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Thread: Skating Shows, Cirque du Soleil, and PT Barnum

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    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    Skating Shows, Cirque du Soleil, and PT Barnum

    I passed a Cirque du Soleil poster today and the performer pictured in it made me think of a skater. It made me wonder why Cirque is so very popular while skating shows are less and less so. Has anyone tried to assemble a Cirque-style skating show with any success?

    SOI (like COI in the past) focuses on individual skating stars -- even with all the group numbers, there's a lot of hype of individual skaters and each one gets his or her special introduction, solo and (strongly milked ) round of applause. I find that approach to be less and less successful since skaters' fame is so narrow nowadays.

    I'm curious whether a show that was more of a "magical event" would work. For example, that would be the perfect "home" for a number like the three angels piece that Johnny did with Melissa Gregory and Dennis Petukov. That trio went outside the figure skating box and was quite a hit, and I wonder what else could be done if skaters were willing to be more theatrical and imaginative.

    These questions also made me think of P.T. Barnum, the circus founder who also promoted such diverse stars as Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the soprano Jenny Lind. In the 19th C. theaters and impresarios were much more willing to give audiences variety rather than demanding that people climb up to a Bayreuthian peak of great art. That's another possible way to bring skating to new audiences. Why shouldn't Alissa and Johnny (and Johnny-Stephane) do numbers in Cirque du Soleil? Why shouldn't Sasha and Plushy team up with Celine Dion in Las Vegas? (Sasha did a great exhibition to Dion's God Bless America.)

    I know there have been many efforts to pair, e.g., skating and gymnastics, skating and fashion, but what I'm wondering about is whether either an old-fashioned or new-fashioned theatrical extravaganza could successfully include skating and whether that could be good for skating.

    After all, it was Anna Pavlova killing that damn swan all over the USA for 10 years that gave us the ballet audiences of today. (Slight exaggeration....)

    More off-season wonderings...

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    Banned janetfan's Avatar
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    I think you raise some interesting questions but not sure if I have any answers.
    You mentioned Johnny in most of your examples. He might be good at something combining a higher degree of theatrics with skating. There is a logistical problem and expense to provide a show with ice for only one or two acts so I guess you meant for an entire variety type show to be produced on ice? (Or maybe "Phantom of the Opera" on ice." OK, baaaad idea.....)
    That could be done but certainly would need a very good creative team to come up with a concept that could compete with other entertainments out there.
    Right now I think it would be hard to sell without a headlining "ice princess" or more skaters with more "it" factor. Or wait for Yuna to retire from competitons as I hear she is actually a pretty talented singer. Or bring back Sasha's short lived contorsionist act.
    Last edited by janetfan; 06-08-2009 at 03:12 PM.

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    Well, there's Holiday on Ice, which seems to have a similar aesthetic, but is not currently active in North America:
    http://www.holidayonice.biz/index.html

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    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    Well, there's Holiday on Ice, which seems to have a similar aesthetic, but is not currently active in North America:
    http://www.holidayonice.biz/index.html
    That does look like what I had in mind, only the name, the name... it's so backward looking. The individual show names are nice. But what's it like (if anyone's seen it)? Who's been in it?

    There is a logistical problem and expense to provide a show with ice for only one or two acts so I guess you meant for an entire variety type show to be produced on ice? (Or maybe "Phantom of the Opera" on ice." OK, baaaad idea.....)
    That could be done but certainly would need a very good creative team to come up with a concept that could compete with other entertainments out there.
    Actually I love the idea of one or two skating acts in the middle of another show, but maybe only Madonna could afford that. Well, why not? She needs something new.

    I agree about the very good creative team. That's what my beef about SOI boils down to: no imagination. It looks like a low-budget entertainment for little kiddies which I guess is pretty much what it is nowadays.
    Last edited by Spun Silver; 06-08-2009 at 03:37 PM.

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    leave no stone unturned seniorita's Avatar
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    The difference I see is that cirque du soleil shows apart from the individual abilities of their actors have a fascinating direction and photography, and are based on the group action rather than single presentations. Even if the artist in the foreground is doing that hard work there is a whole background of b characters adding a great deal to the final result. I dont know how it can be done on ice that.

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    Tripping on the Podium
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    There are a few key differences. The cast in Cirque are largely unknowns; there are no headliners. Many are retired Eastern Block gymnasts. Other people work for years just to make it to a Cirque audition. Once in, Cirque becomes their career. They train for months and then perform full time, sometimes multiple shows per day. I don't know how long the average performer stays with it.

    SOI, on the other hand, is seasonal. The skaters have coaching commitments, their own shows, and other gigs in the off season. Also, all of the skaters are well-known, at least to skating fans. So attendees are there to see their favorites as much as to see a show.

