals and spins, and some slow edges and poses. Yes, double jumps again, but her spirals felt a bit more solid and stretched out than in San Jose, and overall, it was a nice program for her.

Forevermore (Alessandro Safina) - Todd Eldredge

This is a really fantastic program for Todd, that showcases his exciting, dynamic style, and ability to skate effectively to dramatic music really well. I've enjoyed it each time I've seen it (in fact, I'm really enjoying Todd in general this year), and this time was no exception. Todd's speed and choreography is excellent, and this program really suits him well. Not to mention, his jumps and spins are still top-notch and very exciting to watch.

Dream On (Aerosmith) - Cast

Time for another Kyoko costume change (as my bf asked me, "why does she change her costume so much?) behind the magical screen, this time emerging in the silver dress of the finale. I really like this finale, and I especially like the choice of music. There's a building excitement to the music, with occasional slower interludes, that really suits a finale like this well, especially the way it's been choreographed. It starts with Kyoko skating alone, who is quickly joined by Todd, and then each skater or pair takes a turn on the ice by themselves, or in small groups, doing interesting or exciting moves. For instance, Alexei comes out and helps lift Kyoko (holding her foot as John supports her upper body), and then skates by himself. Yuka skates alone, and then is joined by Kurt and Steven, who lift her, do jumps side by side, and Steven and Kurt do some choreography down the ice together, including side-by-side butterflies (?), culminating in a high five. They're joined by the rest of the cast, who skate dramatically down the ice together as the snow (yes, snow) starts to fall from above, first skating as a group, but soon breaking off into something like the opening number, where each skater is doing something different down the ice wherever you look (including I&Z and B&S at center ice, with the girls' bodies flung out and the guys supporting them). It finally ends with the skaters dramatically reaching towards the sky with a spot shining down on each of them, as the snow continues to fall. Just a dynamic, wonderful finale to the show.

Overall, I do think this is one of the best Stars on Ice shows I've seen in a while, with a lot of fun transitions that work well without detracting from the show, and a great running theme throughout. I definitely highly recommend the show to anyone interested in a fun night out.