Ice Theatre of New York
Artistic Director Douglas Webster
The Skating Club of Boston
Oct. 19, 2012
The audience filled bleachers around the ice rink, wrapped in their coats in the chilled warehouse-like building, eagerly anticipating the show’s start. The Ice Theatre of New York (ITNY) didn’t disappoint. After sneaker-clad Artistic Director Douglas Webster explained the company’s aim to “elevate dance on ice as a performance art,” ten dancers glided onto the ice to the familiar “Awake My Soul” by Mumford & Sons, mesmerizing spectators with their athleticism and grace.
The first piece, choreographed by Webster, portrayed an “Appalachian style revival.” Dressed in 1960s-style folksy jeans, minis, and headbands, the dancers performed in coordinated ensembles, skimming across the rink in seconds, before breaking off into couples. Cast member Ryan Bradley stole part of the show, landing multiple salchow jumps and a backflip.
One particularly moving, and heartrendingly beautiful, piece was Transitions: In four acts, also choreographed by Webster. It explores a male dancer’s emotional states upon receiving an HIV-positive diagnosis. Five ensemble dancers show the central skater’s (Joel Dear) transitions from anger, despair, acceptance, and ultimately to celebration by passing, turning, surrounding, and leaving him at different moments.
The show also included the premiere of Doodlin’ by the Emmy award-winning choreographer of High School Musical, Charles “Chucky” Klapow. The fun piece stars a gang of four criminals, two male and two female, reminiscing together about their glory days, set to a 60s tune by trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.
The show’s variety of styles and choreography, from the ballet-like Reveries, set to music by Tchaikovsky, to the modern Inclusions, a dance about the molecular structures of rock formation, kept the audience rapt. Costumes varied from everyday clothes in the opening piece, to elegant 1920s-style dresses and white tuxedos, to flowing ballet dresses.
Each dancer was truly stunning. The main duet in Reveries (Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre) represented the US at the World Championships in 2010. Soloist Ryan Bradley, who started skating at age 2, is the 2011 U.S. National Champion. Russian-native Natalia Zaitseva has danced as nearly all the Disney princesses in Disney on Ice over the past fourteen years. Also, an MIT alumna, Jessica Huot ’06, was in the cast. She started skating at age six and skated in international competitions while studying at MIT.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called the company’s performances “the very best New York’s creative community has to offer,” and it’s hard to argue otherwise.
The show was a one-day deal in Boston, but if you’re itching to see them perform, the company will repeat the performance this Saturday (Oct. 26) in New York, and in addition, will perform a series of shows at the Rockefeller Center throughout the spring.