"Kings on Ice" returns to Bucharest

May 2, 2012
By Ia Remmel (Pia)
Photo © Ia Remmel (Pia)

Two years ago, “Kings on Ice” was a great success in Romania, Bucharest. I noticed there that the Romanian crowd is amazing – they are passionate, warm and aware of many of the nuances of skating. This year’s show was announced last year in November and was quickly sold out. As a result, the show’s organizers – Evgeni Plushenko’s manager Ari Zakarian, violinist Edvin Marton and the group Amphitrion decided to put together another event for the same day, a matinee-show. This was quickly sold out as well. Cleary, the European shows “Art on Ice” and “Kings on Ice” are very popular despite reports of some other skating shows losing popularity.

The show featured a very variable cast, with several world-famous figure skaters. One of the skaters was Laura Lepistö, who has continued to be great despite her retirement. The show also included creative Japanese skater Fumie Suguri and dazzling Surya Bonaly. Featured at the show were Italian pair skaters Stefania Berton-Ondřej Hotárek along with Russian ice-dancers Ekaterina Bobrova-Dmitri Soloviev. The adagio skaters Fiona Zaldua-Dmitri Sukhanov and ice acrobats Ekaterina Chesna-Alexander Chesna offered variety. Among the men’s field were some of the greatest stars – Brian Joubert, Stéphane Lambiel and Evgeni Plushenko. Finally, Edvin Marton performed both solo and with other skaters.

The crowd at Bucharest had the honor of being the first to see Evgeni Plushenko performing after his stellar appearance at the European Championships in Sheffield. After the Euros, the Russian star was forced to take a break due to injuries, as he underwent knee surgery in February. At a press conference held some weeks before the show Plushenko said that he had started skating again quite soon after the surgery. He spoke about his desire to compete and said: “I want to change skaters’ way of thinking. They are not required to stop competing if they don’t want to.” His next ambition is to skate at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games in 2014.

The show was opened with the charming All Stars intro choreographed by Ari Zakarian, where all the performers performed their signature moves to welcome the audience.

“Kings on Ice” has the tradition of opening the show with its biggest star, a tradition rather unusual for skating shows. The show was opened by Evgeni Plushenko with his dramatic short program “Storm”. The piece was performed by Edvin Marton and was very fitting for Plushenko. The music was composed by Yanni, a talented self-taught Greek keyboard player and composer. His music evoked anxiety and drama in an awe-inspiring way. It was perfect for Plushenko, who is an extremely forceful and energetic presence on ice. Plushenko’s technique was just as strong, with several triple axels, flawless triples and some great triple combinations.

Next was European champion and Worlds medalist Laura Lepistö. It was great to see her skate again and it’s a great pity that such a quality skater can no longer be seen at competitions. For “Kings on Ice”, she had a new gala program set to “Kill Bill’s” soundtrack, with Lepistö herself as the heroine of the movie, wearing a movie-inspired bright yellow dress. She charmed the audience with her great skating quality and artistry. However, her injury didn’t allow her to do all jumps and so her program featured mainly double axels and some other doubles.

As in previous gala shows, Lepistö used some theatrical tools during the program. In her second exhibition, she carried a gymnastics-style red ribbon. With the ribbon, she drew intriguing figures around herself and on the ice.

One of the crowd favorites, Italian pair skaters Stefania Berton-Ondřej Hotárek performed at “Kings on Ice”. Their performance featured a unique style with some ice-dance elements were combined with a beautiful artistic interpretation. Their programs were created by talented ice dance choreographers Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelica Krylova. Their first exhibition was to the catchy and memorable “Dirty Dancing”, with their performance evoking the pure joy of dancing. In the program, Berton and Hotárek had great chemistry and showed some great quality skating. Their second exhibition number was “Caruso”, set to the music of Luciano Pavarotti. This Italian bel canto suited the beautiful Italians well, as their program featured a classical style and a graceful performance.

After Berton-Hotárek, it was time for the appearance of the first king of ice, as Brian Joubert took the stage. For both me and a lot of the crowd, his performance was the largest eye-opener of the night. Joubert has always been known for having strong technique and being a resilient skater. In this show, however he also appeared much attuned to emotion and the senses, giving a captivating performance. The song, “ S.O.S. D’un Terrien En Detresse” by Gregory Lemarchal suited him well, while his dramatic performance was awe-inspiring. Joubert’s second exhibition “Lord of the Dance” started with the appearance of a mysterious skater wrapped in a mantle. It was a more optimistic program but also featured an intense and powerful interpretation.

The three-time World medalist, Fumie Suguri, is determined to return to competitive skating, despite missing last season. At shows, she has always had very creative and unique programs. Several of her programs also feature a surprise turn, where the music switches to another one of the opposite tone. For example, the music of her first exhibition changed half-way from Chopin’s “Nocturne” to more dramatic music played by Edvin Marton. Second, she performed her famous program to Bach’s “Air”. True to her style, half way through the program the music changed from baroque to rock. Fumie herself cast off her baroque costume in place of a rock chic costume.

