Jenna and Kevin’s showy side;
highlights galore

 

By Mireille Geurts
Photos © Absolute Skating

April 2009

Lights, Camera… Action!

Little girls dressed in flashing red enter the ice through a blue door with yellow stars on it. Filled with anticipation the girls skate around in circles, holding clipboards, ready for their scene. Everybody down, cast in their places? For about a minute they do their moves, but are then interrupted by a guy in black, zooming around the ice, telling them to rewind, from the top please! While the music stands by, the guy starts the show anew, pointing at the skaters, ready, set, here we goooo!

Action! The girls in red are replaced by a different set dressed in smoking black and white tops and shorts, dancing to the swinging “Brand New Day”, forming nice shapes, circles, wheels and even splitting up for lifts, ending in little groups, striking their pose.

And so Movies Extravaganza, the show by Ice Fantillusion went off with a flying start.

“This is exactly my style,” says Jenna. “It is showy, fun and really relaxed, because it meant working with people I enjoy working with. Some have become really good friends over the years, like Barbara Klerk and Ira Vannut.” That is something that shows, in these shows most clearly in the scene “Chicago”, which was planned with Barbara, but looked just as great and effortless with Ira filling in for her in the first of the row of shows.


Jazz it was on the sound system and the girls dressed in the black shorts and sparkly tops proceed with dance steps from that era, Charleston moves etc included. Forward to an Axel for all and ending with a spin this makes for a spectacular entrance by Barbara/Ira and Jenna to “All that jazz”. They know very well how to work the lyrics into their choreography, from rouge their knees, rolling the stockings down to starting the car and cold gin. Together with the main group as background dancers they put on an entertaining show.

The shows are planned for the end of the season for a purpose; Kevin and Jenna have to juggle working with the skaters as well as dealing with some surrounding organizing stuff in-between their own competitions, trainings and show appearances. How do they manage?

“Big question,” Jenna laughs. “It is not as hard as it seems, we do it in the evenings and there isn’t anything I really don’t like to do, so I enjoy it all!”

She continues, “So many people put so much into it, all the volunteers, everybody does so much, without them, in a nutshell, this just wouldn’t happen! Now with a show on this scale, you really have to be able to depend on the people you work with.”

We have commented pretty often on the eye for detail on these shows, in previous articles >2006<, >2007 May<, >2007 December< as well to themselves. “There are so many things you don’t even think of, so many little things, like the tickets. We try to do as much as possible, like the costumes and all but each year it becomes bigger and bigger and also more difficult, but it is so much fun!”
Oh yes, the tickets, the VIP tickets were a masterpiece in themselves and a real keep sake. Something that also gets more obvious each year is that they don’t just want to better the shows, but also really try to put in something new.

“Yeah, the fire, wasn’t that cool [act by Vicky Ogden]?” An enthusiastic Kevin pitches in. “And what about the acrobats, Fiona Zaldua and Dmitry Sukhanov, they were amazing! You really need to have those kind of acts, to keep bringing something different.”

Opinions about this topic are divided. Sharing a table with Joan Haanappel and Sjoukje Dijkstra, two world famous names in figure skating, we noticed the very difference between skaters and general audience.

"All nice and all, but I prefer skating" versus the real "WOW" reaction of the audience. The last thing can not be denied. Dimitri and Fiona do make a great act of it and it is not just a trick-program. So all in all, we also thought they were a real addition to the shows, but where do you find an act like this?

“We did the Italian Tour and they were on that. Fiona is actually British, from London, and ever since we met we've kept saying we need to have them in our show someday. Someday turned out to be now, despite their real busy schedule.”

Busy indeed, they would have a show the next day and needed to catch a flight, which they realized an hour before take off… and had to be hastily brought to the airport, nearly as long a ride. We heard they made it okay, though. We asked about having other guest skaters join in.

“We did have some others before, like Ice Dancers, but Belgians do not really know much about Ice Dance, so it doesn’t come across. It just doesn’t get appreciated, not like acts like Dimitri's and Fiona's. Now if you would have a couple like the Kerrs doing their Scottish Dance, that appeals to oh so many audiences! They really ‘draw you in’, but it is a really difficult time to schedule, long enough after Worlds to start working on new programs for the new season. That was also the reason they couldn’t come to our wedding last year, which was really a shame. But we would really like to have them in the shows, eventually.”

Now the wedding got brought to the table, any words on that?

“It was really very nice, everything went like planned. The only thing we couldn’t plan, the weather, we were very lucky with that. It was sunny in the morning and later a bit overcast, which is great for the pictures.” As showed, of course.

