Skaters played to strengths
Stars on Ice show retained dazzle, but played to smallest crowd in years
From Depression-era jazz babies to '60s go-go girls to the sexy club
kids of the new millennium, it was hard not to like how the skaters
moved in Sears Stars On Ice at Halifax Metro Centre on
||Halifax Chronicle Herald|
||April 25, 2009|
Tour newcomer Shawn Sawyer and recently crowned world silver medallist
Joannie Rochette dazzled with speed and energy, while longtime
audience favourites Kurt Browning and pairs champs Jamie Sale and
David Pelletier had the crowd on its feet with their charisma and
crowd-pleasing moves. Jeff Buttle showcased technical excellence and
Sasha Cohen lyrical perfection.
Unlike past Stars On Ice shows, which were united thematically, this
year's version, which clocked in at two hours and 15 minutes, seemed
more like the skating exhibitions that wrap up national and world
competitions, with individual skaters creating programs to suit their
In the first act, 2004 Canadian champ Cynthia Phaneuf, on the comeback
trail with her first appearance at the world championships this
season, channelled Britney Spears in a sassy program set to the pop
princess's current hit Circus.
Sawyer, a 2006 Olympian vying for a repeat trip in 2010, sparkled as
brightly as his turquoise sequins as he showcased his unique
flexibility moves, soaring backflip and techno dance prowess to Soft
Cell's Tainted Love.
Six-time Canadian champ Jennifer Robinson, who gets better every year
on the tour circuit, was seductive and elegant as she skated to
Natasha Bedingfield's Angel.
Newlyweds Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon set hearts aflutter
with a graceful program set to Corinne Bailey Rae's Since I've Been
Loving You. The two-time world silver medallist ice dancers drew
prolonged applause for their trademark lifts in both programs.
In the second act, skating to U2's Desire, Lauzon twirled Dubreuil so
close to the ice her hair picked up ice shavings and they triumphantly
performed their oft-photographed move in which Dubreuil stands on
Lauzon's thighs, arms upraised, travelling the length of the
But it was Buttle who ignited the crowd skating to Jamiroquai's Canned
Heat in a wild print shirt and bright red pants. With pulsating
pelvis, sky-high jumps and innovative spins, he got the crowd clapping
along and showed why he won the 2008 world championship. His
classically-themed closing solo wowed the knowledgeable crowd with its
high degree of difficulty.
The second act started on a high note as Browning, Buttle, Lauzon,
Pelletier and Sawyer turned into rockers clad in black leather pants
and royal blue muscle shirts showcasing pipes that were born for air
guitar. Pelletier looked to be having the time of his life as, to the
strains of Bon Jovi's We Got It Going On, he flipped Browning, then
lifted Sawyer above his head into a horizontal position, all the while
Sale and Pelletier's high-energy take on Bodyrockers' I Like the Way
(You Move) with Pelletier throwing the perfectly positioned Sale above
his shoulders, round his hips, over his head, holding her by her
skates in a mind-blowing split position as he twirled, and ending with
Sale locking her ankles around his neck as he spun round and round,
had the crowd roaring its approval.
And Rochette's impassioned performance to Suzy McNeil's hit Believe
with gorgeous split leaps, impressive triple jumps and a sizzling
scratch spin was moving and inspiring.
Browning, as ever, pushed the artistic envelope with intricate
footwork set perfectly to a number composed solely of drum
Then it was onto Cohen's Moonlight Sonata program, a work of
breathtaking beauty as the 2006 Olympic silver medallist flowed
effortlessly through a program of gorgeous spirals and spins, a
layback Ina Bauer, and her trademark split, foot held high over her
There were some interesting interludes, but they seemed to appear at
random, rather than as consistent moments and the Don't Skate homage
to the Don't Vote campaign for the recent U.S. presidential election,
while entertaining, probably left much of the Halifax audience
Missing was the intricate lighting that created fascinating patterns
on the ice in years past, while the giant electronic ads on screens in
the four corners of the rink and overhead throughout the programs were
distracting and took away from the overall appeal.
The individual skating at Stars On Ice was fabulous, but the lack of a
consistent vision for the show was missed by what might have been one
of the smallest and quietest crowds in years.