More Ice Theatre Thoughts

Following up on my Ice Theatre review last week, I thought I’d post a few more tidbits/random thoughts from seeing the show.

Ice Dance Ladies

I didn’t get a chance to mention them in my review, but Kim Navarro and Lynne Kriengkrairut both looked great in their appearances in the show.

Great skating skills from Lynne
Great skating skills from Lynne

Lynne impressed with deep edges and beautiful, soft knee action in her skating. And of course, she is as lovely as ever.

Kim was really a standout in all her numbers. She skates with so much exuberance and energy; she really pulls you into the performance. I really enjoyed watching her and am glad she has a chance to showcase her skills in Ice Theatre.

Is Show Lighting A Good Thing?

As I mentioned in my review, the show took place at the SC of Boston training rink. So, there was no show lighting. This felt odd for the first couple minutes. Then I forgot about it, and just enjoyed the skating.

I wonder if more ice shows should actually try performing under full lights. As an audience member, you just see so much more. If the Ice Theatre show had been performed in dark stage lighting, I don’t think I’d have been able to appreciate the edges and finer details of the skating as much. This is particularly important with an ice dancing show.

Too dark?
Too dark?

Perhaps skating should follow the lead of ballet. When I saw the Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker a few years ago, much of that show was performed under quite bright lights. And it was definitely helpful in terms of appreciating the nuances of movement, which mean everything in ballet (and ice dance). I know dark stage lighting is used in some ballets, but I really appreciated the bright lighting for the Nutcracker.

Skating shows seem to be stuck more in the rock concert model, in which the whole arena is mostly dark, except for spotlights. That approach is fine for music acts, but I question how well it works for skating. I’ve also seen many comments from skaters that it’s more difficult to skate under show lights. Brighter lighting for skating shows might improve not only the audience’s vision, but also the level of performance as well, which would be a win/win for everybody. Playing around with lighting conventions might also change up and help modernize the whole “look” of skating shows, which has become rather predictable at this point. There is not much element of surprise there right now.

Music: Familiarity vs. Repetition

There’s been much discussion about the overuse of “warhorse” music in competitive skating—i.e., the greatest classical hits that we’ve heard over and over. Oftentimes, music choices for show skating aren’t much better. For shows, skaters often skate to the latest pop hits from Top 40 radio. Although this might seem like a good idea, the trouble is that the songs are often so overplayed by the time they get to the ice that they’re no longer fun or fresh.

Skaters like to use the same old classical pieces or pop songs because prior experience indicates judges and audiences like those pieces. Therefore, it seems a surefire way to increase the likelihood of a good response to a program. Logically, therefore, it makes sense that skaters want to skate to “Liebestraum” or “Let It Go.”

But Ice Theatre went in a different direction with their music choices, which I liked, and it got me thinking that perhaps skaters could try a similar approach. Ice Theatre performed a lovely classical program called “Reveries,” which was set to Tchaikovsky’s Orchestral Suite #3 in G Major. The music and program were lyrical and beautiful. The music felt familiar–because it was Tchaikovsky–and yet still fresh, because it was a different Tchaikovsky composition (not the standard Swan Lake or Romeo & Juliet).

Similarly, the “Roots” finale number included a song by Mumford & Sons. You could feel the audience immediately respond to the familiar, fun, and rousing Mumford sound. But–because it wasn’t one of the Mumford hits that we’ve all heard a thousand times—it again felt fresh and enjoyable and interesting. One’s reaction was like, “Hmm, that was a good song!” not, “Oh, ‘I Will Wait’ again.”

It made me feel like skaters should think about using music that sounds familiar, but is not repetitive. Go ahead and use Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninov—but try out a piece of theirs that’s different and hasn’t been used a million times. Same for exhibitions. Go ahead and skate to Taylor Swift if you want—but why not choose a song that hasn’t been on the radio yet? Judges and audiences will still recognize and enjoy the familiar sound/feel of Tchaikovsky (or Taylor!), but there will be a level of interest and intrigue with the music, because it will sound new.

My preference is for skaters to really branch out and use unusual, seldom-heard music as much as possible. However, if a skater isn’t comfortable with that, why not at least go for familiarity in your music choice, but avoid repetition?

Somehow, I have a feeling the judges are probably as bored with Carmen, POTO, and Swan Lake as the rest of us. After all, they have to hear this stuff even more often than we do!


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