Wait a minute while I search through my bagful of adjectives until I find one that fits what transpired on the ice rink in the Salt Palace on Sunday night.
- Great! Grand! Glorious! Nope, all those G-words are overused.- Terrific! Close, but I need something with more finesse.
- Awesome! Well, it certainly was, but that sounds too teenager-ish.
- Riveting! It was that, too, but that sounds like I'm reviewing the jackhammers at a downtown construction site.
- Sheer elegance! Well, that's two words, but I think I'll go with that for starters.
Fifteen world-class Olympic and professional-caliber skaters performed nearly 30 different routines, choreographed to music ranging from romantic classics and hot jazz to pops tunes and grand opera. Every single movement, no matter how subtle or slight, was precisely timed to match the score.
I don't have the room to give each and every skater the praise they deserve, but some of the highlights of the evening were:
- Brian and Katarina, showcased in a variety of solo, duo and ensemble numbers, most notably Brian taking on the cocky Billy Bigelow persona for Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Carousel" Waltz. Katarina demonstrated grace and style in her "Springtime Ballet," and the two of them together shined in "Sun and Moon," from "Miss Saigon," and in their brilliant finale, the dramatic lovers' quarrel from Bizet's tempestuous "Carmen," recreated from their Emmy Award-winning "Carmen on Ice" television special.
- Gary Beacom drew standing ovations and loud applause for his three solo appearances. In the first act, he skated in an outfit that was only slightly less dazzling than the performance itself - bright orange slacks, hot pink shirt and red sequined suspenders. At the onset of the second act and later, during the "Tom's Diner" sequence, he was clad from head to toe in a black, hooded outfit - a sort of Phantom of the Ice Rink attire.
His adventurous, daredevil-may-care approach to skating (what he does on the ice is what hot-doggers do on the slopes) added an enjoyable bit of levity to the evening.
Not content to merely glide across the ice, Beacom hopped, skipped and spun around at dizzying speeds.
- Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini's "Unchained Melody" and "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini" routines were executed with eloquence and style.
- One of our favorites was the "Tom's Diner" segment. This was the only routine that featured any props (a doorway and a lunch counter with five chrome bar stools). The whimsical performance reminded me of the kind of wry ensemble pieces that Ririe-Woodbury or Repertory Dance Theatre might mount. It was like a modern dance work set on ice. The rink was filled with the denizens of a coffee shop on a workday morning.
The program opened with each of the skaters entering the rink to the strains of Ferde Grofe's "Sunrise" from "The Grand Canyon Suite."
Renee Roca and Gorsha Sur were featured in a jazzy version of "Avalon" by Harry Connick Jr., while Elena Valova and Oleg Vassiliev presented a jaunty routine choreographed to Rudolf Friml's "Chan-son-ette."
Another entertaining piece was Vladimir Visotsky's Cossack-style "Morning Gymnastics," featuring Valova, Vassiliev, Underhill and Martini.
What made the "Skating II" program work was not just the array of outstanding skaters, but Sandra Bezic and Michael Seibert's classy choreography and Ken Billington and Jason Kantrowitz's spectacular and innovative computerized lighting.
A portion of the proceeds from the show will go toward Salt Lake City's bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics.
- FEW THINGS are more distracting - or hazardous - for a performer than the blinding light cast by camera flash attachments. There was even a warning before the show began that the taking of flash pictures is prohibited, but there were still several patrons who obviously felt that the advice was meant for someone else. The evening's program was marred frequently by folks anxious to get a snapshot or two of their favorite performers. What's really dumb about most of this picture-taking activity is that any flash dissipates and is virtually useless from up in the rafters, where most of these people were sitting.