Ice Fantillusion 2014: Magical nightmares
A show by Kevin, Jenna, Lotte & friends
May 8, 2014
By Mireille Geurts
Photos © 2014 Absolute Skating by Joy & MG
The second act opened with a beautiful program by Amber skating to Once upon a December from the movie Anastasia. It worked amazingly; she just is the little ballerina on ice.
This is also the reason they picked this song for her. "Yeah, first Barbie girl was to be her solo program, but so far all we had Amber skate in the show was cute and fun. I really wanted her to show the audience something more mature; how good she really is! She can skate really well and not just be cute and do fun dance moves. She was more than happy to do Barbie girl together with Marthe, and later Catalin as well," Jenna explains.
Let me be your wings was the next song and at first Kevin skates alone, then he is joined by Amber wearing the same costume as before, and together they skate a wonderful program with spectacular pair elements. In a sense, Kevin truly acts as Amber's wings, lifting her up, spinning her around.
One lift was very original to me and what was especially gorgeous to see was the level of trust and how well they were accustomed to each other. Even when skating side by side - or like in the dress rehearsal thinking about elements - they move very similarly and in sync.
I also notice this when Kevin is skating together with Jenna.
The end of this program leaves Amber spinning in the opening of the decor and transforming from a little girl into a grown up woman - namely Jenna. Here she has a very elegant, but short, solo piece and then the carriage enters the ice, pulled by two white ‘horses'. Of course Princess Jenna is seated in the carriage and it moves all the way around the ice.
The carriage appeared in the school show already, but the lights weren't working yet. "That's right", laughs Jenna, "we did have a battery pack, but it wasn't strong enough, so we had to get a better one for the show." I guess they couldn't use an extension cord for that...
Next up is David Richardson's solo, skated in a nice suit, complete with a bow tie. Very fitting, since he skates to Top hat. As usual he leaves the audience very entertained. And then it's time for the royal ball the little girl wished for. There are palace guards, girls with fans, 'guys' in suits and hats, all dancing around with Kevin and Jenna, who also perform some nice pair lifts and individual elements.
This is all very romantic, until Jenna gets abducted by Abbie, and taken into an insect nightmare. I guess you have to be specific when you wish for a ball, because you might end up getting a beetle ball! (photo below)
Beetles and ladybugs and butterflies surround and capture Jenna and actually want to eat her, until they find out she got scrawny legs and is just too ugly.
Once Jenna manages to escape, she skates her solo to Let it go, from Frozen, which was a big hit, especially with the kids, a favorite they all loudly sang along with. Jenna also showed that her injury certainly did not prevent her from jumping triples and she pulled off a gorgeous double Axel in nearly every show.
Now we did hear that the adult skaters and volunteers had a sort of a game going on backstage. If you made a mistake, you'd be punished, by having to drink either 1, 2 or 3 shots. The mistakes were either being late/missing your spot, a mishap with your costume, 'swearing', missing a jump, a silly fall, lying about a mistake etc. We don't recall exactly which penalty applied to which mistake, but we did hear the after party on Sunday evening has been very pleasant..... "I won!" Jenna proudly states on Monday. And who lost? Let that be a mystery....
Jennifer Stone enters the ice as the Queen from Snow White and asks the mirror who is the most beautiful of all. We know the answer. A very accurate detail: the mirror in the decor actually changes into a face in this scene.
Abbie appears on the ice as the witch, and soon the ice is swarming with ghosts and skeletons. This scene is named "the fight against evil" and that is exactly what this is: all evil combined.
The choreography set to Orff looks pretty simple, but is so cleverly done. The ghosts and the skeletons dance around the edge of the rink, and with every turn they make, one skates to the middle, where they form a wheel. When the complete wheel is formed, they make a circle, then half of them halt, and the other half skates right through them and then they set up their end pose. Very cool!
Prince Kevin shows up to fight this evil, but ends up being captured and imprisoned (and lucky him gets to watch the next programs!).
Kirana, one of the skeletons explains: "the skeleton suits are a bit tricky, you have to make sure the holes for your eyes, nose and mouth stay in the right spot otherwise you either can't see, or breathe properly. That's why we keep our head and neck so straight." Sounds complicated, but funnily it is exactly that which suits their movements so well to the part.
The ghost costumes were some of Cathy's favorites. "They are actually pretty easy to make and so very effective on the ice."
Then it is time for Maleficent Jennifer to curse and hypnotize Aurora aka Jenna, to prick herself on a spinning wheel and sleep for a hundred years. These scenes are paired with quite a dialogue the skaters have to act out. Now it just happens Maleficent is played by Jennifer, who is from Great Britain, while the dialogue is in Flemish.
That she didn't really know what she was saying was very clear at the dress rehearsal on Wednesday. "Yeah," laughs Kevin, "they don't know the dialogue yet. I have them all written out and translated, but I left it at the house. So I guess they will have to study a bit later." Which they did; it was well acted, and nobody would have been able to tell in the actual shows. I also have to note that Jenna acted the part where she is hypnotized and lead to the spinning wheel very well. Except apparently for the Sunday show...
"I was cracking up then", Jenna laughs. "Jennifer had hit the crystal ball so hard when she was doing her part; it flew off the stick and landed in the audience. So she was acting all evil like... with just a stick. I really could not hold my laugher. And the audience was laughing at me, which made it even worse! I had tears running down my face. Remember being in school, when you really weren't allowed to laugh, but you couldn't hold it? Well, that was me on Sunday evening!"