Next was Russian ice-dance couple Ekaterina Bobrova-Dmitri Soloviev with their exhibition programs set to “Bittersweet symphony” and the Neapolitan song “ Dicitencello vuie” by R. Falvo. Out of the two, Ekaterina Bobrova is extremely graceful and flexible. This lets the pair perform awe-inspiring lifts and draw beautiful patterns to the ice. Both their programs were picturesque and were greatly enjoyed by the Romanian crowd.

Surya Bonaly has been a greatly sought after show skater for some time. This time, she received some of the greatest cheers and was bombarded with flowers by the crowd. Her programs were entertaining and delightful, resembled a cabaret style, contain intriguing dance moves, spins and spirals. The audience was also greatly entertained by her signature back flip.

Adagio pair skaters Fiona Zaldua-Dmitri Sukhanov were greeted in Bucharest with energetic applause. The people greatly admired their performance and observed with bated breath as the pair carried out awe-inspiring elements. Among the elements were lifts with Fiona performing rotating splits in the air or her daredevil element of being suspended on the palm of her partner.

Ekaterina and Alexander Chesna combined intricate circus acrobatics with great quality skating. In their programs, they had elements where they were suspended in the air, while striking complicated poses. Alexander Chesna is a professional circus artist and has graduated with honors from the Kiev State College of Circus and Variety Art. Ekaterina started as a skater and later studied circus arts so as to integrate those techniques with her skating.

After that, only the biggest stars of the shows were left.

Stéphane Lambiel appeared first with the program “Magic Stradivarius”, with Edvin Marton on the violin. The original rendition hails back to the year 2003 when Lambiel and Marton first performed it at “Art on Ice”. Eight years later “Magic Stradivarius” appears even more exciting and mysterious. Lambiel’s second program was “La donna e mobile” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto”. In this brilliant program, he embodied the duke of Mantua, faithfully portraying the light-hearted nobleman. The program featured a sophisticated choreography with humorous gestures, such as comical court bowing combined with Lambiel’s graceful and flawless skating.

The show was closed by Evgeni Plushenko’s new long program “El Tango de Roxanne”. The performance was again powerful and energetic with brilliant jumps, among them two triple axels. As a token of the crowd’s appreciation, a Romanian flag was given to Plushenko.
In response to the audience’s enthusiastic cheering, Lambiel and Plushenko gave an encore and were showered with hundreds of flowers.

The festive mood culminated with a grand finale featuring all the skaters. This was met with thunderous applause, as the crowds didn’t want the show to end.

After the show Ari Zakarian gave a short interview.

Both shows were a great success and were sold out. Will we see more “Kings on Ice” shows soon?

I have to say, both the skaters and the audience get great satisfaction at the show and skaters love to perform here. I always notice that the audience don’t want to leave after the show, they stay and clap and wait for the skaters to grant them an encore. They want to stay for as long as possible and enjoy the show’s atmosphere.

However, on the subject of new shows… it’s complicated. Evgeni Plushenko is still recovering from a surgery and can’t yet train at maximum capacity. Secondly, he is preparing himself for the new season and the Olympic Games and so must reduce his participation in shows. We already agreed to do this show quite a while ago. On the 29 th of April there will be another show – “Champions on Ice” in Rimini, Italy, also with Zhenya. But after that he will start his preparation for the new season.
Of course it is fantastic to have all this great skaters – Plushenko, Lambiel and Joubert here in Bucharest. The show is called “Kings on Ice” and our desire is to show to the audience the best in men’s skating in Europe. As a result, it’s important we have Europe’s biggest names at the show – Plushenko, Lambiel and Joubert, people who have been at the top of European mens’ skating for many years. Of course, I would also like to invite Japanese, American and Canadian skaters but for now, that’s the cast we have.

It’s a great cast in my opinion; very different and with great variety, along with these skating superstars.

I think so too. They are all so positive and the crowd is in awe. After the first show there was a standing ovation for seventeen minutes and after the second, twenty minutes.

Numerous skating fans in Russia and Ukraine are also waiting for the next “Kings on Ice” show.

Of course we want to make one very much as well. However, we need someone at the location to invite us. I know that the fans are waiting and want to see our show. Unfortunately, the fans alone cannot help arrange the show. We are in touch with some local organizers but haven’t seen enough interest for the show yet.

I have heard that some fans might be ready to volunteer and help in organizing the show.

Any help is welcome. Our mission is to bring the people the highest level of figure skating and a great show. And we have great skaters. For instance, Plushenko executed eight triple Axels in today’s shows. And that, just a short time after the surgery, which again proves his greatness! And the rest of the cast as well: Stéphane Lambiel, Brian Joubert, all our skaters – it’s an honour to be an organizer of a show with such great performers.

Can you give the people any sign of whether “Kings on Ice” will continue..?

I can only tell you that a big surprise is coming. Just wait some time to see it!

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