Photo: Christi Sausa
Lake Placid, NY - Stars on Ice glided into the Olympic Center's 1980 Herb Brooks Arena on December 30, continuing a long tradition of holding its first show of the season in the village before taking the production on the road for a U.S. tour starting next March.
This year's show, titled "Dancing for Joy," featured 2014 Olympic ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, 2010 Olympic men's champion Evan Lysacek, and a sparkling array of Olympic and world-caliber skaters.
The title is fitting, since not only are there three dance teams present in the cast - Davis and White, 2006 Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto and 2011 European bronze medalists Sinead Kerr and John Kerr - but Lysacek, Davis and White have also competed on the ABC show "Dancing with the Stars." Lysacek placed second in the 2010 season and Davis is the defending champion, winning the coveted Mirror Ball trophy shortly after her Olympic gold medal win with White.
Davis and White returned to Stars on Ice after skating with the production previously in post-Olympic tours in the spring of 2014 and in 2010. They were excited to be starring in the show and working with their fellow cast members.
"It's a different cast than we've performed with before, but it has so many amazingly talented skaters - from Katia Gordeeva to Evan Lysacek, and everyone in between," White said. "It's great for us. It has a great energy level, and our choreographer for the whole show, Jeff Buttle, has just put his heart and soul into these numbers."
Lysacek, who rejoined the cast after skating with them in the 2010 and 2011 tours, also has fond memories of skating with Stars on Ice and looks forward to being a part of the tour again.
"I feel good to be back with Stars on Ice; last time I was skating with them (in the 2010 tour) I was healthy. I have had injuries and subsequent surgeries since then," said Lysacek. "This will probably be, and I can't say for sure, one of my last real skating endeavors."
One of Lysacek's performances was to music from the "Black Swan" soundtrack, which was choreographed as his short program in the 2013-14 season, to be skated at the Olympics in Sochi. Unfortunately, Lysacek did not attempt to qualify for the 2014 Olympics due to injury, but his performance in Stars on Ice allows fans the chance to see the program.
He is also skating a new show program to Hozier's "Take me to Church."
"I was doing a different number until about a week ago and I just like that song," Lysacek said. "It spoke to me, and felt like the right type of attitude and what I wanted to represent."
Davis and White showed their versatility by choosing two very different pieces of music as their show programs, first skating to "Say Something" by A Great Big World and then the "Sleeping Beauty Waltz" by Tchaikovsky.
"Our first program is really fun for us to do, because we worked with Charlie's partner from Dancing with the Stars, Sharna Burgess," Davis said. "It's the first time we've done something like that for a show program, and really had the time to put in and sort of explore. So it's a really fun program to do and yet very emotional, a totally different style of dance."
"The second one is 'Sleeping Beauty,' so we've combined Tchaikovsky's classical music from the ballet with "Once Upon a Dream" from the original Disney movie, and it's just a really light, fun, classical program," added White.
As always, the first show of this year's Stars on Ice was entertaining, combining elite skating, performance, costumes and production value into a magical show that brought the beauty of dance to the ice. Skaters performed to a wide variety of music, and interstitial programs and group numbers kept the show flowing smoothly.
Stars on Ice is known for its group numbers, and perhaps one of the most captivating was the opening number to "Rhapsody in Blue."
It is these nods to the past and attention to the present that has made Stars on Ice a popular show for 29 years.
In addition to Davis, White, Lysacek, and the aforementioned dance teams, other cast members included: 2014 Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan, 2006 world champion Kimmie Meissner, 2009 national champion Ryan Bradley, 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette, and 1988 and 1994 Olympic pairs gold medalist Ekaterina Gordeeva.
Stars on Ice will resume its 10-city tour on March 14 in Providence, RI. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the tour's website at www.starsonice.com.