All photographs by Marni Gallagher
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to Ice Chips 2015 in Cambridge, MA. I’ll just mention some of the highlights here on my blog.
Ice Chips is an annual show run by the Skating Club of Boston. Although it’s a club show and the cast consists primarily of club members, the show also features at least one special guest star each year. This year, it was none other than Gracie Gold, fresh off her 4th-place finish at Worlds.
But what makes Ice Chips fun is that it’s about the skaters of the future, not just the sport’s current stars. The first half of this year’s show featured group numbers from the young skaters in the club. Each routine included competitors from a certain level (e.g., juvenile or novice ladies), with one or two skaters performing short solos. It’s fun seeing the kids get a chance to wear fancy costumes and perform in front of a big crowd. You see a fair number of mistakes in these routines, but it’s all part of the process of learning how to skate and perform. The group numbers were set to upbeat music, and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves.
Among the group-number soloists, two who stood out for me were Bennett Gottlieb and Liza Hayes. Bennett is the current junior men’s New England Regional champion. He skated to a Beatles segment and had great extension and nice performance quality. He performed a backflip and several jumps that excited the crowd.
Liza Hayes is the intermediate ladies’ Eastern Sectional bronze medalist. I was impressed with Liza’s nice line and presentation in her solo segment to a Madonna song.
A highlight of the first half was novice pairs skater Alexandra Iovanna’s solo to “The Prayer” by Celine Dion. This program was a tribute to Alexandra’s father, who died last year, and she skated it beautifully, with a lot of emotion.
We were also treated to a performance by Act I of Boston, the club’s senior-level theatre-on-ice team. Act I skated a really interesting number to moody, intense music. The choreography featured Alex Shaughnessy as a vaguely menacing, queenlike figure, surrounded by a group of writhing followers. I loved this number and found it captivating. Alex was smoldering and convincing in the centerpiece role! After the show, Alex and partner Jimmy Morgan said that Act I of Boston will be going to France next week to participate in an international theatre-on-ice competition—quite exciting!
Gracie Gold closed the first half of the show with a fun performance to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” Although this song is crowd-pleasing, I think it’s actually quite challenging to skate to. The beat and lyrics are all very short and staccato, and it’s a bit difficult to translate that to the ice. Gracie does a good job, though, with this number. It’s very polished, and the dance moves are effective to the music (if a bit lacking in flow). Gracie included a triple Lutz and triple toe loop in the program.
The second half of the show opened with a short Inspector Clouseau number from Imagica of Boston, an adult theatre-on-ice team at the club. As an adult skater, I enjoyed seeing a couple of adult skating programs in the show! We also saw one of the club’s synchronized skating teams, Excel Collegiate, perform in the second half. (They recently placed 5th in their division at U.S. Synchronized Nationals.)
The second half included several group numbers featuring the older teenaged skaters in the club. These group routines again had some short solos, including one from Heidi Munger, who is senior ladies’ New England Regional champion. Heidi has a delicate, precise style on the ice and hit some pretty positions in this routine.
Next came a series of solo programs from some of the better-known skaters at the club.
Rebecca Peng skated a nice number with a couple of triple jumps. She has attractive positions and good speed, but could improve her interpretation of the music. Peng was 6th in junior ladies at Nationals this year and recently won the Challenge Cup, an international junior event.
Next up were Alex Shaughnessy/Jimmy Morgan, who were 10th at Nationals this year in senior pairs. Alex & Jimmy performed a fun number to “Uptown Funk.” They are so enjoyable to watch and did a great job selling the program. They landed a throw triple Salchow (slightly two-footed) and had good footwork. I loved their gold-and-black costumes, created by Alex’s mom, Ann Shaughnessy. They were perfect for the showy routine.
DeeDee Leng/Simon Shnapir performed a new exhibition program to “Beneath Your Beautiful,” choreographed by Renee Roca. They skated with nice smoothness and landed a throw double jump. This program has clean, simple choreography, which suits DeeDee and Simon’s straightforward style. They went for very simple costumes—jeans for Simon and black workout pants for DeeDee. I might have preferred something just a little more fancy.
Next up was Ross Miner, who also skated a new exhibition program to Justin Timberlake’s “All Over Again.” Choreographed by Massimo Scali, this program is really gorgeous to watch. I loved the deep, long curved patterns that Ross created with his stroking in this routine. Ross’s basic skating is so strong. I love the crispness and stretch in all his movement, and his commitment to the choreography. His spins are also terrific–just so fast, with great, fully extended positions. Ross also landed a triple flip (slight stumble out). For me, his program was the highlight of the show.
Gracie Gold came out next to perform her second number. She had a costume malfunction before she could start—her back neckline clasp came undone—and she had to skate off for a moment to get it fixed. Luckily, this didn’t faze Gracie at all. She came back out, laughed off the snafu, and launched into her second number to Beyonce’s “I Was Here.” Gracie did a nice job with this intense song, skating with good speed and polish. She again landed triple Lutz and triple toe loop, as well as a nice double Axel. Her jumps looked easy and strong, and her spins impressed as well. She looked happy, and it was nice to see her skate without the nerves and errors that have plagued her at times this season. After the show, Gracie told IceNetwork’s Sarah Brannen that she enjoys performing in occasional shows such as Ice Chips, but that her favorite part of skating is her daily practice/training routine (rather than touring).
The entire cast closed the show with an energetic Michael Jackson number. It was cute seeing all the kids out there again on the ice!
I thought this year’s Ice Chips was well produced. Everything ran smoothly, with no delays or glitches. The costumes were really nice and high-quality (especially considering how many costumes there were in the show!). The group-number choreography was at a level that the younger performers could handle; some of the numbers for the older skaters could perhaps have been a bit more sophisticated. The event reportedly drew good-size crowds for all three shows, which is really great for the club. Overall, I’d say it was a fun and successful 103rd edition of Ice Chips!