Canadian Stars on Ice Review (Part 1)

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This year the 12 city Stars on Ice tour featured Canada’s best skating stars. After Canada’s success at the recent World Championships the tour featured Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford and Patrick Chan as regular cast members for the first time. As well, the cast welcomed back many returning favourites!

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This post heavily features my cousin as a guest blogger! Please welcome KP! She practically wrote this post for me 🙂 I can guarantee this won’t be the last time you hear from her. Now on to the show!

If you think back as recent as two years ago you might remember a time when the show had begun to drag a little. We’d been seeing the same cast, who had all long since retired, skate to less than relevant music while wearing costumes that looked almost second hand. Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but the show was well out of its glory days and so were some of its stars.

Then last year they did an overhaul and I was thrilled to see a new spark of life in the show. Some of the cast were actually current athletes! Don’t get me wrong, Kurt Browning is my hero and he could do Stars on Ice for the rest of his life and I’d be a happy camper, but it’s also nice to see Patrick Chan or Scott & Tessa right off a big international win! Kurt Browning had also taken over and brought to SOI a real creative vision! Kurt passed the torch quickly on to Jeff Buttle. I realize some people may not love Buttle as much as I obsessively do, but you have to admire his talent as a choreographer. He has created a brilliant show this season and a perfect example of this was the opening number…

Opening Number “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye

KP – Skating to the sort of weird “Somebody That I Used to Know”, the cast of SOI started the night off right. They were all clad in the harlequin/motley/stripes of chic clowns and carried the coolest umbrella I’d ever seen (which continued to be a theme throughout the night…umbrellas I mean) while preforming intricate choreography that could only have been born of the mind of Jeff Buttle. The whole effect was creepy and weird but super cool & modern. My favourite part was the attention to detail. The corner screens, normally used for advertisements, played a pre-taped stalker-esque video of the cast singing and re-enacting Gotye’s music video. Joannie spent the first half of the number walking around the ice surface perfectly to the beat. And there was very little unison. Everyone had their own parts with major overlapping and craziness about the ice. It led to a very visually appealing and interesting display!

PB – The opening number was great! Current music with a little added quirkiness. My favourite part was the screens showing the cast in a “Somebody That I Used to Know” black and white music video:

Patrick Chan “I Need a Dollar” by Aloe Blacc

KP – I’ve seen this number a couple times now, including live in London at the World’s Gala. Often once you’ve seen a show number twice it starts to get a bit stale but not “Hat Trick Patrick.” First of all let me say how clever this whole thing was, and I don’t just mean the rhyme although that’s fun too. Pulling out a hat trick program the year he wins his 3rd world championship…I’m very happy that this didn’t come back to bite him in the ass like the time Michelle Kwan skated to fields of gold and proceeded to win silver…oops! The number has all of the cleverness one expects from a Kurt Browning choreographed program; in a way humorous but mainly just thoroughly impressive. I think most of those hat tricks would be difficult enough without adding in the momentum created by doing them while skating, and anyone who has seen Patrick Chan in person can tell you he is not going slow!

PB – I’ve seen this number live as well and it’s still great. The tricks with the hat are brilliant! I think I’ve seen him mess it up once, possibly World’s Gala…. Patrick is becoming a real showman, which I guess is what he’s been trying to accomplish this season. It’s nice to see fun, upbeat programs from Patrick. He really has grown as a performer.

Ashley Wagner “Vienna” by Billy Joel

KP – I really like Ashley Wagner. She has beautiful lines, a floating grace and a mega-watt smile. That being said, I didn’t love this program. It was definitely pretty but not particularly exciting or attention holding. Ashley did pull off a few more difficult triples though, so props for that!

PB – I love Ashley Wagner! Definitely one of my favourite competing ladies. This was a very nice program, to a very nice song, but slightly boring compared to some of the other programs. She’s a gorgeous skater and there was some gorgeous skating in this number.

Sinead & John Kerr “Mad World” by Adam Lambert

KP – I have to admit that I was ready to be bored stiff by this pair. We were just coming out of a sleepy night in Vienna with Ashley and I didn’t have high hopes for the energy getting back up. Boy was I wrong! The Kerrs entranced the audience and pulled me out of my short lived slump. Their rendition of Mad World was hauntingly beautiful and exhibited great chemistry…amazing chemistry if you consider they’re actually siblings. And now I’m going to refrain from ranting about how creepy it is to watch a brother and sister look that in love.

PB – I’ve never seen the Kerr’s live where I can actually remember something specific about them. I’m positive I’ve seen them at past Worlds, they’ve just never been memorable before. This program however was great! Mad World is a great song and they skated to it perfectly in a hauntingly beautiful way. I’m glad they’re in the show this year. They make a great addition to the cast.

Shawn Sawyer “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff

KP – I knew the next number could be nothing but amazing when I noticed the sheet-covered lump lying on the ice in front of us. Out crawled the most ridiculously fuzzy caterpillar. It literally crawled around the ice, occasionally flipping upside down or rolling about. Then suddenly it transformed and out popped Shawn Sawyer the butterfly! First, the costume…can you really go wrong with a black unitard with colourful butterfly wings built onto your sides? If you can, then I’m not sure I want to be right! Shawn proceeded to stretch, flex and flail his way about the ice in the most entertaining way you could imagine. This guy is always hilarious and creative and a total show stealer!

PB – I don’t know what to say about this program. It was a favourite for many of our group, including my sister. We didn’t know what to expect when we saw Shawn emerge as a fuzzy caterpillar. This number was weird, Shawn as a caterpillar and then a butterfly. It was weird but great at the same time. Only Shawn Sawyer can pull of a number like this. He was made for Stars on Ice. He’s full of tricks that are just perfect for this show!

