The dreamy Stars on Ice show in Seattle
July 26 , 2017
By Anna Zeitlin
Photos © Anna Zeitlin
It has been two years since Stars on Ice came to Seattle, and here I am again - entering the Key Arena in anticipation of the 2017 show, "In Dreams". The lineup is impressive, as always - what will the show have in store for us this year? I take my seat, ready my camera and take a deep breath - here we go again.
The show started with a very upbeat and rhythmic performance by the entire cast to 24K Magic by Bruno Mars. This was а great opening number, full of promise for more quality skating coming afterwards. I also really liked the skaters' glittering gold costumes which played nicely into the song's title.
First solo number of the evening was performed by Gracie Gold, skating to Bang Bang by Ariana Grande. It's a lovely, well-choreographed number, but Gracie looked somewhat slow and out of shape on the ice, and only did one double toe loop. Her spins were nice, though.
After Gracie finished skating, Adam Rippon came out and did a little transition number with Gracie to City of Stars from movie "La La Land" - very cute.
Then Gracie left and Adam lay on the ice, preparing to start his number to Diamonds by Josef Salvat. I always like Adam's programs - this one being no exception. He conveyed the feel of the music really well, and looked in good shape too, doing two different triples and a couple of spins.
Newcomers to SOI, Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue skated to Believer by Imagine Dragons - very energetic routine with interesting hand movements and good lifts. It was my first time watching Madison and Zachary skate live and they definitely left me wanting to see more of them.
Before Jeremy Abbott took the ice to skate to Land of All by Woodkid, the big screens showed his face, with a red line drawn under his eyes. Jeremy came out in a ninja-like costume, with a hood covering his head and lower part of his face (just below the red line), which he removed in the second half of the program. This was such an unusual number, resembling a work of art or a contemporary dance routine more than a figure skating program (although to remind you this was figure skating, there was a double Axel and a back flip in it). Jeremy moved so smoothly on the ice, weaving his way through the music - it was hypnotizing.
Karen Chen really impressed me in her Rise by Katy Perry. Precise movements, great expression of the music and strong technical content for a show piece - three triples and a gorgeous Bielmann spin. I am really eager to see what the Olympic season will be like for Karen.
The chair is one of the most popular props in exhibition numbers, and Madison Chock & Evan Bates added their Tango by Gotan Project as one of the best and clever uses of the chair in a program (I particularly liked the move resembling a death spiral – on a chair!). They used the chair throughout the number, and for the full first minute Madison didn't even stand up from the chair; but it didn't feel static, on the contrary. This was a very dynamic, blazing-hot number, brilliantly delivered and expressed by both skaters.
Next up were Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner, Jeremy Abbott and Adam Rippon, skating a mid-act number to Bright Lights by Gibbz. At first they just skated in unison around the ice, but then the lights went out and the stripes on their pants lit up with colorful led lights - totally unexpected! Then the audience could only see the lights sweeping through which made for an interesting spectacle, especially during the spins. This number wasn't about skating quality and artistry, but it was a lot of fun nevertheless.
Another newcomer to SOI, Nathan Chen skated to Stole the Show by Kygo, and steal the show he did. This program (which Nathan choreographed himself) was energetic yet gentle, with high-quality technical content (including a quad!), great speed and attention to detail. I was really impressed with Nathan and hope he will continue to impress and surprise us figure skating fans in the years to come.
Olympic champions Meryl Davis & Charlie White were breathtaking in Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber. Their skating is always so powerful yet so delicate at the same time, I sometimes forget to exhale while watching them. With astonishing lifts and beautiful edges, this program was an epitome of beauty.
Ashley Wagner closed the solos of the first act with Exogenesis: Symphony Part III by Muse. I am a big fan of Muse and always extra critical of programs to their songs. But Ashley does justice to any piece of music she chooses and Muse was no exception. So much grace and feeling in this program from Ashley, and it was packed with technical content too, for a show number - two double Axels and two triples. Ashley never disappoints in her show numbers and she was definitely one of the evening's highlights for me.
After Ashley finished skating, the entire cast came out gradually, to the sounds of Send in the Clowns by Barbra Streisand. This number was a tribute to Jeff Billings, Stars on Ice designer and director for so many years, who passed away recently. This was a truly heartfelt performance from all the members of the cast, with clips about Billings showing on the big screens before and during the number. This was a great, though sad, way to end the first act.