    So I think a Cirque-like show would be more suited to good but not elite skaters who are looking for a full-time skating job for a few years. Like the people who now do Disney on Ice.

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    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seniorita View Post
    The difference I see is that cirque du soleil shows apart from the individual abilities of their actors have a fascinating direction and photography, and are based on the group action rather than single presentations. Even if the artist in the foreground is doing that hard work there is a whole background of b characters adding a great deal to the final result. I dont know how it can be done on ice that.
    Why not?
    (I agree with your description. Also, live new-agey music, no?)

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    leave no stone unturned seniorita's Avatar
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    now what i bring in mind is scenes from cirque that have too many levels in all directions (width, height, depth of the scene they perform on) , when I wrote I dont know if it is possible, I dont oppose to if it can be done on ice rather than I cant imagine it cause i try to transfer the scenes of cirque du soleil on ice and I cannot see the whole picture..I agree about music.

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    Banned janetfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spun Silver View Post
    That does look like what I had in mind, only the name, the name... it's so backward looking. The individual show names are nice. But what's it like (if anyone's seen it)? Who's been in it?
    Actually I love the idea of one or two skating acts in the middle of another show, but maybe only Madonna could afford that. Well, why not? She needs something new.
    I agree about the very good creative team. That's what my beef about SOI boils down to: no imagination. It looks like a low-budget entertainment for little kiddies which I guess is pretty much what it is nowadays.
    Something like this could have it's best chance to run after an Olympic year. If it was a hit they could always keep it going with updated acts.
    One problem is that many skating fans are not necessarily big fans of exhibition skating. I agree a better name - something more contemporay and with a little more sizzle.
    As to Madonna - it might be better to invite stars outside of skating to broaden the audience appeal rather than looking for a star to add ice for a guest appearnace of one skating act..
    If all else fails they can resort to the Mishin's secret weapon - Plushy and mini-Plushy !

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    leave no stone unturned seniorita's Avatar
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    Lol mini plushy is Gachinsky, Mishin's skater in Juniors , not so litlle any more!

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    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    Something like this could have it's best chance to run after an Olympic year. If it was a hit they could always keep it going with updated acts.
    One problem is that many skating fans are not necessarily big fans of exhibition skating. I agree a better name - something more contemporay and with a little more sizzle.
    I agree about the post-Olympic timing.

    True, competition-skating fans and exhibition-skating fans are not necessarily the same people. I wonder though if better exhibitions -- as in imaginative Cirque-du-Soleil-calibre shows appealing that emphasize the artistic side of skating while not omitting to showcase the technical side -- might bring new people to skating (the way the Bell Telephone Hour used to bring new people to opera). Some would become "serious" fans, some would just keep going to shows, but it all helps.

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    The King has arrived - no questions! plushyta's Avatar
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    On Plushenko's tour shows "Golden Ice of Stradivary", perform and acrobate-skaters, from so-called "extreme skating". Among them is one couple - Ekaterina & Alexander Chesna, who have skating number, which partially performed in the air - similar to some number in Cirque de Soleil....
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch5dFUc_dkw


    In addition, in the Russian TV show "Star Ice" (september-december 2008) where is compete pairs (made of one Russian "stars" & one famous skater) ... in one episode, all the couples had a number "in air", similar to Chesna's perfomance (they have, actually, prepared them for that)

    Lera Kudryavceva & Gwendal Peizerat
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL3YYELQmew

    Fekla Tolstaya & John Zimmerman
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMzPenjUZUc

    Anastasiya Grebenkina & Alexandr Belov
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZl1n43nbJI

    Elena Berezhnaya & Dima Bilan
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Y4hj1NVT2w
    ....

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Maybe it's the Syndrome: "Seen one?; Seen them all."

    Does the show draw you to come back? It's not like other Sports that one becomes fans of. Skating Shows, Cirque du Soleil, Circuses, etc. All have mighty tricks to show and costumes to knock your eyes out. But, how often does one want to see them again, again, and again?

    Spectaculars have their place in 'show biz', but isn't seeing them once enough?

    Now the Sport of Figure Skating, Gymnastics, Skate Boarding, etc., one goes to see the competitors as in any Sport, over and over again.

  14. #14
    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    To be honest, I feel that way too Joe. I only went to Cirque once and would vastly rather go to a competition than a skating show.

    But elite competitions are pretty far away, thus very expensive to attend, and if Plushenko, Lambiel, Miki and Arakawa were coming my way in the kind of spectacle that Plushyta describes, I wouldn't hesitate.

    And if the spectacle changed significantly each year, sure, I'd keep going.

    Hate to say it, but it should change the lead skaters around too.

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    Tripping on the Podium
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    If I'm remembering correctly, didn't somebody try to resurrect Ice Capades with a Cirque du Soleil style show this year? And didn't it go bankrupt and strand the skaters somewhere in Canada?

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