Joannie Rochette & Jeffrey Buttle “Piano Guys” by Dave Brubeck & Van Cilburn

KP – When Joannie skated out for the next program I was momentarily distracted by how incredibly beautiful both her and her dress were. Not too distracted to realize that this was the second classical piece of music in a row. I was really impressed by the amount of instrumental music in this show and how, as an audience member, it didn’t make it any less interesting. See ISU, you don’t have to allow lyrics in figure skating to keep people’s interest! Anyway, Joannie was shortly joined by Buttle for an incredibly intricate duet. I can’t imagine how long it took to make this number up because it was choreographed within an inch of its life…but in the most amazing way possible! They used every single note, beat and pause of the score and absolutely killed it. Also, a shout out to them for their unison; I swear it was better than a lot of the pairs teams we saw at World’s this year!

PB – This number was different, different in a good way. You don’t often see duets between two singles skaters. This number had great choreography and unison. It was a perfect pairs program, minus all the typical pairs tricks. We joked that Japan should have put together a program like this for the World Team trophy and gotten some pairs points. Yuzu and Mao 🙂

Kurt Browning “Kurt’s Song” by Tragically Hip

KP – Another instrumental piece, but this one (I’m assuming from the title) was created just for the skater. And as a composer why wouldn’t you want to make something for Kurt Browning…I mean if skating was a religion he would be a (if not the) god. When thinking of Kurt’s brilliance the mind usually goes to his humour. But a number like this one reminds you not to overlook the magic he creates when just using a beautiful piece of music. I mean there is not word to describe it other than magical. He seems to float on the music through incredible difficult footwork passes with such ease that you almost forget to appreciate them.

PB – Kurt is brilliant, there’s no denying it. I enjoyed how this program was simple and classic, basic skating. I enjoy that almost more often than flashy upbeat show numbers. I like how Kurt’s passed his silliness on through his choreography, have you seen Javi lately??

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir “Stay” by Rihanna

KP – I was pretty happy when I heard what Scott & Tessa were skating to. “Stay” by Rihanna is one of my recent favourites and I knew they could definitely do it justice. To start, Tessa looked amazing…both her & her dress. And Scott, well I always think Scott looks amazing 😉 From the first bar of music I’m not sure anyone in the entire arena moved. The chemistry between the pair is so electric that you feel like you’ve been let in on the most beautiful of intimate moments. I am constantly amazed by these two and the way they can create that still, breathless feeling in an audience. I think part of it is also the way they use a pause…no one uses a pause like T&S. You’d think the absence of movement would kill the energy but they have a way of creating tension and anticipation that any performer should envy.

PB – This program was perfection! These two create such a moment and have such chemistry that I envy everyone who skates against them. They have something that can’t be taught. This was definitely one of my favourite programs of the night. Perfect in many ways. I could watch Scott (and Tessa) all day.

Jeffrey Buttle “Just in Time” by Mel Torme

KP – Although I liked Jeff’s other number better you can tell he really enjoys skating to jazzy/swingy type music. He looked like he was having a great time out there! As for what I thought of the program: Jeffrey Buttle should choreograph the world! I honestly think if someone wants to succeed they should get one of their competitive programs done by David Wilson, the other by Jeff Buttle and their show number by Kurt. Of course there is the odd exception, such as programs by Lori Nichol or how Lance Vipon seems to be killing it for Kaetlyn Osmond, but that should be the general rule.

PB – I didn’t like this program as much as his other program but I do love Jeff Buttle, just so much. He’s a great choreographer and I can’ wait to see who he choreographs for this upcoming season.

Joannie Rochette “Is it a Crime?” by Sade

KP – The only thing criminal about this number was how hot Joannie Rochette is! Clad in a low V, lacey black dress there is no denying that she is absolutely gorgeous. And the skating only added to the effect. The whole thing was sexy and fun and I just love watching her. As a side note, did anyone else feel like Joannie is looking exceptionally tiny? I’m not saying this is good or bad or anything, I’m just saying that during the group numbers I was blown away by how small she looks.

PB – Joannie is beautiful! We weren’t the only people to realize how tiny Joannie’s looking these days. She said she would discuss her possible comeback once the tour was over. We haven’t heard anything yet and I’d be extremely surprised if we saw her compete again next season. Whether she does or not, this was a very pretty program but rather unmemorable.

World Champion Group “Wonder” by Naughty Boy & Emelie Sande

KP – This was such a cool idea for a combo of people. It’s so exciting that we have enough talent in Canada lately to have a number made up purely of world champions…granted they are usually men, but I’m quite ok with that. This was really interesting and well done. They did an awesome job of making it work despite the fact that they had 4 men & only one girl and that they had 3 singles skaters & a dance pair. I loved the combination lifts they did. All 4 men held Tessa overhead and she dramatically changed positions at least three times before touching the ground. My favourite part though (despite Scott’s face) was a part when Tessa was being “contagious” and adding them to a follow-the-leader line behind her. It was a neat moment in general but right before her & 2 of the guys added Patrick to their line he got this gigantic smile on his face that was just pure joy! Love it!

PB – I loved this program, especially the program where everyone was introduced as “World Champion”. It was nice to see how many World Champions we have had in recent years. The lifts were a highlight, all 4 men lifting Tessa. You could tell Scott was paying a lot of attention to Tessa and was leading the lifts. I guess after a few years you get pretty used knowing where Tessa is a every moment. But maybe this was something you only noticed when you spent the majority of the program watching Scott 🙂

And there ends the first half of the show, stay tuned for part two!

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