No worries, Jenna, I bet that part of the audience loved it, it always adds something extra to your experience when something unexpected happens. It makes it more special. And the rest of the audience, sitting more to the sides, (Like us and the imprisoned Prince Kevin) didn't even notice. Although we do have photos of the stick without the ball... ;)
Laughing or not, Jenna pricks herself on the spindle, and is forced to sleep for a while. While Prince Kevin is still captured and watching, Stacey and David skate their solo to Once upon a dream. This being a slow, dark sounding song, combined with the movements of Stacey and David and the mysterious lights made for a very eerie and fitting atmosphere.
But it quickly gets broken up by the first sounds of Michael Jackson's Black or White. In other words, enter the new addition to the show: advanced novice Belgian champion Bob Rasschaert, doing a solo. He started off in true Michael Jackson style with crotch grabbing, moonwalking and tossing his hat. Skating in a white blouse, black pants, and with one black and one white glove, Bob captures the lyrics very well with his moves - using the right glove with the right words, etc. He also radiates joy being on the ice, and he really gets the audience going. This is a talent we're going to keep our eyes on!
A genius move on Jenna, Lotte and Kevin's part was adding the skeletons in the back. They are really jamming it out back there and it is so very amusing!
"They are anonymous," explains Jenna, "because of the costumes so they can be as silly as they want, and nobody knows who is who. At some point, even I didn't! And we told them to really go for it, which they did."
With the audience fully awake, we go into the next program: the skeleton dance. And just as in the previous number, they show they can really dance. This time it's a bit more choreographed though, and fully in sync. They also perform a cool group lift. Then Prince Kevin gets fed up by all the evil, breaks free and fights them off with his sword. He defeats the skeletons, but then Jennifer unleashes the ghosts and to demonstrate the full extent of her power, even a fire spitting dragon! But the prince bravely fights and of course slays the dragon.
We've told you before; Kevin likes to play with fire. This time it is to illustrate a scene with a dragon. In case you wonder, it was all done safely and away from the kids. Hidden in the mist, David King spreads petrol over the ice in an S shape, and Kevin lights it himself, behind the shield he holds. Left and right next to the dragons they have black fire boxes, and everybody is kept far from those.
Then he finally reaches his princess. He kneels next to her. This is the moment the kids in the audience started to yell "Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!" but Kevin's solo to So Close is planned first. It's quite funny, dragged out romantic tension. Full of passion Kevin skates to this, also showing he still hasn't lost any of his awesome & signature triples. We were impressed that on Thursday morning he even jumped a triple Axel... "Without warming up!", exclaims Kevin. Don't try this at home, kids.
And then it's finally time for that romantic kiss to wake up the princess, accompanied by a loud 'awww' from the audience. Jenna gets up and after a short solo bit, they skate together very romantically. The moves are in sync, their lifts, their jumps, it is perfect! They truly embody that in the end, love conquers all.
"That is actually the hardest part for me", explains Jenna. "I have lain on that bed for ages, getting very cold, especially my legs, and then I have to get up and skate, while I am all stiff!" She did that magnificently though, nobody even noticed.
Next we hear the annoying bleeping sound of an alarm clock. Bleah! Time to wake up Amber! It's a Brand new day! Kids on ice illustrate that, and show off some crazy synchronized moves I won't even try to describe, but they look very cool, in sync, and fitting.
And then it's time for the finale, where all the skaters introduce themselves to the audience. The ice is crazy full - we were told this was the show with the largest number of skaters involved (95!) and it shows.
Time for Kevin to tell everyone thanks: "I am so very proud of Ice Fantillusion and of everyone who made a contribution, big or small, whether it be Jenna and Lotte, or the person who maybe just glued one Swarovski on." He insisted on there being a special mention of Lotte van den Eynde , since she acted as concept developer during this edition, because Jenna was away for her competitive season a lot, and Kevin cannot do it all on his own.
After all these thanks, Jenna pries the microphone from him, which is not always that easy, and he gets his thanks as well.
After the shows - when everybody is still on the ice - they held a lottery. Tickets could be bought during the break, and the numbers got drawn under all of our watching eyes. There were sometimes hilarious moments, when someone in the audience won three prizes in one sitting, or someone had to come down from very far. One time a girl yelled, all excited that she won, and Kevin joked: "You won a million euros!" But then added more softly: "no wait, then we wouldn't need to hold a lottery".
The shows were very successful, every night getting a partial standing ovation from the audience. And both Kevin and Jenna have confided in us they are thinking about next year's show already. But first they have to duel between themselves which idea will get used. Hers or his. We won't place any bets on who wins. ;)
Also money is a factor. "I don't need to make a profit on the shows", says Kevin, "but I would like to break even. Which is why before we start the Ice Fantillusion winter tour, we need about 10.000 euro, so we know we are okay and it's not all that stressful for us to make ends meet.”
The winter tour is the smaller scale shows held at Christmas time, when opening ice rinks and giving demonstrations. We truly hope they will manage to get the money together, along with a mutually approved idea for next year. We surely wouldn't want to miss this eventful and fun experience, having a great time from the start of the dress rehearsals to the thank you talks after the last show, with on top the truly Magical shows.
Now we'll go home with dreams of pirate ships, whales and dragons as well, but for certain it won't be nightmares...