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30th June
written by Mombo#9

Returning from Troy, Ohio and Nationals for the Theater on Ice competition, I have more questions than answers.

Why are there no Meijer’s stores on the East Coast? How close are you supposed to get to the Sonic order board? Why do we live in a Cats or Dogs world?

The cats or dogs comparison is a great analogy of life because it proffers the reality that you must be one or the other. I have a house cat and two dogs. The reality is if I had to choose, the selected one would bark. When it comes down to the wire, we all must make a symbolic choice: Persian or Poodle, Siamese or Samoyed, Ragdoll or Rottweiler.

In skating this pick comes down to what has commonly been broken down to: Artistic or Athletic — grace vs. jumps, beauty vs. power. Oh, we try to hedge, “I prefer a skater that has both power and grace.” But this is rarely how it is packaged. One trait overtakes the other.

Ice dance has now lost the compulsory dance that at least demonstrated that a dancer knew established patterns, rhythms, and what delineated a deep edge. The “thrown in” pattern in the short dance is going to be like eating a Tootsie Roll Pop — just as you are liking the flavor of the hard candy, little bits of the chewy stuff starts poking through; each is good separately, but when you try to eat them together it becomes a hot mess, all gooey and crunchy.

The Theater on Ice coaches have a horrific job. They must interpret rules that are really not rules. The production must have “stand alone” choreography, they must present a “show,” and it must be done on the ice. And it must be original.

The question arises then, “Is this THEATER on ice, or is it Theater on ICE?” Which is more important — the theater that makes skating the second focus, or the skating, which makes the production the second focus? Clearly, there are two schools of thought here: the cat or the dog.

Judging, I’m sorry to say, does not offer a clue to the answer. Hypothetically, winners in first place use props, fabulous costumes, and professional scenery (and the team skated a bit). Their performance, a top Disney hit, held all the characteristics, theme, and examples used in the movie. The original part would be that it was on skates. The second place winners would highlight excellent skating skills, while using an original piece of music never before seen on stage or screen. A cat and a dog — some oohh over the Disney number, while others ahhh over the original piece. In theory, judging should not go like this. There were other Disney type pieces, and there were others with no ties to Mickey Mouse. A pattern of types would have answered the questions on which way to go.

Artistry over athletic performance or athletic prowess over artistry?

Another concept that Theater On Ice offered that was a bit of a shock was the notion of a second day of competition. Not the typical short program one day, and the long the second. The second day opens to a whole new competition — it is a Tabula Rasa — as Saturday opens to the International Competition.

Theater on Ice introduces the true do-over — a concept coveted by not just other skating genres, but all sports — even ones with balls.


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