Hi all! Ok…dance heaven may be a slight exageration…how about by a nice kidney shaped pool on a lounger with a drink with an umbrella in it? In any event, where I was last night was maybe the most pleasant place imaginable: a cool rink on a warm night with some hot skating!

I had mentioned in a blog last week that I would be going to a Gala put on by and to support the ice dancers at Ice Dance Elite at the Scarboro Figure Skating Club which would include all of the skaters form bottom to top. It was a treat!

The 4 Junior teams skated their Short Dances and Free Dances and I have to say that a special mention has to go to Abby Carswell and Andrew Dolman whose Flamenco inspired free dance had the requisite amount of male/female tension and drama, not to mention speed, power and skating skills to keep me on the edge of my seat. The Viennese Waltz is the foundation for the Junior Short Dance this year and it was fun to see not only the music and costume choices but also to see just when and how the 2 sequential (obligatory) patterns would pop up. Depsite all of the teams being in the same boat with relatively new programs, they looked polished and prepared and did not disappoint. I was also intrigued by how well Canadian Novice Dance champions, Kelly Oliveira and Jordan Hockley were able to portray their version of Singing in the Rain for their free dance.

With the very young teams, there is often an imbalance in power between the boy and the girl until the boy starts to grow, get stronger and mature. One of those teams is Katie Deveaux and Dmitre Razgulajevs who are competing at a Novice level and demonstrated superior speed and edge control in their West Side Story free dance. Not only did they deliver on the technical elements, they showed confidence and strength, portrayed the Maria and Tony roles perfectly AND they used all of the good bits of the music! (Gotta love that!). Another promising young team competing at the juvenile level is 8 year old Irina Galiyanova and partner Matthew Ward who skated to an adorable sailor inspired program. I first met Irina when I visited the school to interview Crone and Poirier (her favourite skaters she tells me) and coach Jon Lane had her demonstrate her amazing flexibility for me. Poised and clearly bendy, it was a treat to see her talent put to use on the ice!

Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill are going to be the subject of an upcoming blog and suffice to say that Kharis’ sweet smile and dainty presence on the ice are the perfect counterpoint for partner Asher’s dashing masculinity highlighted wonderfully in their “Cinderella” short dance.

The piece de resistance came as the show’s final skaters, Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier took their position to skate an exhibition program. The music failed and instead of bailing, they performed what was supposed to be the first part only of their “Eleanor Rigby” free dance. This is the program that was choreographed by the legendary Christopher Dean and we were being afforded a first look, however small which was exciting. I kept waiting for the music to stop. It didn’t and they skated the whole program. What struck me were the layers of movement and the “oneness” of Vanessa and Paul even more so because the program is still very new. There is a lift that is so startling in its’ originality, it took me a second to register that what I had seen was accurate.

I am really excited about the changes in ice dance and am looking forward to seeing more dancers over the summer in preparation for a great season. There seems to be ever increasing room for artistry and athleticism in dance.

Inside the rink, my Mom and I were just another couple of (thrilled) people in the crowd who were on our feet even before the music ended.

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