I had a chance to take in the Thursday performance of the annual recital/show of the Detroit Skating Club last week. I think this was the most sheer fun I have ever had at an ice show, and I've seen SOI, COI, the Ice Capades and everybody, LOL. Here are my impressions.
1. This was a high class and thoroughly professional production. Kudos and congratulations to the organizers and to all of the volunteers and staff for their administrative skills. There was a full house. Note to myself: next time, get a ticket in advance. They were just able to squeeze me in, in the next to last seat in the last row of the farthest section! However, there are no bad seats in this venue - although the ice surface seems huge, the seating is intimate and every seat gives a clear view of the whole rink.
There were about 200 performers in all, including children of all ages. So by the time all of the parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and cousins bought tickets, anyone hoping to drop in at the last minute had better step lively. Needless to say the crowd was full of enthusiasm, cheering lustily for every waltz jump and bunny hop. The show featured non-stop action, with each performance following seamlessly after the last.
The show benefited, in part, the Lighthouse Path organization. This charity serves the needs of homeless women and children, providing shelter, job training and day care.
The theme was Music Across America and featured a smorgasbord of every kind of American music from 50s rock and roll to country to Latin to rap. The sound system was especially good.
2. This show featured some outstanding skating by performers at every level of training. The featured elite skaters were Kristen Roth and Steve Hartsell, Marcy Hinzmann and Aaron Parchem, and Dan Hollander (Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows). But never mind that -- hey, I can see them on TV, LOL. It was the kids from age four on up to top juniors that made the show. I was most impressed by:
(a) The overall speed. Some of these skaters (OK, maybe not so much the four-year-olds) just flew across the ice.
(b) The choreography. I am not an expert, but I thought the choreography was uniformly outstanding. Some of the numbers were choreographed by the skaters themselves. I think the DSC gives classes in choreography. Each of the solo performances was chock full of in-betweens, graceful arm movements, interesting jump entries and beautiful and athletic poses.
(c) Several of the soloists did Lutzes, giving great care to the entering edge. It was like they were saying, "Hey Michelle, Sasha, Sarah - check this out! Now THAT's a back outside edge."
3. All of the featured performers did a lot a hard jumps and spins, but it was interesting to me that the most spectacular moves in the field seemed to be harder than the spins and jumps. Only two skaters attempted a change of edge spiral, and neither was able to hold the second edge longer than a second or two. Only one skater did an Ina Bauer (albeit a beautiful one).
I should insert here that I was able to stay for only half of the show. This was a busy weekend, with the Detroit Festival of the Arts going on and a bunch of other things. So I could only go to the Thursday evening show, and I had to go alone. This meant two things: I was certain to get lost on the way, LOL, and I had to leave at halftime before it got dark. (I can't drive at night because of a visual handicap.)
4. Let's hear it for the boys! The future of men's figure skating is alive and well here in the motor city, home of the NBA champion Detroit Pistons. But the Bad Boys II have nothing on the Mean Motown Marauders of the DSC. One all-male act had 24 little boys strutting their stuff and backing up an Elvis Stojko macho man performer, one act had 8 teenaged guys, and several of the group numbers had either an equal number of boys and girls, or else at least some boys in the group.
Here are a couple of notes that I took on the individual performances. That is, I tried to take some notes, but it was too dark, and when I got home I saw that I had written on pages in the program that weren't blank after all, but were already printed on, so now I can't read what I wrote at all. I just hope that I am matching up my remembrances with the right skaters. Anyway, SOMEBODY was a beautiful Sasha-esque skater, even if I got the name wrong!
Also, about jumps, from where I was sitting I couldn't really tell the difference between a well-executed double jump and a triple jump. Like when Dorothy Hamill skates. Her doubles are so marvelous, you don't worry about counting revolutions. So below I will just call all jumps triples, and please don't ask me if it was a loop or a Salchow, LOL.
The show opened with fog swirling out onto the ice, then a large team skating to Neil Diamond’s Coming to America. This featured some smooth and elaborate group choreography, as did all of the group numbers, IMO. There was always something interesting going on, either in unison or in complement. Next up was National Juniors competitor William Brewster. This is a very accomplished young skater. He skated an upbeat number to Will Smith's Welcome to Miami. Showing great flair and pizzazz, William began in a hip hop style dressed all in black, then whipped off his coat to "change" into a blue vest and tie. I think he did three triples, plus an outstanding combo spin.
Philadelphia Freedom (Elton John) provided the music for the next group of five girls, dressed in red, white and blue flag outfits. A nice program featuring sound technical content and good flow. Immediate after came a non-stop dash by about 20 little girls in a Hawaiian theme (Rock a Hula). The featured soloist with this group was Sarah Glassberg. Sarah skated with wonderful overall speed, with a fine layback and a true Lutz.
One of the most beautiful performances of the night came next, when Katarina Witt took the ice to Angel by Sarah Mclachlan. Oh wait, it wasn't Katarina Witt, it was Katrina Karpowitsc. Breathtaking. Her own choreography. Three triples, good speed throughout, nice catch-foot spiral, excellent position on her layback. First rate.