Somehow the tango suits Kevin. Especially this one (Tango de Roxanne). Maybe it's because he loves it so much, his passion drips off him while skating to it. We did see it before and have great memories of it. But now just a tad extra gets added, the love of his life appearing on the ice for a bit of the act. Passion adds to passion, magic on the ice really.

Not that they didn’t already have plenty of guest skaters in already. Aside the third time returning winner of “Dancing on Ice”, Staf Coppens and his wife Monique van de Velde, they had British skaters Elliot Hilton, David Richardson and Alex Wilde there.


This is going to be a wild ride. It already starts with a gun duel, and here we thought those Brit guys got along? As cowboys they move around the ice and honestly we wouldn’t have been surprised if there had been real horses somewhere. Poor Alex gets back flipped in the air by David, but his fate is even worse; he gets (finger) gunned down by a retaliating Alex and Elliot. >See for more pics of this on our photopage<

“It was great to have the three British guys playing around together, just like the Belgians! (Jorik Hendrickx, Jelle Butze & Ruben Blommaert) They all worked really well together and got along great.”

Having distracted the audience enough pirate Kevin Sparrow can now make his appearance, but true to his reputation immediately ends up in a sword fight with bare chested rivals Jorik and Jelle. Of course there can be no doubt who’ll win (sorry J’s) and with that victory in the bag, thunder and lightning suddenly starts. As we all know, just check out the curse of the Black Pearl, the moonlight reveals the true nature of the pirates and *gasp* Kevin Jack actually is a skeleton!!! A skeleton that manages to deliver an enthusiastic and energetic skate on top of that!

Kevin making use of his "Bones' costume, the one he had for his short program that year and ended up using this year as well. Using it for the show was really very clever and couldn't have been more suiting!

Speaking of costume changes, not all went so smoothly...

“We had completely different costumes for the Can Can at first. We had all pink and purple tights, pink and purple legwarmers and wanted plain black skirts. Not possible. Couldn’t do anything. So then we got pink tights with black fishnets, with multicoloured legwarmers. But that along with the red dresses was so mismatched I almost freaked out. So we decided on black on the legs and use the colours on the tops. It was a real query how to do it; it was my main worry on the plane back from LA (Worlds 2009),“ Jenna laughs, “but I got it my way! With the Mama Mia outfit I somehow ended up in a top from a 6-year old!! Don’t even ask me how I fit into it, I just squeezed it over my head. Oh, and the first day I was in Ira’s bra. So all in all Mama Mia was a real problem costumewise. We ended up going to carnival stores buying adult and kids stuff all mixed together.”

Somehow we do not doubt that Jenna gets her way even though the show is a real collaboration with Kevin.

“We each do sections, I did “Chicago”, “Moulin Rouge” and “Mama Mia”. Kevin did “James Bond”, “Gladiator”, “Pirates”… I can’t really see him jazzing around doing the Can Can…”

Too bad, we think that could be pretty fun.

Asking both what they would have changed in the shows if they could have, Jenna answered “nothing at all, because everything went as planned.” Kevin on the other hand of course wants more seats so he can fit in more people. But for the show itself he was pretty pleased. Can’t do better. Or in his own words how he feels now that the five shows are over?

“Don’t really feel all that much anymore. Well, happy, happy! Because it is over!” -laughs “Just kidding, because it went great.” We wonder if they won’t fall into a black hole now. “No, not really. It will be great to do nothing for a little bit. We will take a few days off and then visit Jenna’s parents and then it is just back to regular training.”

Of course this doesn’t mean they don’t have ideas for the next show yet. He first denies it, but after some prodding admits that the theme probably will be Fantasy. “In the Olympic year that will be the easiest, because it is an open theme, you can make basically all fit.” Of course he also goes on about how it has to be smaller, because of less time to prepare etc, but excuse me for not repeating that here. I've heard it before and never works out that way anyway.

The ending of the show is always double sided. Happy feelings, because all was so great. Sad feelings because it is over. The last of the five shows got a bit of an extra ending, by the little speech by judge Patrick Ibens, thanking Jenna and Kevin “for giving all this to the Belgian skating world.”


With all this is meant the opportunity given to all the young Belgian talent, to be in the show and get the experience to skate before an audience in a real show environment, way before that would normally happen. And we can’t agree more, beyond a great show which is an enjoyment for all, for the young skaters in Belgium this is really priceless. So please Kevin and Jenna, don’t stop!!

Which they won’t. In fact, upcoming weekend are the new shows, Fantasy. Check out www.icefantillusion.com for more details. We for sure are looking forward to it!

 

Do not forget to come back tomorrow, for a more extensive photo-look of this show!






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