Stars on Ice
Kurt List

Holiday Festival on Ice - Vernon, BC - Dec. 4, 2016

written by Tina

I really enjoyed the show! The cast this year is really fantastic, and Jeff put together some really nice group numbers. I guess I don't remember the opening super well but I was really impressed by the closing. It was a fun, fast number to In the Mood (Christmas version) and the energy was super high. Lots of things going on on the ice, which is always fun, and skaters that really looked into it. It's especially fun watching Jeff and Shawn skate together b/c they're clearly good friends. Kurt had an extended breakout section in this number where he skated around and danced with every female member of the cast while bumping the male members out of the way. Katia and Ryan were paired together, as were Jeff/Yuka and Alaine/Shawn. I really really enjoyed that number.

The group number of World Champions to Hallelujah was also lovely. A little odd, because it featured six world champions but never more than four of them on the ice at the same time. The last half of the number was Katia, Kurt, Jeff, and Charlie, while Meryl and Yuka just disappeared and never came back, even for bows. But that composition aside, there was a lot of beautiful skating in that number, and I really enjoyed it as well.

As for Kurt, he had two good numbers to "Skating" (sans hockey puck) and "Singing in the Rain" (with garden hose provided rain that he had to sort of chase around at the end because he kept accidentally skating out of it (or the person holding the hose kept moving it)). "Skating" wasn't exactly the same choreographically as previous versions, and in my honest opinion, I thought he looked a little tired so it didn't have the same totally carefree feeling it can have, but he did a nice job with it, and played up the little humorous bits with the audience. "Singing in the Rain" was great. He clearly has a special connection with that program, and it shines through in his performance. The audience adores it too. He definitely received the biggest cheers stepping onto the ice, and the only standing ovation (aside from the end).

The other skaters were all wonderful too. Yuka Sato and Katia Gordeeva both truly don't seem to age, and they both have marvelous feet on the ice. I just love watching their quick neat turns and quiet edges and amazing skating skills. I have to admit to being a little tired of traditional Christmas tunes so Yuka's selection of "Jingle Bells" in the first half didn't thrill me, and I didn't really understand why she was playing with her jacket during the number (didn't quite work choreographically for me) but the skating outside of the jacket stuff was gorgeous. Her second number to Pink's "Glitter in the Air" felt heartfelt and poignant and was beautifully skated. I'm pretty sure I've seen Katia's "Who Will Save Your Soul" number before, and I like the intricate bits of footwork and choreography, but I really enjoyed her second number to "Snow in California" because it just felt so free and joyful.

Shawn is always the consummate showman, and he definitely loves it out there in front of the audience. He hilariously pouted "I don't want to get off the ice!" at the end of warmups and while he was saying it jokingly, I think he means it. Both numbers were on the dramatic side. I'm a little confused by the "Cold Song" he skated to in the second number, because the program says it's Sting, but the voice didn't really sound like Sting to me and then it turned into a fairly classical sounding instrumental song. I'm not familiar with the song, so maybe that's just what it sounds like. I don't know the first song he skated to either, "Bailar". But familiarity with the music is not required for enjoying the numbers! I hope they put him in Stars on Ice this year and I let him know that.

Ryan is another great showman and I think his skating/interpretation has improved a lot over time as well. He's always been fun and entertaining but his choreography is more involved, his arms are softer and more graceful, there's more footwork and more layered emotion, and he doesn't just rely on his charisma to carry him through, which I really admire. He also pops his backflips out of nowhere, with very little setup, particularly the one in the first half which happened fairly shortly after he accidentally tripped and fell on his face! He just picked himself up, skated a bit, and suddenly was up into a backflip. I was duly impressed! His first number was a slower one to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", and was where I really noticed the improvement in his overall skating. The second one, to "Love Runs Out" was great, but reminded me strongly choreographically of Elvis Stojko's number to the same song earlier this year. Odd.

Jeffrey Buttle is always wonderful to watch, in my opinion. There's just so much joy in his skating. I'm not actually sure that always lends itself to a consistent interpretation of dramatic/somber music, because at some point that grin seems to break out, but when he's doing something high energy or that doesn't require a serious face, he just beams. It's infectious. And his basic skating skills and musical sense are top notch. I've seen his "Black and Gold" program before but I still really enjoyed it. And his "Merry , Merry Christmas Everyone" number was nice not least because he found a less traditional Christmas song to skate to!

Alaine Chartrand was a surprise last minute substitution for Kaetlyn Osmond. I've never actually seen her skate before so watching her was a brand new experience. I was impressed by her skating and jumps, but at the same time it kind of felt like her numbers were almost too packed full and too rushed. Especially in comparison to her much more experienced cast mates, there's just a little less polish, a little less of that understanding of how to hold back a bit and hold onto moves a bit longer. So her numbers to "The Man with the Bag" and "These Boots are Made For Walking" were fun and energetic, and it was nice she did fast paced numbers instead of generic pretty ballad-type numbers. I just wish she had moments where she slowed down or held something a little longer.

Last but not least were Meryl Davis & Charlie White, who are a truly polished and professional team. Their "Sax" number was intricate and interesting, choreographically, fun and upbeat with a lot of attitude and sass. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Michael Buble's version) felt a little more traditional dance-y, with more actual face to face dancing and less side by side dancing, so it was a nice contrast. Charlie especially is really charming out there, and the two of them are really fun to watch.

Overall it was a really great show with a really strong cast. I wish they still recorded these for TV, but I'm happy they make the effort to put on a quality show anyway.