For a change of pace, this number was followed by a pairs routine to a cowboy theme, Oklahoma Swing by Reba McIntire and Vince Gill. The performers were Emily Glassberg and Kurt Weiss, with choreography by Jerod Swallow, newly appointed as the head of ice dancing at the DSC. (I assume that Emily is the sister of Sarah Glassberg, so they have the same first names as Sarah and Emily Hughes. I wish them the same fortune as SH!) Glassberg and Weiss presented a technically challenging program full of exciting highlights. Side-by-side spins with excellent unison, a carry lift with change of position in the air, and a super throw jump with good outflow on the landing edge.
Next came the Mardi Gras ladies - about 20 girls in Carnival costumes skating to the New Orleans sound. The featured soloist was Kathleen Quigley. This is a very lovely performer. She is tall for a figure skater, and like Sarah Hughes, is able to use her balletic line to create beautiful positions. Following the Mardi Gras a carpet was rolled out onto the ice for a performance by a pair of swing dancers who had just won a competition in the Hustle (Aside: the Detroit Hustle is the only dance your faithful scribe can do.) I have to apoplogize for not catching the names of these dancers -- and they weren't in the program, either.
Amanda Shin skated next, to Kentucky Rain. This was one of the most polished performances of the night. Amanda did a 2-Axel (I think), a superb combination spin with several changes of position. Her choreography was outstanding, with great moves in the field. Not a movement was wasted. The finale of the first section was a group of a dozen "California Girls." Besides that Beach Boys song, their medley included Ba-ba-ba Ba-barbara-Ann, and Wipeout, so the music alone had the house rocking. Featured soloist Lauren Williams really rocked it, she was cute as a button, loads of enthusiasm, triple jumps, a combination jump, high energy. They "wiped out" at the end, LOL.
Part 2 led off with one of the featured acts, U.S. Senior pairs competitor Kristen Roth and Steve Hartsell. I was interested to see this pair, having followed the careers of Hartsell and Hartsell through their 2002 national championship. (The Hartsells are from nearby Dearborn, Michigan). Wonderful performance. They didn't hold back on the tech for this show. Side by side triples, two great strength lifts, a triple throw jump, excellent death spiral, fine unison throughout, ended with a crowd-pleasing airplane spin (Detroiter).
The boys were up next. About twenty little boys (some very little) in ethnic costumes representing all the different nations of people who came to America. Costumes were by Susan Walton, according to the back inside cover of the program. Soloist was Brandon Hanson. Brandon is a natural showman, with a muscular physique and a macho style. He did two clean triples, I think he did a 2-Axel and attempted a Lutz. Very entertaining show, with clever background choreography, too.
I have to apologize now to star skater Lauren Gladney (Key Largo) and to featured soloist Audrey Powell and her "Copacabana" team. I cannot make out my notes at all on this section of the program. Sorry.
Goin' Down to New York Town performed by Nicole Leiden was one of the highlights of the show. Triple, layback with change of position, double jump, smooth change of edge spiral, split jump, hydroplane, lots of dancing, combo spin with almost a Bielmann. She pulled out all the stops. Cute alert! Now it was the littlest kid's turn. "New York, New York" featured the boys in pin-striped tuxedos and girls in matching tuxedo dresses with bow ties and top hats. With two older girls to shepard them around (the very tiniest had to be carried into position), they skated up a storm showing basic elements in synch. The featured soloist with the group was Madeline Young, showing first rate jumps, nice choreography and excellent positions.
The team of Gabrielle Anderson, Rachel Branham, Meghan Erikson, Anna Goldschmidt and Cara Schooley was up next with a show girl numnber to "This Town" (Frank Sinatra). This was a very polished group. You could tell how hard they had worked . Wonderful choreography, each skater took a solo featuring a variety of jumps, spins and moves in the field. Katie White performed next, with a sizzling non-stop exhibition to "Kansas City." High energy, great speed, stag jump, triple jump, nice arabesque spiral, back spiral, pretty combination spin.
(OK, time out to try to make something out of my notes. Somebody did a 3-step-3 jump. a hydroplane, three different well-centered spins, had lovely arm positions and a cute ending. Well, anyway, you get the idea -- this was just one heck of a fine show!)
The older kids performed next, with a mixed group of about 6 boys and 12 girls. They performed to a Latin beat with Gloria Estefan vocals. Very intricate group and individual choreography, some great solo jumps by both boys and girls, three pairs did carry lifts, one did a double twist, four girls did a side-by-side-by-side-by-side jump in unison, two pairs did airplane spins, outstanding speed and flow throughout.
In a special performance for the Thursday show only, we were then treated to a routine by Team Elan -- the Midwestern Synchronized Skating bronze medalists. They did a toy soldier routine in the style of the Rockettes. This was really cool, if you've never seen a live synchronized show before. Like a big kaleidoscope with all the pieces continually breaking apart and coming back together in new patterns.
The climax of the first half of the show was a performance by an exquisite young skater, Sarabeth Perry. Sarabeth performed to a live rendition of The Prayer by local professional singers Darlene Jebson and Less Hill. The music was marvellous -- it could have Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, or Charlotte Church and Josh Groban.
But then, too, the skater could have been Sasha Cohen, as beautiful as her interpretation was. She did an Axel, change of edge spiral in exquisite arabesque position, back spiral, footwork into a triple jump, truly outstanding back position on her layback -- just gorgeous skating and music to bring down the curtain.
And that was just the first half of the show!
So that's my report,
PS. Sylvia, thanks for telling me about this show. I'm sorry my report is so garbled. You can link this on your board if you think any of your members would be interested in the impressions of this very inexpert figure skating fan.