Dazzling Start to 2023 U.S. Stars on Ice Tour in Anaheim

By: Ephney Tsai, Asia Pacific Arts

Kicking off the U.S. leg of the 2023 Stars on Ice tour, the ensemble of athletes visited Anaheim’s Honda Center on May 20th. Included in this year’s talent roster were United States Champions Alissa Czisny, Jason Brown, and Isabeau Levito, World Bronze Medalists Piper Gilles, Paul Poirier and Ilia Malinin, World Silver Medalists Loena Hendrickx and Satoko Miyahara, World Champions Alexa Knierim & Brandon Frazier, Madison Chock & Evan Bates and Kurt Browning, and Olympic Gold Medalist Nathan Chen. 

Madison Chock and skating partner Evan Bates thoroughly impressed the crowd with their two performances, each showing different sides to the dynamic duo. Their first performance was to London Grammar’s “Nightcall,” and it was very melancholic, portraying a sense of longing and yearning with slow, big movements. Switching it up, their second performance of the night was upbeat, combining quicker movements and flashier moves to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” 

Mesmerizing everyone with her lyrical choreography and jumps, Satoko Miyahara prepared two performances that were utterly captivating. The first was set to Djawadi and Florence + The Machine’s “Jenny of Oldstones,” and it showed off a lot of smooth, flowy movements, while her second performance to Brel and Maysa’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas” integrated sharper movements. Her two performances told stories and were quite the contrast from other pieces of the evening, which were primarily upbeat and fast paced.

As the most anticipated performer of the evening, Nathan Chen didn’t fall short of the high expectations. His first performance was set to Elton John and Britney Spears’ “Hold Me Closer,” and it was incredibly high energy, executing quick movements and his signature back flip with ease. His second routine, set to Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” was just as upbeat and high energy, but in a more refined and slightly more mellow manner. He engaged the audience during his performances, skating as close to those on the floor as he could and making sure to maintain a cheerful expression, and easily proved exactly why he’s an Olympic Gold Medalist.

Despite the amazing solo performances prepared by every athlete, the highlights of the evening were without a doubt the ensemble performances. Each one had a different theme, and closing out Act I of the show was a performance to The Cinematic Orchestra’s “To Build A Home,” an incredible and unique piece created to tug on the audience’s heartstrings. While the other ensemble pieces were more playful and fun, set to songs like The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done” or John Barry’s “James Bond Medley,” this specific piece was somber, emotional, and elegantly choreographed. With this tour being Kurt Browning’s final run with Stars on Ice after thirty years, the piece honored him in a beautiful way. Although each skater has a plethora of achievements and accolades to their name, it almost seemed as if they were minimizing their movements and drawing less attention to themselves to center this piece around Browning. Finishing off the performance, Browning skated to each individual skater to hug and encourage them, showing the ensemble’s close bond and love for each other.

To put it simply, the 2023 Stars on Ice tour was a wonderful show full of a wide range of genres and talents. Even with so many individual stars, the athletes still work together well and match each others’ energy and chemistry. Each skater brings something different to the table, yet they all blend well together like an orchestra comprised of different instruments.